Have you got a leaking water cooler? There could be something wrong with your spigot. Fix it in 5 simple steps.

Water coolers are natural problem solvers. Whether you use them in the office or at home, there’s no denying that they provide a steady supply of water in the best possible way. Can you imagine having to carry your 5-gallon water jug every time you wanted to hydrate yourself? No, thank you.

From the outside, they might seem lacking in complexity, but you’d be surprised at how many little components go into making them work. From the spigot to the reservoir, to the catch tray.

Every single part is interdependent and necessary for optimal functioning, which is why, when a single one of them fails, you can end up having to clean a pool’s worth of water.

If you want this to stop, and you’re serious about trying to do your own repairs, you’ll need a detailed list of the possible causes behind this occurrence and the steps you can take to address them.

Luckily, I’ve taken the liberty of handling that tedious research for you.

Below you’ll find the aforementioned compendium so that you can forget about your problems, and go back to focusing on staying hydrated.

Ready? Let’s fix that leak!

Fixing a Leaky Water Cooler

To guarantee a successful and efficient troubleshooting process, we must go from external to internal factors. From general, to specific. This will not only save you precious time and money, but also make identifying the problem, much easier.

Your water cooler could be leaking due to:

  • A full catch tray
  • A cracked jug
  • A broken or loose spigot
  • A worn out gasket
  • A clogged reservoir

#1 A Full Catch Tray

water dispenser with plastic cup on catch tray
Keep the catch tray empty at all times

When your water cooler is operating normally, your catch tray is the part responsible for minimizing the spillage on your floor. Without it, every single droplet that falls from your cup, would eventually accumulate and become a massive puddle.

Some water cooler models are designed to absorb this leftover water, and dispose of it in a hygienic way; however, if yours does not have this feature, or the draining system is clogged, the catch tray could become full and spill as time goes by.

Solution: Keep your catch tray as clear from water as possible at all times. While letting it fill to the brim won’t necessarily damage the part, it will definitely leave you with a mess to clean up later.

#2 A Cracked Jug

More often than not, when our household appliances fail, we tend to look first at the technical issues that could be behind the issue. This is a big mistake.

Every year, thousands of people spend copious amounts of money trying to fix their water coolers, only to find out too late that the leak came from a cracked jug.

While these hard plastic containers are built to last and withstand damage, they’re not indestructible. If your supplier has suboptimal transportation conditions, your jug could have small hairline cracks that will allow for water to seep through.

It’s always a good idea to double-check your jug before taking it home in order to avoid buying a damaged unit.

Solution: A damaged jug will sound quite similar to a flat tire. As water seeps out and air goes into the container, you’ll hear a soft hissing sound along with some bubbles. This can be very easy to miss, but if you look carefully, you should be able to spot it.

#3 A Broken or Loose Spigot

Spout and spigot with seals
A loose spigot is responsible for the water leak

They might not seem like much, but the spigots in your water cooler are about 90% responsible for making sure that the liquid stays inside the appliance, and not all over your floor.

These nifty little outlets are responsible for stopping the water flow, and reopening it at your command. As you can imagine, when they fail, break, or come loose, the water control is compromised.

Luckily, fixing them is very simple, and it shouldn’t take more than 20 minutes.

Solution: To replace a broken spigot, please follow these steps:

  1. If your water cooler has a hot water supply, carefully turn the appliance off with the switch, unplug it, and let it cool down
  2. Remove the jug
  3. Grab a bucket and drain the remaining water in the reservoir
  4. Remove the lever at the top of the spigot and replace it with a new one
  5. Slightly refill the reservoir, and flush both spigots lightly
  6. Place the jug back in the water cooler
  7. Plug your appliance back into the wall outlet, and turn it on with the switch
  8. Flush some water through the hot water spigot to prime the tank
  9. Wait 10 minutes
  10. All done!

These may seem like a lot of steps, but in reality, it should be a pretty straightforward process. If you’re a visual person like me, there are tons of online videos you can check out and follow along step by step.

#4 A Worn Out Gasket

Gaskets are always unappreciated until they fail. These are present in almost every single kitchen appliance out there, and in case you’re not familiar with them, you can think of them as the component responsible for creating airtight seals between your water cooler, and the outside world.

In pots and pans, gaskets are normally placed on the lid. In blenders and food processors, you’ll probably find them between the jar and the motor. And in water coolers, you’re sure to spot them between the spigot lever, and the outer dispenser.

This little rubber ring is solely responsible for cutting off all water supply as soon as you pull down the lever on your spigot. When it fails or wears out, its ability to contain water is compromised, thus resulting in a leak.

Solution: Luckily, replacing a worn-out spigot gasket is not very difficult or expensive.

More often than not, all it takes is a quick Google search on your make and model and some browsing at online marketplaces to find the right replacements for both your spigot levers and your gasket.

Once you find the right fit, you can follow the steps from the previous point to replace whatever’s necessary,

#5 A Clogged Reservoir

Water cooler next to a door
The free flow of water can be compromised if the reservoir is clogged

In theory, you should clean your water reservoir at least once a week. This not only guarantees hygienic operating conditions for your appliance but also prevents clogging.

If you’ve got a leaking water cooler, and none of the solutions on the list above have worked out for you, chances are there’s something obstructing the free flow of water from your reservoir, to your spigots.

Normally, as you dispense water through the latter, the jug at the top of your water cooler releases more water as the reservoir empties. This maintains a balance between a constant water supply and a safe filling level in the reservoir. When the jug adds more water, but the reservoir stays full, leaks will occur.

Solution: As I said before, the best way to prevent this from happening is to clean your reservoir regularly. If the situation is already far beyond preventive measures, there are certain steps you can follow to unclog it.

When Should You Call a Professional?

Depending on the severity of the issue that you’re experiencing, you might want to consider calling a technician in for help. While fixing a leaky water cooler is fairly simple, in some cases, the problem could be coming from an internal component or a manufacturing defect.

If you suspect that to be the case, the worst thing you can do is try and do your own repairs, as this could void your warranty and leave you stranded without a service that you could have gotten for free.

Remember to always check your documents and your manufacturer’s terms and conditions in order to make sure that you’re taking the best steps to resolve your problem.


Having a leaky water cooler can be very frustrating, and extremely time-consuming. If you’ve never had to mop up an entire jug’s worth of liquid, trust me, you don’t want to.

As you’ve learned on the list above, this could be happening for a number of reasons, ranging from worn-out components to improper cleaning habits, and broken jugs.

While these repairs are, for the most part, simple. You should never try to do them if you have even the tiniest speck of doubt in the process. Keep your safety a priority at all times.

Thank you for sticking with me all the way to the end. If this article proved valuable to you, why not keep expanding your knowledge with our other incredible resources below?

Stay hydrated!