DIY: How to fix your leaking tap
WE HAVE had a leaking ensuite tap since before Christmas. It's now at the stage where some drastic action needs to happen. For some reason, when it comes to plumbing issues, men hate fixing them or calling a plumber. But replacing a washer or ceramic spindle is an easy job.
Our particular leaking tap is one of those quarter turn taps, which doesn't take a washer but a whole assembly spindle. The hardest thing about fixing this will be trying to find the right one at the hardware shop. I did cheat by buying one quarter turn and one half turn. I couldn't remember which one it was at the time. You can always take one back.
Tools you'll need:
- Basin ceramic disc spindle quarter turn, anticlockwise (for cold)
Basin ceramic disc spindle quarter turn, clockwise (for hot).
Step 1: Turn off water main
In a house you'll usually find your water main at the front boundary, either on the right or left adjoining boundaries. If you're in a duplex or unit you may share one with your neighbours, so you should have an isolation tap in the garage or near the hot water tank. Simply pop the lid and turn the tap off. You can check if it's off by turning on the nearest tap.
Step 2: Empty the line
I usually find the lowest point, like a bath or outside tap, and turn on both hot and cold until the pressure has gone down to a drip.
Step 3: Remove the leaking tap
With your shifter, undo the top nut; usually it also is the hot and cold button. Next take off the handle. It should come straight off but may need a gentle tap with a hammer handle.
Next, unscrew the main body. It should be loose enough to do it with your hands. With your shifter unscrew the large brass-locking nut, followed by the small nut on the spindle itself.
By the look of the bottom of the old spindle (see above), we have found our problem. The rubber washer at the bottom has worn away causing leakage.
Step 4: Attach the new spindle
Now is a good idea to give the whole area a clean with a rag. Also clean inside the tap body and the surface the new spindle will sit in.
Start with the new red fibre washer by placing it on the rim of the tap base. Make sure the new spindle is in the off position and screw it into the tap base and tighten with a shifter. Tighten firmly, but do not over tighten. Now screw on the brass-locking nut and tighten firmly with a shifter.
You can now screw on the main body with your hands to a firm tightness. Put on the handle and tighten the top nut with a shifter.
Step 5: Turning on the water
When I turn the water back on, I like to turn on the bath hot and cold taps to a dribble. This will take out any knocking and backpressure when you turn on the main. Very slowly turn the main back on. The last thing you want to do is blow a hose somewhere.
Go back inside and check your tap - fingers crossed it's not leaking. If it is leaking, you will have to buy a re-seating tool and start the process again. A re-seating grinds the tap base flat so the spindle and or washer sits flat, but usually you won't need to do this.