Ever faced that persistent ‘drip-drip’ sound late at night from a stubborn tap? Most of us have. And a common culprit? That’d be a worn-out tap washer. 

Changing your tap washer yourself can help you save water and money. But, the task might seem daunting at first. 

Not to worry: in this article, we’ll give you an easy step-by-step guide to getting the job done and some tips to make the process as smooth and easy as possible. So, let’s roll up those sleeves and get that pesky drip to stop once and for all! 

Recognising the Signs: When to Change Your Tap Washer

Spotting the signs that suggest a need for a change in your tap washer could save you from potential water damage and unnecessary expenses. The prime indicator is a dripping faucet, an inconvenience usually caused by a worn-out tap washer. This persistently annoying drip can progressively intensify into a steady stream, significantly increasing your water bill. 

Besides the apparent issue of a leaky faucet, you may encounter problems shutting off the tap entirely. You may also notice the tap valve doesn’t turn as smoothly as it used to or makes squeaking sounds. These all indicate a worn or damaged tap washer that requires urgent replacement. Addressing these signs as quickly as possible can prevent further complications and the need for more extensive repairs.

If you have a ceramic disc tap, you might encounter slightly different symptoms. Rather than a traditional rubber washer, ceramic disc taps rely on precise engineering for their functionality. However, even these modern marvels can develop issues over time. 

Look out for persistent leaks, particularly with the cold water side, as ceramic discs are more prone to wear and tear. If you notice difficulty achieving a completely watertight seal or a leaking tap, it could indicate problems with the tap valves.

Your Essential Checklist: Tools You Need to Replace Tap Washers

A wrench, screwdriver, and a replacement washer are the tools and materials needed to change a tap washer.

Replacing a tap washer is an effective way to prevent leaks and save water. However, to do it correctly, you will need the right tools. Here’s a handy checklist: 

  • Flat-head screwdriver: This is great for all kinds of jobs but is especially useful in removing the cap of the faucet or the retaining screw.
  • Spanner: An adjustable wrench or spanner is handy when removing the packing nut.
  • WD-40: A little squirt of this will help lubricate and ease off any stubborn, rusty components.
  • An old cloth: This is handy for holding the faucet to protect its finish while applying pressure to remove parts.
  • A new tap washer: The star of the show and your solution to a dripping tap. Make sure it’s the right size by comparing it with the old one.

Alternatively, you can use a tap valve repair kit, which typically includes replacement washers, O-rings, valve seats, fittings and sometimes specialised tools required to disassemble and reassemble faucet components. It ensures you have everything you need for a thorough repair.

Depending on your tap handle type, you may also need an Allen key or a vandal-proof spanner. 

Armed with these tools, you’re ready for your tap washer replacement task. Remember, it’s a simple DIY job that doesn’t need to involve drilling or messing with pipes, and it can save you both money and time.

Precautions Before You Start

Before changing your tap washer, it’s very important to make sure you’re safe. Certain precautions are essential when handling water and tools. These safety tips will help minimise the risk of accidents or damage to your plumbing system. 

First, please make sure the water supply is turned off. This is crucial as a safety measure and to prevent water from gushing out when you remove the tap handle. Usually, you’ll find the water shut-off valve under the sink or behind the toilet. Rotate it clockwise until it’s completely closed. 

Secondly, clear the work area. Remove any objects around the tap that could get in the way or lead to slips or spills, such as dish soap, scrub brushes, or towels. It’s about creating a clean and hazard-proof workspace for yourself. 

Finally, have a drain stopper or cloth ready. This is to prevent screws and small parts from unknowingly disappearing down the drain, which could lead to additional work or even a visit from a plumber. 

Remember, patience is a virtue in DIY tasks, especially plumbing. So always take your time, follow instructions and emphasise safety.

Step-by-Step Guide: Easy Tap Washer Replacement

It is essential to understand the process of replacing faucet washers as it is a common household task that can assist in maintaining the plumbing system effectively. By following these simple steps, you will be able to accomplish this task proficiently: 

  1. Turn Off the Water Supply: Start with this step to prevent water-related accidents. It’s generally located under your kitchen sink, but you might need to turn off your house’s main water supply if it’s not there. Wait for the remaining water to drain out of the tap before proceeding.
  2. Install a Drain Stopper: Insert a drain stopper into the sink drain. This crucial step ensures that you do not lose any tiny parts in the process. Alternatively, a cloth or a small container can serve the same purpose if a drain stopper is unavailable.
  3. Remove the Tap Cover: The tap should have a small cover that can often be screwed off with a flat-head screwdriver. However, some taps may require a spanner. Be cautious during this step to not scratch or mark your tap.
  4. Take Apart the Faucet: Underneath the cover, you will locate a screw or a nut that secures the tap handle. Use your properly-sized screwdriver or a spanner to unscrew it carefully. Once this is done, the handle should come off with ease. Store these parts together in a safe place.
  5. Replace the Washer: The washer is under the faucet. Remove the old washer using a spanner, or spray some WD-40 to loosen it if it’s stuck. Replace it with a new one of the same size. Remember to ensure that it fits in properly and is secure.
  6. Reassemble the Tap: Once the new washer is securely in place, reassemble the tap by reversing the disassembly process. Be careful not to overtighten the screws.
  7. Turn the Water On: Finally, switch on the water supply and check if the faucet is functioning correctly without leakage.

Troubleshooting Tips: Common Issues and How to Solve Them

You may encounter certain roadblocks in your journey of changing the tap washer. Some common issues often arise, along with their respective solutions.

  • Faucet Handle Won’t Budge: If you can’t remove the handle, it’s likely due to sediment and mineral build-up. Solvent options such as WD-40 can often loosen the handle. However, avoid forcing it, as it may cause further damage.
  • Inconsistent Water Flow: If you’re still witnessing a rather inconsistent water flow after replacing the washer, it could be due to problems with your faucet aerator. Check it for any blockages or consider replacing it altogether.
  • Leaky Faucet: A lingering leak can indicate that the valve seat is worn out or corroded despite a new washer. In this case, the seat should either be cleaned or replaced.
  • Noisy Faucet: If the faucet emits strange noises upon being turned on, this could potentially indicate an issue with the washer size. Ensure the washer fits snugly and is of the appropriate size for your specific tap model.
  • Continuous Dripping: If your tap continues to drip once turned off, it could be an issue with the tap washer you have replaced. Check that you’ve used the correct type and size. If the dripping persists, it might be an issue with the valve seat, which may require the services of a professional plumber.

Expert Advice: When to Call a Plumber for Your Tap Washer Issue

No matter how committed you are to maintaining your home, there may come a time when you’ll need to call in an expert. Here are a few circumstances where it’s probably best to call a professional plumber for your tap washer issue: 

  • Repeated Leaking: If your tap leaks even after you’ve replaced the washer, there could be more serious issues at hand. These might include a damaged valve seat, which would require the expertise of a plumber.
  • Incorrect Size: Obtaining the perfect size washer for your tap can take time and effort. If you’ve replaced the washer and find the size must be corrected, causing continued drip, you should seek professional help.
  • No Improvement: If you need to notice any improvement after changing the tap washer, it is advisable to contact a plumber. This could signify a more complex issue within the plumbing system.
  • Non-standard Taps: While most taps follow a similar construction, some uncommon or high-end designs might require a plumber’s expertise to ensure the correct method of washer replacement is used.

In summary, when you’re in doubt about your ability to handle the problem efficiently or feel the effort might compromise the integrity of your plumbing system, it’s better to seek the help of a professional plumber.

Key takeaways

  • Identifying the right time to change your tap washer is crucial to maintaining efficient plumbing in your home. Be aware of the tell-tale signs that a replacement is due.
  • Ensure you have the necessary tools on hand before replacing your tap washer. Depending on your tap handle type, this can include screwdrivers, pliers, an adjustable wrench, or other tools.
  • Always remember to take precautionary steps before starting the replacement process. These can include turning off your water supply and inserting a drain stopper to prevent any mishaps.
  • Changing your tap washer is a manageable task that can be achieved with a methodical, step-by-step approach. This can save you both time and money.
  • If you encounter any issues during your tap washer replacement, be ready with strategies to troubleshoot common problems. Don’t hesitate to call in a professional (ike our team) if the issue persists.
  • Lastly, consider investing in faucets with ceramic disc cartridges. These are highly resilient and durable, drastically reducing the probability of leaks – hence, frequent washer replacements are needed.