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How to Change a Tap Washer and Fix Dripping Taps

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Is your kitchen or bathroom faucet constantly going “drip, drip, drip?” As much as you’d like to bury the sound of your dripping tap to the back of your mind, it’s highly probable that you’ve got an issue with your tap washer.


Wondering what a tap washer is? Tap washers are disc-shaped appliances that create a watertight seal by pushing against the seat of your tap when the faucet is turned off.

While that may sound complicated, these unique devices prevent water from leaking through and out of the tap to ensure your sinks remains spotless!

If your faucet is leaking and there’s no visible reason, it could mean that your tap washer needs to be replaced. 

Changing tap washers is a lot more straightforward than you might think. Nonetheless, if you’re stuck, continue reading our expert DIY guide on “How to change a tap washer“, which will ensure you get your faucet working in perfect order within a few simple steps. 

What do I need to consider when replacing my tap washer?

If your taps are leaking because your internal washer is worn or damaged, first, you need to learn what type of washer fits your faucet so that you can purchase a matching replacement.

What type of tap do you own?

Most traditional taps tend to use rubber washers; however, modern faucets tend to be fitted with ceramic discs, which are more resilient and durable than conventional washers.

If you can’t bear the thought of having another dripping tap, you might want to consider investing in faucets with ceramic discs.

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Make sure you gather the necessary tools to change the washer

When changing your washer, you’ll need to have several basic tools at hand to disassemble and reassemble the tap.

Hopefully, you’ll have all the tools you need in a toolbox at home, and if not, you can find all the products you’ll need at an affordable price available at a hardware store or online.

To replace a rubber washer, you’ll need:

  • A flat blade screwdriver
  • Replacement washer
  • Adjustable spanner or wrench
  • Towel/cloth

If you’re repairing a leak from a faucet with a ceramic disc, you’ll need a new ceramic tap cartridge and Allen keys.

Have you turned off your water supply?

Before you carry out any DIY plumbing work, whether that be on kitchen sinks, bathroom basins, showerhead alterations or any other appliances connected to your water mains, ensure that the water supply has been turned off to avoid flood risks.

Some kitchens have an isolation valve located beneath the sink, which, when turned, will allow the homeowner to cut the connection to the water mains. If your sink does not have an isolation valve, you will need to turn off the main water supply.

If your replacing the tap washer on your hot water faucet, also remember to switch the boiler off to prevent being scalded.

Plug the drain to prevent screws from falling down the drain

If your sink has a plug or integrated stopper that can block the drain opening, make sure that it is pushed into position.

If not, plug your drain with an old cloth or wad of paper towels, which you can remove after you’ve fitted the new washer.

As your faucet contains small screws and washers, plugging your sink will make sure nothing falls down the drain. We also advise making a note of the order in which components were removed during the disassembly process to streamline the tap’s reassembly. 

Once you’ve taken the precautions and gather the tools outlined above, you can begin repairing your dripping tap! 

How to replace a tap washer on a sink

Using your flat blade screwdriver, gently slide this underneath the tap cover for traditional faucets and lift the lid off the faucet, exposing the valve.

Holding the spout firmly in place, use your adjustable spanner to undo the valve (or brass locking nut), turning anti-clockwise until tap headgear comes free.

If you own a modern tap, you will need to use a flathead screwdriver to ease the hot/cold button off the handle. After this step has been performed, use an Allen key to unscrew the bolt holding the top part of the faucet together to reveal a brass locking nut.

Once the locking nut has been removed, release the brass circlip from the faucet’s body, then push down the spindle, which will free the valve mechanism. Beneath the locking nut will be the ceramic disc, which in most cases falls free once the retaining washer is tapped against a hard surface.

Step 2: Replace the washer

After removing the faucet headgear, you’ll find your worn washer secured at the end of the device with a screw or bolt.

Remove the screw or bolt and replace the old tap washer with one of identical size. If your valve or locking nut is not fixed with a screw or nut underneath, remove the old washer and fit the replacement.

For modern taps with ceramic discs, remove the existing cartridge from the retaining washer and carefully insert the new disc. According to manufacturer advice, you should also apply grease to the brass locking nut’s thread.

Step 3: Reassemble the tap

After replacing the tap washer or ceramic disc, carry out the same steps in reverse, reactivate your water supply, flush out any isolated water, and your dripping tap should be good as new!

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