If you've ever tried to sleep near a sink that just won't stop 'drip, drip, drip, dripping', you know how annoying it can be. But a leaking tap is also wasteful, expensive (use our drip calculator!), and potentially damaging. The good thing is all you need to do in most cases is to replace the tap washers.
Before we jump in some of you may be wondering, what is a tap washer? Washers are small disks that sit inside the tap to create a seal when turned off. They do wear over time which results in leaking taps. It's possible your taps are washerless, but these types of taps are far less likely to leak.
One more question before you start - Do you need a plumber? If you get to the bottom of this article and you don't think 'Bob's your uncle. Fixing a leaky tap is a piece of cake!', then you might want to call a plumber to fix your leaking tap instead.
Washers are general wear and tear product, replacing a washer should be done every 1-2 years. So, learning how to change a tap washer is a fantastic skill to have.
Ok, let's go through the steps for changing a tap washer!
1. Grab your tools
Got a toolkit in the shed with a few spanners, pliers, screwdrivers and a rag? You're ready to go!
2. Turn off the water
Whatever you do, don't start messing with those pipes until you turn the water off at the mains. Unless you want an almighty mess to deal with. You'll probably find the mains out the front with the water meter.
3. Empty the pipes
But even when the mains is off, you should still open that dripping tap up to empty the pipes that feed into it. If it stops pretty quickly, the mains were successfully turned off and you're ready to rumble.
4. Remove the tap button
Next, you're going to get the tap off so you can access that busted tap washer. The tap might have a button on the top that holds the handle on - it might be the part that identifies the 'hot' or 'cold' water. If it is round or inset, pop it off gently with a screwdriver. Otherwise, you may need a spanner.
5. Remove the handle
Now you're going to take the tap handle off, and - depending on the type of tap. It's probably as simple as sliding or screwing it off to reveal the inner workings of the tap that lies beneath.
6. Remove the tap skirt
If you see a metallic skirt or shroud on the tap, that will be coming off as well. This could be where you need the pliers because some plumbers will have secured it with a sealant.
7. Remove the tap bonnet
Now, you're going to unscrew the actual body (or headgear) of the tap, which will reveal the plastic or brass jumper valve within. You'll need a spanner or shifter for this.
8. Remove the washer
This jumper valve is taken off, and now you're all ready to remove that pesky rubber tap washer. If it's out of reach, some pliers with a handy needle nose will work just as well as a pair of tweezers. If it's a typical washer problem, you might see a split.
9. Replace the washer
Now you've got that washer in your hot little hands, it's time for a trip to the hardware store for a new tap washer. If the jumper valve looks undamaged, you could get away with only replacing the broken washer. But make sure you take both parts to the shop with you so you get the right ones.
10. Put it back together
With the new washer and jumper valve in place, it's time to put everything back together again! Screw the tap bonnet on and tighten with that spanner and then proceed to put the rest of the tap back together in the reverse order to how you took it apart.
11. Get that water flowing
When back together, close the tap completely before turning the mains water back on. When the mains is back on, test the tap a few times and check that the leak is completely fixed. Turn the tap on for a couple of minutes to clear out any unwanted debris.
12. Celebrate wildly
If everything has gone to plan you've changed the tap washers and stopped the tap leaking. Well done, you're a pretty handy DIY plumber after all!
But if it hasn't all gone smoothly, don't beat yourself up - help is on the way. Fixed Today are absolute experts in the field of tap repairs and replacements. We can also help with leaky showers or taps that are noisy or hard to turn on or off.