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Help - think kitchen tap needs new washer!

(22 Posts)
wowfudge Tue 25-Nov-14 21:51:49

I noticed recently the hot tap in our kitchen needed turning off very firmly to stop it dripping. Well today it is dripping very noticeably. I think it needs a new washer; am I right? If so can anyone tell me what sort from a photo of the ancient tap?

What do I need to do and what tools do I need to do the job myself? DP - who is very handy with this kind of thing - is away. I'll be able to have a go at this tomorrow evening. We're on a water meter and have a combi boiler so it needs dealing with soon before it fails altogether.

soaccidentprone Tue 25-Nov-14 21:53:50

What type of tap is it?

wowfudge Tue 25-Nov-14 21:58:15

It's a mixer with separate taps for hot and cold - as per photo. Def the hot side which is dripping.

soaccidentprone Tue 25-Nov-14 22:06:35

Do you know how to remove the tap head?

TheFarSide Tue 25-Nov-14 22:07:33

I'm not an expert but the key issues are (a) is it easy to turn off your mains water and (b) is it one of those taps which uses old fashioned rubber washers? If so, there are plenty of "how to" videos on YouTube.

Apparently modern taps no longer have rubber washers - once they start dripping it's difficult to find the right replacement part and the only option is to replace the whole tap fitting (according to both our neighbour and our plumber).

wowfudge Tue 25-Nov-14 22:11:01

I suspect this has a rubber washer - it's ancient. Yes, I know how to take the indicator disk off and remove the part you turn to turn the water on and off if that's what you mean soaccident?

soaccidentprone Tue 25-Nov-14 22:25:43


Turn the water off at the mains.

Remove the head.

Remove the chrome cover.

Using 2 spammers or pliers with adjustable heads, unscrew the top (no idea what it's called). Hold the bottom part still, and unscrew the top anti clockwise.


The washer should be stuck on the bottom. It will probably have a crack in it.

Remove, then go to your nearest hard wear shop and buy a replacement the same size.

Re assemble, and Bob's your uncle.

Youtube is great for double checking if you get stuck.

wowfudge Tue 25-Nov-14 22:29:51

Thank you - very helpful. I found a Homeserve video on YouTube which was clear and straightforward.

Do I need to worry about draining the system before I get the spanners out? It's the hot tap, not the cold, which is dripping.

soaccidentprone Tue 25-Nov-14 22:31:28

I make it sound easy, which it can be. Unless some of the parts are stuck, or the threads have been crossed etc.

Hopefully it'll be straightforward for you.

Don't forget to run the tap when the water is off, just to check.

If your pipe work has been replaced in the last few years, they may well be a valve just under the sink. You can turn this off using a screwdriver. Saves having to turn the water off at the stopcock. And if you can't manage to replace the washer, then at least you have water in the rest of the house.

If you don't have valves for each tap, toilet etc, it's worth having them fitted. Any competent DIYer should be able to fit them. It makes sorting out any future problems so much easier.

soaccidentprone Tue 25-Nov-14 22:33:08

Yes, you will need to turn your boiler off and drain the hot water storage tank (assuming you have one).

Unless you have valves on each pipe?

soaccidentprone Tue 25-Nov-14 22:35:39

So you will need a couple of screwdrivers, 1 small for praising the disk off, and 1 larger on for unscrewing the small bolt which holds the head in place. You may need a hammer to knock the head off.

Any a couple of largish spanners or large head pliers (some people refer to them as grips. I know them as water pump pliers).

wowfudge Tue 25-Nov-14 22:42:48

Okay - but we have a combi boiler so no hot water storage tank.....

Unfortunately the pipework is the grey plastic sort with no sign of a valve to the tap, but the stopcock is easily accessible in the cellar.

wowfudge Wed 26-Nov-14 09:01:29

I cannot get the thing to budge - I've got an adjustable spanner and I've tried spraying the nut with WD40. Any tips?

I had to switch the water off overnight and will need to do the same when I go out today - it's leaking badly.

PigletJohn Wed 26-Nov-14 10:09:48

What size is the nut, and how long is the spanner?

Post another pic when you can.

Where is the water leaking from? E.g. round the top of the spindle, or out of the spout.

If you are passing a DIY shed, buy a packet of washers, and a roll (or pack of rolls) of white PTFE tape. The washers come in different sizes for sink and bath. Once you have got the hang of it you might want to mend more. If you see plumbers white silicone grease, buy a small amount (it is not widely sold). I assume you already have some green pan scourers, which you may need to clean scale off the moving parts.

If yoy only have one adjustable wrench, you will need a very small one (about three or four inches long) and a bigger one (about ten inches long). Budget ones are often sold in packs of three of four at about ten pounds a pack. For this job you do not need really good ones which cost more than £30 each.

wowfudge Wed 26-Nov-14 10:26:02

Hello PJ. Photo as requested. The nut is 7/8 inch across and I have small hands, if that helps, with the spanner. The tap base moves if I try to turn the nut - I've tried holding it in place to get better leverage but it ain't budging and I've actually hurt the small of my back in the process.

The leak is out of the spout of the tap. You can clearly hear the water within the tap so I know I have the right one.

We have tape from a repair DP did on the shower a couple of weeks ago and I plan to go the B&Q later - I have an exam to get through first though today. I was hoping to be able to fix this quickly this morning, but it's not to be so it will have to wait.

PigletJohn Wed 26-Nov-14 10:50:11


You probably need a longer spanner which will give more leverage. Another large one can be used to hold the tap steady while you heave (wrap thick sticky tape or, better, elastoplast strapping, round the tap first to improve the grip and protect the chrome from scratches). The wrench must be made a very tight fit on the nut so that it does not wobble or slip (brass nuts are a soft metal and the corners can get rounded off).

If you know someone who mends old cars he may have a socket spanner that will fit. It is not a metric size as used in modern cars.

WD40 will not get inside the tap because it is designed to be waterproof.

When you get the tap apart, scour both male and female screw threads, and wrap the male thread with PTFE tape, pressing it into the grooves with your finger. As well as reducing risk of leaks, this means it will not stick again and can easily be screwed in and unscrewed without great force. You may as well do both hot and cold sides of the tap while you have your tools out.

PigletJohn Wed 26-Nov-14 10:55:09

Looking at that tap shape, you may be able to brace on the far end of the tap, against the pull of the spanner. As the body is quite long it will give some leverage. Don't brace against the knob as it is thin and just held onto the spindle.

wowfudge Wed 26-Nov-14 11:10:47

Thank you - will try all that later. I have managed to round a couple of the corners of the nut so stopped straight away when that happened. I thought it was actually moving, but no blush.

wowfudge Wed 26-Nov-14 11:14:25

This reminds me of changing a wheel - I know how to do it but was stymied when it came to removing the over-tightened wheel nuts and had to get someone with superior strength, i.e. a man, to help. I do know that taps can be difficult for either sex to loosen though!

PigletJohn Wed 26-Nov-14 11:31:17


get one of these

It extends to double length so gives you at least twice the leverage of the one supplied with the car, and has a better grip. Try it out before you need it (the size of the nut varies)

wowfudge Wed 26-Nov-14 20:43:59

Update: bought new, bigger wrench and pack of tap washers. Found Elastoplast and thought, 'I'll just see what this new wrench is like' before I set everything up ready to brace the tap base. Anyway, the nut turned straight away, no need to brace!

The only thing was, none of the washers in the mixed pack was the right size. So back to B&Q.

Put new washer on, screwed brass parts back into tap and tightened up with lovely new wrench. Job done, no more dripping tap. Water back on, heating on: happy wowfudge smile

Thank you folks. And thank you PJ for the tip re: wheel nuts.

soaccidentprone Wed 26-Nov-14 22:34:13


It feels great when you manage to fix something yourselfsmile

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