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Changing a Tap Washer

Skill Level: Beginner



A dripping tap is something that many people leave until another day but if left unattended, will only get worse - eventually causing much bigger problems requiring the services of a professional plumber. It doesn’t take long before the enamel in a basin takes on an unsightly – difficult to remove stain, which is much worse in hard water areas.  In winter there is the chance of outlet pipes freezing if the constant dribble of water is allowed to continue. Also, a statistic to keep in mind is that a tap dripping once a second will lose 12 litres of water over the course of a day!
The steps detailed below relate to a shroud-head tap which is very popular today, but if you have the conventional tap with a spindle you should still be able to change the washer.


Removing the handle

Turn off the stopcock and drain the water from the tap. Unscrew the top plate to reveal the retaining screw for the handle. Unscrew then pull off the handle.

Unscrew the tap body cover

The tap body cover should be unscrewed by hand if possible. Where this is not possible enlist the help of an adjustable spanner or pipe grips. Never close the spanner or grips directly onto the chrome - wrap a cloth around the base of the tap.

The headgear

Now that the tap body cover is off you will be able to see the headgear assembly held on by a nut. Unscrew the nut using the adjustable spanner but be very careful that the tap does not twist as this could damage the inlet pipe. Unless the nut releases very easily, apply some penetrating oil and wait for ten minutes. Keeping the tap base steady, by gripping with a pipe wrench after having protected it with some cardboard or similar, you should be able to release the nut.

The damaged washer

After the nut has been unscrewed remove the headgear assembly which ends in the “jumper”. The washer butts up against the jumper and it could be held in place by a screw or be a push fit. The former should be unscrewed with an adjustable spanner and the latter prised out using an old screwdriver if necessary.

The new washer

Insert the new washer (screw or push) and by reversing the sequence, reassemble the tap. Before reassembling, smear some silicone grease on to the threads at the base of the headgear. This will make it a little easier the next time the washer needs to be renewed

New headgear assembly

If the headgear assembly is too badly damaged or corroded then the best option is to simply buy a complete assembly kit.

Tools you will need:
Rolson 300mm Adjustable Wrench
Rolson 300mm Adjustable Wrench
- Rolson 350mm Stillson Type Pipe Wrench
Rolson 350mm Stillson Type Pipe Wrench

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