Spring Sale — Up To £230 Off

How to Change a Tap Washer: A Beginner’s Guide

<strong>How to Change a Tap Washer: A Beginner’s Guide</strong>

A dripping tap is one of the most frustrating sounds in a home. It wastes water and money and finding the right solution to fix this issue can be challenging. Fortunately, changing a tap washer is a straightforward process that usually doesn’t require a plumber – so you don’t have to worry about spending excess time or money.

This blog post will provide an easy-to-follow guide on changing your tap washer, giving you peace of mind that those pesky drips will be gone for good.

What is a Tap Washer?

A tap washer is vital when it comes to maintaining and repairing various types of taps. Tap washers are tiny pieces of vulcanized rubber or plastic that fit between the tap’s handle and the spindle, using pressure to stop the water flow. It reduces the wear and tear on moving parts located near significant amounts of water flow, thus increasing longevity for the entire plumbing system.

Homeowners need to inspect their tap washers, as they can become worn out over time due to heavy use or exposure to harsh chemicals. Whether a sink, bathroom faucet, or valve system requires washers, having a steady supply at home can easily save them time and money in the long run.

Are All Washers the Same Size?

The short answer to this question is no. All tap washers are not the same size. Size depends on the tap fitting in question; bathroom taps generally have smaller washers than kitchen taps due to their smaller diameter, while outdoor taps often require a larger-sized washer to account for potential weather damage and wear and tear over time.

It’s also possible that two different taps from the same manufacturer might require different washer sizes, depending on their specific design requirements – for example, if one has additional or modified components such as aerators or spray heads. Knowing the exact size of your current tap washer is key for selecting the correct replacement one, so make sure you check this before you start shopping.

Types of Tap Washers

Flat Washers

Flat washers are so named because they are flat discs made from either rubber or felt with an adhesive backing. They are typically used for everyday wear and tear in taps. Because they are flat, they provide more coverage than other tap washers, making them ideal for use in high-flow taps where leakage may be more likely to occur. The downside to using flat washers is that they can become clogged with dirt or debris over time, reducing their effectiveness.

Cone Washers

Cone washers are slightly tapered discs made from rubber or felt with an adhesive backing. They fit snugly into the valve seat on a tap and provide extra sealing power due to their taper shape. These washers have better resistance to clogging than flat washers, making them ideal for use in low-flow taps where leakage is less likely to occur. The downside to cone washers is that they can be difficult to install due to their taper shape.

Fibre Washers

Fibre washers are usually made from aramid fibre such as Kevlar and have an adhesive backing. They provide superior sealing power compared to rubber or felt washer thanks to their tough construction material, which makes them almost impervious to wear and tear caused by water pressure or dirt build-up over time. The downside is that fibre washers can be expensive compared to other types of tap washers, but if you need superior sealing power, they are worth the investment.

Tools Needed for Changing a Tap Washer

Changing a tap washer is a pretty simple DIY repair task, and the right tools are essential to get it done correctly. This includes a slot, Philips, adjustable wrenches, socket pliers, an adjustable spanner, a basin wrench, pipe grips or mole grips, a faucet puller, and a crescent wrench. The slot and Philips wrench come in handy to remove any mounting screws that secure the faucet. An adjustable spanner can be used to unthread lock nuts whenever present, while a basin wrench helps to access tightly situated nuts below the sink.

several wrenches on a grey surface

Socket pliers can be used in larger taps where screws cannot fit well into a regular slot or Philips wrench of the desired size. Pipe grips or mole grips help hold pipes when adjusting them for installation or repairs. Finally, a faucet puller allows for the removal of old parts without damaging them. To ensure success with the repair job at hand, ensure that you have the proper size tools and ones that are long enough to get through hard-to-reach areas.

Safety Considerations

Safety should be the first priority when repairing or replacing a tap washer. Always turn off the mains water supply at the shutoff valve and ensure no pressure remains in the pipes before opening them up. Any wrong move may cause accidental flooding, so it is important to proceed cautiously. To protect yourself from being injured by hot water or steam, keep your face and hands away from pipes containing hot water before you turn back on the main supply.

In addition, always wear insulated gloves when dealing with taps or any exposed electricity as a safety precaution. Considering these considerations will provide enhanced safety for anyone working with tap washers.

Best Practices When Working With Taps and Faucets

Working with taps and faucets can be tricky, but with some best practices in mind, you can get the job done the right way. When it comes to repairing or replacing a tap or faucet, make sure to use the right tools and materials and observe all safety protocols. Don’t forget proper cleaning techniques either; it’s necessary to take apart, and hand wash all components of the fixture with non-abrasive soaps to ensure everything is free from dirt and debris before installation.

Knowing when to use a plumber’s putty or thread sealer is also imperative for a successful installation. Good practices like these will ensure your taps and faucets are sealed tightly and work properly for years to come.

Step-by-Step Guide to Replacing a Tap Washer

The first step is ensuring you have everything you need for the job. You will need the following tools: an adjustable wrench; a flathead screwdriver; a cloth rag; a pair of pliers; a new tap washer (the same size as the one being replaced); and plumbing tape or thread sealant compound.

Before doing anything else, turn off your main water supply valve and open up the hot and cold taps in your bathroom sink to drain any remaining water from the pipes. Next, use your adjustable wrench to remove the tap handle by unscrewing it counterclockwise until it comes free. Once it’s removed, set it aside in a safe place. Now use your flathead screwdriver to gently remove any decorative caps or covers protecting the valves underneath the handle.

Once you can see inside, locate and remove both old tap washers by using your pliers to hold them still while turning them clockwise until they come loose. Be sure not to damage any of the threads on either of these valves, as this could cause future leaks or water pressure problems. Use your cloth rag to wipe away any grime or debris from around where these valves were located before proceeding with installing new ones.

Take your new tap washers and use some plumbing tape or thread sealant compound on their edges before screwing them into place clockwise using your pliers once again. Make sure they are securely tightened without over-tightening them so that they do not become damaged or cause damage themselves, as this could lead to further problems. Finally, reattach your tap handle back onto its base by screwing it into place counterclockwise with your adjustable wrench until it is tight but not too tight.

How to Clean Up After Changing the Tap Washer

A cracked or worn-out tap washer can cause drips and leaks in the home, making it essential to replace them as soon as possible. After you have replaced the washer, cleaning up after your repair is essential. Start by wiping down the area around the tap to remove any grease or debris with a damp cloth or kitchen roll. Then add a few drops of vinegar or bleach to some warm water and follow up with a thorough scrub of the outside of the tap.

Finally, turn on the water and check for any drips or leaks before returning the fixture to its original position. This simple process will ensure that your new washer works properly over time and keep your sink looking great!

Common Mistakes

Using Incorrect Tools and Parts

One of the most common mistakes people make when changing a tap washer is using incorrect tools and parts. Before starting any home plumbing job, ensure you have all the right tools and materials. The wrong size or type of wrench or screwdriver could damage your taps or fittings and lead to further problems. You should also select the correct size of replacement washer and ensure that it fits snugly inside the housing before securing it with screws or bolts.

Failing To Shut off Water Supply

When carrying out any plumbing work, it’s essential that you shut off your water supply thoroughly before attempting any repairs or replacements. This will help prevent any accidents from occurring due to unexpected water flow. It’s also important to remember that the repair may require hot as well as cold water supplies, so be sure to check both taps before beginning work.

Unscrewing Too Much

Another common mistake when replacing a tap washer is unscrewing too much from the fixture during disassembly. If too much is removed, it can be difficult or impossible to reassemble everything securely and adequately after replacing the new washer—leading to further problems such as leaks or fixtures not fitting properly into their housings. To avoid this error, make sure not to remove anything beyond what’s necessary for replacing the old washer with a new one.

Different Ways of Seating the New Washer

There are several ways to seat a new tap washer correctly, which can help ensure its longevity and performance. Sometimes, you may need to use a screwdriver or wrench to remove the bonnet nut and remove the old washer before inserting the replacement. If the new washer has a split-ring design, you must first fit it into a groove in the stem, then secure it with screws using one of the abovementioned tools.

Another way is to press fit the new washer onto threads in the stem assembly and thread back in place. Before applying any pressure, ensure that the thread direction is correct and rotate the spindle until it sits against the valve seat’s face. You can also replace some plastic versions by simply pushing them in place from below, as long as enough spring tension is available. Regardless of which method you choose for seating your tap washer, it’s essential to follow all instructions carefully for optimal performance.

Troubleshooting Tips for Leaky Taps that Use a Tapered Rubber Washer

When dealing with leaky taps that use a tapered rubber washer, it is best to start off by turning off the water supply. Ensure all taps in the area are turned off, which will help isolate any potential issues. Check the tap carefully for any visible damage or wear and tear. If you suspect an issue with the tap, replace it with a new one.

a close-up shot of a leaking faucet

However, if all looks normal, try replacing the rubber washer – this is often the cause of most water leaks in this tap. If that still fails to solve the problem, then contact a professional plumber, as there may be an additional issue, such as corrosion or sediment inside the tap itself. These steps should help you troubleshoot and fix most leaky taps quickly and efficiently.

How to Test the New Tapered Rubber Washer

Testing a new tapered rubber washer can be intimidating, but with proper care and techniques, the process can be made much simpler. It’s important to inspect the washer closely and ensure it is free from defects and contamination.

Once you’ve verified quality, coat either side of the washer with a generous layer of lubricant to ensure a smooth fit when assembled in your product. Next, apply pressure or tension provided by either a machine or manual tool to verify that the washer deforms properly under pressure. The rate at which it deforms will also give you an idea of how well it retains its shape when released.

Finally, it is just as important to check whether the seal created by the washer holds up adequately under various environmental conditions, such as extreme temperatures and humidity levels. With these steps in mind, testing your tapered rubber washer can be easy and efficient!


Should You Hire a Professional?

When dealing with plumbing issues, it can be difficult to know whether you should tackle the issue on your own or hire a professional. When changing out a tap washer, this is one repair that is usually better left to experienced plumbers. This is mainly due to the fact that changing a washer requires shutting off the water supply, followed by disassembling the faucet, which can be complicated and time-consuming with hand tools if you don’t have any experience.

If this is not done correctly, there could be additional costly plumbing repairs down the road. Ultimately, hiring a professional will save valuable time and money in the long run and increase customer satisfaction with job security as well.

How Often Should You Replace a Washer?

Replacing a tap washer is an important yet often overlooked part of home maintenance. The frequency with which you should replace them depends on the type and quality of your taps and how much they are used. If you have high-usage taps and they use low-quality washers, then every year is likely a good idea.

If your taps don’t get significantly used and they have relatively high-quality washers installed, a couple of years or more between replacements should be just fine. You may also want to inspect the washers more frequently if subtle changes in water pressure are noted. Taking the time to do this maintenance can save you from costly repairs down the line!


That’s it! You’ve successfully changed a tap washer. Be sure to turn off the water before making any adjustments, and if you’re ever unsure about anything, don’t hesitate to call your local hardware store for advice. With these simple steps, you’ll be a taps expert in no time!

Read more about the benefits of boiling water taps, learn how a boiling water tap works or shop our full collection of taps.

Boiling and filtered water at your fingertips

View our full range of premium boiling water taps.

Shop now

Selection of products