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Planning & preparation

  • Try and identify where the leak is coming from and what the cause may be. If water is leaking from the spout, then you probably need to replace the washer, but if the leak is from beneath the handle, then the valve O-Ring may need replacing. If the leak is beneath the spout then it’s likely that the spout O-Ring will need replacing
  • There are generally two types of valve devices that you might come across: compression valve or ceramic disc valve. The type of valve you have will determine what type of washers you need
  • Ceramic disc valve taps, that reach full power after half a turn or less, will almost certainly use ceramic washers
  • Compression valve taps, that need a full turn or more to reach maximum power, will use rubber washers
  • If old washers are the cause of the problem, then you will need to access the valve. Compression valves are mechanical devices inside the tap that control the water flow. In this style of tap, a rubber washer at the base of the valve forms a seal to stop water flow. If this washer wears away, then drips can occur
  • A ceramic valve uses ceramic discs rather than rubber washers. Both rubber and ceramic washers come in different sizes so you need to make sure you replace like for like
  • Hot valves will have a red bottom seal, whereas cold valves will have a blue bottom seal. The difference between the two is the direction in which the valve turns
  • Before you start any plumbing work, turn off your water supply. Once the water is off, run the taps to release the pressure in the pipes
  • Always check the manufacturer’s instructions in case your particular tap has specific instructions

Do it right

  • Before you start to dismantle your tap, put the plug into the sink so you don’t accidentally lose any small parts down the plughole
  • Spanners and screwdrivers can easily scratch chrome taps, so where possible use a soft cloth to protect the finish
  • It’s important not to over-tighten a washer or valve when reassembling, as this may damage or cause excess stress on the joint

Staying safe

  • Wear safety goggles throughout the process, as a precautionary measure
  • Be mindful that some edges may be sharp

Aftercare

  • Rubber washers used in compression valve taps can show signs of premature wear if they are over-tightened. Taps of this type often continue to drip for a short space of time, even when fully closed, so resist the temptation to tighten them further than necessary

How to fix a leaking sink

Step 1

Start by turning off your water supply. To do this, locate the stopcock and turn it clockwise.

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How to fix a compression valve tap

Step 1

If your tap has a handle cap then carefully remove it in order to access the screw within. Then, use a screwdriver to remove the handle to expose the top of the valve.

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Step 2

Unscrew the rest of the valve cover.

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Step 3

Use an adjustable spanner to loosen the valve then remove it.

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Step 4

Hold the valve steady in an adjustable spanner and use a screwdriver to remove the screw that holds the washer in place. Replace with a new washer.

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Step 5

Once this is done, screw the valve, valve cover and tap handle back into position and replace the handle cap.

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How to fix a ceramic disc valve tap

Step 1

Remove the handle cap to expose the top of the valve. You may need an Allen key, depending on the style of your tap.

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Step 2

Use an adjustable spanner to loosen the valve then remove it.

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Step 3

Check the ceramic disc valve for damage, grime or wear and clean it or replace it if need be.

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Step 4

Secure the valve and handle cap back into position.

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How to replace a valve O-Ring

Step 1

Follow the instructions above to remove the valve depending on your type of tap.

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Step 2

Remove the worn or damaged O-ring with a screwdriver.

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Step 3

Roll the replacement O-ring into position and then secure the valve back into position.

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How to replace a spout 0-Ring

Step 1

Use a box spanner to loosen the nut that holds the tap to the sink from below.

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Step 2

Twist the tap round to give you better access, then use a screwdriver to remove the grub screw.

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Step 3

Lift the spout out to give you access to the O-ring, which is the rubber ring at the base of the spout. Use a screwdriver to help you remove the ring.

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Step 4

Roll the replacement O-ring into position.

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Step 5

To replace the spout, line up the marker on the spout with the groove in the tap body and slot the spout back into position. Secure the tap in place by re-tightening the grub screw and the nut underneath the sink.

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