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What has happened to my taps?

(11 Posts)
MyNameIsInigoMontoya Fri 27-Nov-15 20:44:41

Anyone good with taps and can help with this please?

I got home from work the other day to find all four of our bathroom taps (2x sink, 2x bath) had gone all rubbish. When you turn them now they just sort of spin loosely and either no water comes out, or only a dribble. They also seem to stick and then get worse if turned off tightly. Sometimes turning them fully "on" and then back a bit makes a bit more come out, and pulling (and holding) the top part upwards seems to be the only thing that really improves the flow, but as soon as you let go it goes back to a dribble or stops again.

The only cause I can think of is we had a cleaner in and I know she likes to use a LOT of Cif, but she swears she didn't do anything unusual to the taps and they've never been like this before when she's been in - but it does seem more than a coincidence that all four should go dodgy at the same time (one is better than the others, but they were all OK before and then suddenly all had problems).

We've tried taking the top bit apart and used lots of WD40 to try and loosen them up, which has improved them slightly but not fixed them; but the bath taps in particular are impossible to get at underneath without ripping off the tiling, so I'm hoping we can find a fix that doesn't involve that.... any ideas gratefully received!

BMW6 Fri 27-Nov-15 23:16:48

Sorry, I am no tap expert, but there is surely no possible way a bit of Cif can cause all 4 taps to fail like this.

From your description it sounds like the fitting underneath the taps have been compromised - hence the tap above being loose, and pulling the tap upwards helps a bit.

Something must have been done to these taps for them all to fail in this way.

1. Get a plumber in
2. Get rid of cleaning lady............hmm

(I wonder if she has taken the tap sleeves apart for extra zealous cleaning, and has not put it all back together again properly)

MyNameIsInigoMontoya Fri 27-Nov-15 23:25:44

Well that's what I thought about the Cif, it is very odd. I can't really see her taking them apart though, it would have needed a screwdriver for one thing... don't want to get rid of her either as she is a star apart from being a bit heavy-handed with the cleaning products!

I wasn't very clear perhaps about the pulling upwards, if this makes a difference, it's not the whole tap you have to pull up, but the bit with the turny handle on (they are the traditional-style taps with the cross-shaped top), so it's pulling on that so the sort of "pillar" that is on is pulled up out of the tap a bit.

We'll get a plumber in if we can't fix it, but usually can fix quite a few things between the two of us (I have sorted out the washing machine several times when DH was already googling new ones!) so am hoping there's something more we can try first, especially as it would be a big pain if we or the plumber have to get in under the bath! But DH has had a few goes with not much joy so far...

PigletJohn Fri 27-Nov-15 23:45:13

I think she has turned them off with great force.

Look up "how to change a tap washer," buy a pack of bath and basin washers (if yours turn out to need cartridges it will not be much money wasted) and some PTFE tape, and some silicone grease if you can get it, and a set of adjustable spanners (cheap Tesco ones will do) and some Elastoplast strapping.

You can do all this from above, no need to get under the bath or remove the tap body. You just undo the big nut and take the headworks off.

PUT THE PLUG IN and put an old towel in the basin so you don't crack it when you drop the spanner, and the tiny screw doesn't fall down the plughole. Use the Elastoplast on the tap body so you don't scratch it with your spanner. Take one of the taps apart, observe anything loose or worn, polish up the moving parts with green nylon pan-scourer, fit a new washer, put tape on the screw threads before reassembly, lube it, put it back together. You will see all the working parts and can tighten the gland nut. If it has tiny "rubber "O" rings you can buy a box of a thousand assorted from Screwfix for a few pounds. I bet that will have fixed it. If so, do all the others.

Taps don't need to be turned off with great force. If you do, it crushes the washer and they drip. Mine are at least 20 years old and can be turned on and off with one finger.

People, some of them very old, who were brought up in houses with worn-out taps and crushed washers think you have to use great force.

MyNameIsInigoMontoya Sat 28-Nov-15 12:53:19

Fab, thank you PigletJohn I will give that a try! We have probably got everything already except maybe the washers. I did wonder whether the washers might have got damaged somehow. Bet the kids would like to watch as well, they ar often quite interested in DIY jobs, especially ones involving grease and spanners...

PigletJohn Sun 29-Nov-15 23:38:57

if you get fed up with tinkering, you can also fit Tap Revivers. They comprise all the moving parts of the tap, you just have to remove the capstan, easy-clean shroud and the big nut from your old one (after turning off the water) and the old headworks will lift out, then you wind some PTFE tape round the male threads on the new one and screw it in. There is not much choice of handle, though. It is nowhere near as cheap as a new washer, though, which is a useful skill to learn. Be sure to get matching bath and basin ones if you go that route. You can also get new cartridges, but there is a risk that the new spindle splines might not fit the old capstans or knobs.

MyNameIsInigoMontoya Sat 05-Dec-15 16:09:38

Right well we finally got a chance to tinker with the taps today, I got the top off one and replaced the washer - which did indeed look rather crushed and was all squashed into the metal ring bit. But afterwards even with a good clean and lubricating it was still not quite right and still couldn't get full flow without pulling the handle part (capstan?) upwards. Also there was a tiny metal ring (well, partial ring, like 2/3 of a circle) that came out from somewhere but didn't seem to have anywhere obvious to go back in, like it was broken perhaps.

It seemed like the mechanism to pull it open when you turn the tap was not working properly, as well as the washer being squished. But didn't seem like it could easily be fixed, so in the end we got some tap revivers as you suggested and that fixed the first couple nicely, so we just need to get a couple more and finish the job later. They don't look quite as good as the old taps, but nearly as good and more importantly, they work!

So thanks for the advice flowers - DD had lots of fun too "helping" me fix it with her plastic screwdrivers and spanner and passing me washers and things!

PigletJohn Sat 05-Dec-15 16:16:40

horseshoe circlip fits on the spindle. You will see a groove for it. It prevents the spindle going down too far. You will need pliers to push it on.

I will look for a pic.

PigletJohn Sat 05-Dec-15 16:22:45


PigletJohn Sat 05-Dec-15 16:35:28

you can just see the clip (open end towards you) in part 5.

MyNameIsInigoMontoya Sun 06-Dec-15 21:36:30

Oh yes, ours looked a bit different (more round-shaped) but same function I expect. I think that may have been the problem actually - that these had come off/got corroded and weren't working any more. But we now have the new top parts on all the taps and I managed to have a lovely bath that didn't take all evening to fill grin so I'm happy!

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