We all know how annoying the drip, drip, drip of leaking taps can be. But it also hits us in the hip pocket when it comes to that water bill, plus it’s just a plain old waste of fresh water in an ever more environmentally-minded world.
Some of us are a bit nervous about doing our own DIY when it comes to fixing them – even though changing a washer should be a little like changing a flat tyre. But it’s also possible that you need to think about completely reseating a tap which requires some special plumbing tools. If you’re thinking about taking the DIY approach read on, otherwise a local plumber can fix leaking taps in a jiffy.
Changing a tap washer
Changing a washer is actually pretty easy. In all honesty, a tap isn’t really a complex piece of technology and it’s only made up of a few simple parts. In most cases, you’ll be able to fix it with just a single session after a trip to the hardware store.
1. Turn off the water. Turn off the mains, and turn on the tap you’re going to work on to make sure it’s really off!
2. Dismantle the tap. Place a cloth over the sink drain to avoid any tap parts falling down there and undo the head nut. It’s usually under a cap marking the tap hot or cold.
3. Change the tap washers. One option is to just put in a new tap washer, but there are actually other washers that you can change while you’re at it. We’re talking about the big one around the nut you just removed – the body washer. And there is also the spindle O-ring, which you’ll see once you wind up the tap completely. To put in the new tap washer, which is probably what was causing the leak, just slide it out with your fingers – you may need some small pliers.
4. Put it back together. To do a really good job, use some lubricant – some Vaseline will do – on the threads and spindle, and put Humpty back together!
5. Turn the water back on. Turn the mains back on and marvel at having fixed your leak!
What if my tap is still leaking?
If you’ve changed the tap washer and it’s still leaking, most likely the valve “seat” that the tap washer pushes down on is worn, allowing water to pass no mater how much you tighten it. The tap valve seat, mostly made of brass, becomes warn and burred over time largely due to minerals in the water such as lime. Reseating a tap is basically grinding the seat to create a smooth flat surface to seal properly with the washer.
How to reseat a tap
Re-seating a tap requires some special tools, namely a “Tap Reseater”. Once the tap is dismantled a tap reseater is placed over the tap valve seat and grinds or cuts the surface using a cutting disc and circular motion. If you’ve cut the seat as in the handy picture here, installed the new washer and you’ve still got a leaking tap, it might actually be time for a whole new stainless steel seat.
Final leaking tap tips
Here at Gold Coast Plumbing Company reseating or replacing a tap, is a very quick job with the right tools, skills and experience. In fact, we are fixing leaking taps on the gold coast all the time. While we have the tap out, we also do a full tap service, including the spindle and the ‘O’ Ring, ensuring your tap is good today and long into plenty of tomorrows.
When it comes to reseating a tap or changing a washer the best cure is of course prevention. So when you’re turning off that tap after brushing your teeth or watering the lawn next: don’t over-tighten it! Once the water has stopped completely, stop closing the tap. Over-tightening can quickly cause serious damage to your taps that you may need a plumber to fix.