Every so often, one of our taps will start to drip. It makes an annoying noise, it deposits limescale (in our hard water area), it wastes water and can cause greater damage to the tap by eroding the tap seating.
So, a dripping tap needs to be repaired fairly quickly.
There are 2 main types of tap. The traditional tap with a tap washer and those with a ceramic cartridge. Washered taps screw down to close, while a ceramic cartridge will usually be a quarter turn from ‘on’ to ‘off’.
Isolating the water
Whichever type of tap you have, you will need to turn off the water to it. There should be valves below the tap which are often screwdriver operated. Turn these so the slot is at 90 degrees to the pipe. If there are no valves isolating the water depends on the type of system you have. If you have a combination boiler, or an unvented or other mains pressure system turn off the main stopcock. If you have a header tank the main stopcock may well isolate the cold water and the hot should be isolated by a valve in the airing cupboard. Always check that the water is off at the tap before taking anything else apart!
Repairing a washered tap
Take off the tap head – you may need to use a thin screwdriver to remove the decorative top. Then using a spanner carefully unscrew the valve. You will see the tap washer which will generally look very worn. This will usually be a ½ inch washer on a sink or basin tap, and a ¾ inch washer on a bath tap. You may need to take the washer to a hardware shop or plumbers merchant to find a replacement. Also feel the seating where the washer sits. These are sometimes eroded and, with modern taps, it is often better to replace the whole tap than to try to repair the seating.
Repairing a ceramic disc tap
Follow the instructions for a washer tap and remove the ceramic valve. This cannot be repaired so a new valve will be required. The problem often is identifying which type of tap and therefore which valve to use. But if you know the tap manufacturer a valve can usually be obtained online. Unfortunately, not all taps are the same – and some are tricky to dismantle.
So don’t hesitate to call us for advice – or we will be happy to come and do the job for you if you wish!