A constantly dripping tap can be one of the most annoying things you might face.
And while it is not an issue that most people take very seriously, not fixing a leaky faucet or tap can lead to severe problems later. These can include higher water bills, mould growth and structural damage. It’s simple to change a tap washer; it’s best to buy a replacement washer and install it and not risk the damage it could cause.
Fixing such problems is not only more difficult but also much more expensive. However, the good news is that fixing a leaky faucet or tap is not very difficult in many cases. A damaged washer generally causes it and replacing it can solve the problem.
Also, changing a tap washer can be done quickly without special plumbing skills or knowledge. This means that you can get it done without paying a professional plumber for the job.
And this is just the guide that will help you accomplish that. So, let’s get started!
The Role Of A Tap Washer
Before learning about the right replacement washer process, you should know why a tap washer is crucial in preventing problems like leaking taps. A tap washer is a small disk present within the tap itself and is one of the two components of the fixture, the other being the seat or the body.
In its off position, the washer sits against the seat and makes a watertight seal, preventing the water from dripping. However, tap washers tend to wear out with time. And when that happens, a warn tap washer cannot avoid water leaks, resulting in excess water flow. That is why you need to replace them in time.
Also, remember that there are several types of taps, and each requires a different approach to fixing the washer. A modern tap generally comes with an aceramic disc cartridge instead of a rubber washer, and fixing requires a professional plumbing service.
In most cases, you can resolve the problem of a leaky tap by replacing an old washer with a new one. But, if the problem persists, the washer might not cause the leak, and you will need to hire professional services.
Changing A Tap Washer
Before replacing a tap washer on a leaking tap, you should know that the type of faucet determines the cause of the leakage. And this determines the method you can use to fix the leak.
1. Gathering The Required Tools And Preparing The Area
The first step in replacing a damaged tap washer with a new one involves collecting all the necessary tools required for the process. Thankfully, these are usually available in most households, or you can get them from the local hardware store since they are not very costly.
The essential tools you will need include a flathead screwdriver, crescent wrench, Philips screwdriver, needle-nose, adjustable plier and steel wool.
After gathering the required tools and supplies, such as high-quality rubber washers, you must prepare the area, turn off the water supply and drain the pipelines. If the new tap washer has to be installed in a sink, look for the shutoff valves underneath it. They are usually located at the lower end of the water supply lines and must be turned clockwise until they are entirely shut.
Once that is done, turn on the faucet taps to empty the water remaining in the lines. Then, put a piece of paper towel or cloth into the drain to block it, preventing faucet pieces from falling inside. You can also use a stopper to block the plug hole if the sink has one.
2. Removing The Tap Stem
If you have a compression-style (two-handed) faucet, which is the most common, use the flathead screwdriver to remove its cover. Such faucets have screws in hot and cold taps, generally covered by metal or plastic caps. Place the flathead screwdriver beneath the caps to remove them.
Some caps have a slight indentation near the rim, making removal easier. Also, removing the cap from the other is unnecessary if you only need to change a tap washer on one tap.
After removing the cap, take out the screw, which is located underneath, by turning it counterclockwise. You may need to use your flathead or the Phillips screwdriver to remove the screw. Then, you can lift the tap handle and remove it from the stem. Keep these parts aside safely so they can be found easily later during the reassembly process.
Next comes the part where you need to remove the tap stem itself. Hold it with the crescent wrench and turn the hexagonal packing nut counterclockwise to loosen it. Removing this nut will allow you to lift the stem up and out of the sink.
Hold the handle while loosening the packing nut with the other if you have a compression-style sink with hot and cold faucets attached to separate handles. You may also need to spray some lubricant like WD-40 on the nut and wait for a few minutes before trying to loosen it.
3. Replacing The Tap Washer
The tap stem you have just removed from the sink will most likely have a small screw or nut that keeps the rubber washer in place at the bottom. Remove this nut or screw using adjustable pliers or a screwdriver, and then the worn washer with needle-nose pliers.
Depending upon the faucet’s make and model, several tap washers are available that vary in thickness and size. You will need a new rubber washer of the same size and thickness as the old one for replacement.
Another approach would be to purchase different tap washers from the local hardware or home improvement store and use the one that is the best match. Ideally, it would be best to use a washer that fits perfectly.
After procuring the washer, use a needle-nose plier or your finger to slide it into place. Then secure the nut or screw back into place using the screwdriver or plier. The washer may enter a channel after sliding over the stem or fit into an indentation at the bottom. To make things easy, insert the new washer into the same position as the old one.
Before reassembling, you may need to clean the tap body and stem and remove any white limescale or other debris. To do that, rub the surface using a piece of steel wool and also use it to clean the opening where the stem fits into the faucet or sink. Use twisting motions to loosen the bits of limescale formed on it.
If debris or limescale falls inside the seat, use an old towel to wipe it away. Finally, insert the stem into the tap seat and tighten the packing nut with the crescent wrench. Once it is snug, place the handle over the stem and tighten the screw which holds it in place using a screwdriver. The last step involves pressing the cap over the screw until it fits.
4. Testing The New Washer
Turn the hot and cold water supply valves counterclockwise to turn them on, and open the faucet taps to check how the new washer is working. Let the water run for at least two to three minutes and check for signs of leakage around the base of the taps. If you find none, turn them off and wait to see whether the faucet drips.
If the faucet does not drip, your problem has been solved. But, if the dripping continues, the leak occurs for another reason.
Fixing Your Leaking Tap
A leaky tap is widespread, especially if you have standard fixtures or faucets. Hopefully, now you can fix it using just a few basic tools with this step-by-step guide.
You can also prevent it from occurring altogether by replacing such taps with those that have modern designs. Since these come with ceramic disc cartridges, they are more durable and resilient.
Still, if you have any doubts regarding the process, it is best to contact a professional plumbing service to get the job done. While this may be a bit costlier, it will ensure that the replacements are performed in the best possible manner and will prevent additional problems in the long run.
With that said, it is time to wrap up. Until next time!