Replacing a tap washer

One of the most common plumbing jobs around the home is replacing a worn tap washer to stop a dripping tap, here we show you how to make this a simple job.

basic tap
Pillar tap diagram

  1. First turn off the water supply to the dripping tap, and turn on the tap to release any water in the system feeding it.

  2. Before you start to dismantle the tap, place the plug in the outlet of the basin or sink - this will prevent any small items you drop from going down the waste.

  3. basin tap shroud head tap
    remove insert
    exposed screw

    Remove the top of the tap.

    Most modern taps have 'shroud' knobs with a red or blue marking to indicate if the tap is hot or cold water. These markings are often on a small insert in the centre of the top of the knob, these inserts usually hide the screw which holds the knob on the spindle.
    Use a small screwdriver to lever off the insert to expose the screw holding the knob.

  4. shroud head removedRemove the screw and the handle should lift off.

  5. undoing the tap valveThe next step is to release the tap valve, use a correct sized spanner above the joint and firmly hold the tap spout to prevent the body of the tap turning on the basin or sink - if the tap does move, the connection under the basin/sink may be loosened causing a leak.

  6. tap valve removedUndo the valve completely and remove. Not all taps have detachable valve jumpers.

  7. nut washer
    nut retained washer
    lug washer
    central lug
    Some valves have a small retaining nut for the washer, as right. Others have the washer simply pushed onto a central lug. Either undo the nut to release the old washer or prise the old washer over the lug. Each uses the same style of replacement washer.

  8. Replace the washer and, if appropriate, replace the nut.

  9. damaged tap seatBefore replacing the tap valve check to make sure that the tap seat is not undamaged, if it is damaged, repair it before replacing the valve. A new washer will not cure a dripping tap if the seat is damaged. The seat shown right has a sign of damage as indicated and needs regrinding. See this page for details.

  10. Assembly of the repaired tap valve and knob is the reverse of dismantling.