How to Replace a Tap Washer


Leaking taps may appear to be more of a nuisance than a full-scale emergency but leaks can waste a lot of water and should be cured as soon as possible.

Before trouble strikes

Know the sort of taps you have – Supataps need different washers to those used on ordinary laps; rising and non-rising spindle taps use the same washers, but other parts are dif­ferent; more complicated bidet and mixer taps sets may use special washers. Gel together a set of spare parts: l/2 in and 3/4 in synthetic rubber washers; spare jumpers for rising spindle laps; Supatap washers; joint washers; gland ‘O’-rings for non-rising spindle tap, rising spindle taps; and washers for mixer tap sets. Know how to isolate and dis­mantle each tap.

Tap Washer

In an emergency

Isolate the lap from the rest of the water supply. Turn it on until the water flow stops.

Replacing a tap washer

If the tap leaks or continues to run when it is turned off, the washer probably needs replacing. First isolate the lap if you can.

Then on the older cross-head taps with covers, turn the tap on fully and unscrew the cover. If you have to use a spanner, protect the cover by wrapping a cloth around it and prevent the rest from turning by holding it with another spanner otherwise you might crack the basin. If the cover will not undo, try penetrating oil, or pour boiling water over it.

Under the cover is a large nut – undo this with a thin open-ended spanner. If the spanner is too thick to fit the gap, the cross-head will have to be taken off so that the cover can be removed completely – it is held on with a grub screw. If it will not lift off, try heat or penetrating oil, or place a wooden wedge between it and the cover and screw the head down on to it.

On shrouded-head taps, take off the head which exposes the nut directly. The head may pull off, or be fixed with a screw in its side, or underneath a small cover at the top.

Undo the nut, and so remove the whole mechanism again, use a second spanner to brace the tap. The washer is at the base of this, and may simply pull off or be held on by a nut.

If the nut on a rising spindle tap does not undo, the whole jumper can be replaced. On a non-rising spindle tap, part or all of the works may have to be replaced.

Replace Tap Washer

Leave the tap fully open when re­assembling. Greasing joints and threads with petroleum jelly will help when the tap needs dismantling again.

Curing a mixer tap leak

If mixer taps leak at the base of the swivel nozzle, the washers here need replacing. There is no need to turn off the water. Remove the nozzle – it may pull off or be held with a grub screw. Replace all the washers found – their position varies with different brands of tap – lubricating them with a little petroleum jelly. Replace any circlip.

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About the Author: Jason Prickett loves to write about home maintenance and stuff you can do yourself instead of hiring any professional. His step by step guides will assist you in completing your home maintenance tasks.

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