How to change a tap washer – stop the dripping in minutes

Cure the dripping by learning how to change a washer on a tap, a simple DIY skill that should take minutes
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  • Learning how to change a tap washer will save you from that annoying drip, drip, drip forever more, and save you the cost of calling a plumber. All it required is a few basic tools and a bit of concentration.

    Before you start this home repair, however, there’s one important thing to check, and that whether you have a monobloc mixer tap (as seen below) or regular pillar tap.

    Does my tap have a washer?

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    Image credit: Future PLC

    Found in both kitchens and bathrooms, monobloc mixer taps have a single spout and one or two handles. The water is mixed in the tap, then released through the spout. A key thing to note is that they do not have washers.

    Instead, they have ceramic discs, which are very hard wearing. To replace a ceramic disc you would need to get a replacement cartridge from your tap manufacturer.

    Changing a tap washer – the tools you’ll need

    Don’t start the job before you’ve got the following to hand:

    • Two adjustable pipe wrenches
    • A slot head screwdriver
    • Cloths or towels to absurd any water spills
    • A pack of washers.

    Image credit: William Goddard

    How to change a tap washer

    1. Locate your stopcock and switch off the water

    To start, turn off the mains water supply by turning the main stopcock off – a valve normally located under your kitchen sink – until your tap runs dry. If you are changing the washer on hot taps, you must also turn the immersion heater and boiler off.

    2. Plug up the sink

    Put the plug into the plug-hole of the sink to prevent losing the washer or any tap components when dismantling it.

    Next, unscrew the top plate of the tap. If you can’t do this by hand, use a wrench and protect the tap with a cloth first.

    3. Take off the body cover

    Some taps have a body cover, which you will need to remove before you can unscrew the top section (or stem) of the tap to access the washer underneath. Secure the tap with another wrench while you remove this section.

    4. Release the washer and replace

    The washer is underneath this and it will either be pressed into place or held in position with a nut. Use a screwdriver to release it then clean the stem before fitting the new washer.

    5. Put the tap back together and test

    Reassemble the tap, take the plug out of the sink and turn on the water supply to test the tap.

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    I’ve replaced the washer and my tap still drips. What should I do?

    If your tap continues to drip, its valve seating might be eroded. You can repair this using a washing and seating set, which you can buy from a plumber’s merchant. Alternatively you may need to replace the tap completely, with our guide to how to change a tap.

    We hope our guide will save you not just money, but the headache that comes from a dripping tap!

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