How to Change a Tap Washer in 9 Easy Steps

If you’ve never fixed a leaking tap, don’t worry, you’re not alone, and it’s much easier than you might first think.  A leaking tap can cause a lot of problems if not fixed quickly, including potentially damaging your home, wasting water and causing your water bill to skyrocket. The good news is that learning how to change a tap washer is all that is required in most cases to stop a tap from leaking.

If you’re unsure what a tap washer is, it’s the small disc that sits inside the tap that creates a seal to stop the water leaking. They can break down and wear out over time, but they are straightforward to replace. All you need to do once you have the old washer is go for a quick trip to the hardware store and show someone who will replace it with a new one of the correct size. But before you do this, here are a few steps on how to get to that stage first!

Table of Contents:

tap washer

Step 1: Turn off the water at the main

Locate where your main water meter is and switch it off. Most houses have it out the front of the house where the water meter is. You don’t want to mess with pipes and still have your water on.

Step 2: Have your tool kit ready

If you don’t have a basic toolkit, it’s time to get one. For this job, you’ll need a few of the basics like spanners, pliers, screwdrivers, and a rag. If your tap is outside you can let it run to the ground but if it’s inside, grab a bucket or some old towels to mop up the excess water.

Step 3: Turn on the tap to drain the pipes

Once the main water is turned off, you’ll still have quite a bit of water in the pipes, and you’ll want to drain this out completely. If you tap is outside, let it drain onto the ground or catch it in a bucket to reuse on plants. If you’re inside let it flow through the sink till there are no drips left. The water should stop pretty quickly if your main has been turned off successfully.

Step 4: Loosen the tap head

Different taps will have different heads. If it’s a traditional outside tap, you’ll need to remove the spindle from the tap. This will require a spanner in most cases. If it’s wedged on hard, try using a spanner on the spindle head and one on the base to stop it moving.  And loosen the spindle enough to take the head of the tap off.  If it’s an inside tap, the tap might have a button that says ‘hot’ or ‘cold’ which will pop off with a screwdriver.

If you’ve got more modern-style tap, it may not even have washers inside as these are washerless, but it’s rare these will leak like older taps. These may have ball valves or ceramic discs. These usually have pivoting handles that control the water and will have an ‘O-ring’ that needs replacing rather than a washer.

Step 5: Take off the tap head and handle

Now you can take off the tap handle and head of the tap so you can have a good look inside the body of the tap. There will be a plastic of brass jumper value inside and inside this will be the washer. The washer may put straight out, or you might need tweezers to remove it.

Step 6: Buy A New Washer

Now you have the old washer; it’s time to take it to your hardware store and match a new one that is the correct size for your tap. If your jumper valve is undamaged, you’ll get away with just buying a new washer. Make sure you take the parts to the hardware store so they can help you buy the right parts if you’re not quite sure what to replace with.

Step 7: Replace the washer

Once back home, replace the new washer and put the jumper value back in place. Screw the tap bonnet or spindle back on and tighten it with a spanner.

test the water

Step 8: Test The Water Flow

Once you’ve tightened the tap completely make sure the tap is turned to the off position. Then turn the water back on at the main source. Once the main is back on, test the tap when it’s turned on and off a few times. There shouldn’t now be any leaks or drips.

Step 9: Congratulate yourself

If there are now no drips in the tap, you’ve done a great job, and you’ve successfully changed your tap washer.

However, if you’ve still got a leak or some drips, don’t despair! Give our friendly team at DCM plumbing a call straight away, and we will have one of our expert plumbers to your home to complete your job.

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