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how to change a tap washer

How To Change a Tap Washer

When it comes to the taps in your home, there can be a lot of problems that occur, including faulty tap washers. This guide helps you learn how to change tap washers if you ever experience a leaky faucet in your home. 

Taps are necessary items in all homes. Tap water is used for a number of things in a household, from drinking to washing, cooking, and toilet flushing. So, when a problem occurs, it can be very disruptive to your day-to-day life and household activities. 

If you’re dealing with a leaky or a dripping tap, the chances are that you’ll have to replace the washer. While it may not sound like a highly complex task, you need to know what you’re doing to get the job done right the first time and prevent future problems. So, what does changing a tap washer involves? Glad you asked! 

This comprehensive guide to common tap problems and how to change your tap washers will teach you everything you need to know to deal with this plumbing emergency in your home. 

The Real Causes of a Leaky Tap 

Experiencing a problem with your tap can be a pretty frustrating experience. 

Just imagine that you wake up one morning, and you rush to your bathroom to do your morning routine only to notice that there’s a puddle in your bathroom because of your leaky tap. Or, maybe the tap water doesn’t run at all. Both of these scenarios can ruin your day. And, they can also cause a lot of damage to your home. 

But, the real question here is what is causing these problems with your taps? Well, there are plenty of causes of a leaky faucet, including: 

  • Bad O-ring 
  • Worn-out cartridge
  • Corroded valve seat
  • Worn-out washers 
  • Worn-out seals 
  • Water pressure
  • Loose parts
  • Broken parts

So, the first thing you want to do when dealing with a leaky faucet is to identify the cause. This is the only way to fix it correctly and avoid future problems. 

Ways A Leaky Tap Can Affect You 

A leaky tap can cause more damage than you would imagine. It doesn’t just ruin your day because you step in a puddle that has formed into your bathroom or can’t do your morning routine as you’re used to. 

Leaky taps also affect you in these ways:

  • They are a constant annoyance. The dripping sound from a faulty tap can drive you mad at some point. 
  • They can lead to a build-up of mould in your bathroom. The damp areas in your bathroom created by the moisture coming from the leaky tap will lead to the formation of mould. 
  • Mould is a perfect environment for bacteria and insects to gather which can also affect the health of your loved ones. 
  • Leaking taps can also cause structural damage to your home. The water can infiltrate and impact the walls, floors and foundation of your property. 

How Much Water Waste Is Caused by A Leaky Tap? 

When you leave a dripping tap problem unsolved, you contribute to a lot of water wastage which can impact both the environment and your water bills. 

Estimates suggest that a single leaky tap can lead to the waste of 10.000 litres of water every year. So, if you leave a dripping faucet unsolved for a year, that’s approximately how much water will be wasted. 

Not dealing with a leaky tap quickly will very soon make you notice that your water bills will start to increase significantly. Not to mention that this is a very environmental-friendly scenario. 

Why Would You Need to Change a Tap Washer? 

If you’ve identified the tap washer as being the reason why you are now struggling with a dripping tap, that’s the problem you should address. 

You’ve likely tried tightening the tap washer, but that didn’t stop the leaking. The only results are that you’re left with a hand cramp and a tap that you can’t turn back on. 

The job of a tap washer is to make a watertight seal when you turn the tap off by pushing against the seat. This should prevent any water from flowing through and out of the tap. But, when the tap washer isn’t doing its job right, you’re left with a leaky faucet which can lead to water damage in your home. 

Unfortunately, tap washers, like many other things in your home, don’t last forever. Any damage to the tap washer is very likely to result in a leaky tap. 

How Often Should You Replace Tap Washers in Your Home? 

Tap washers are rarely the first thing that comes into your mind when you think of home maintenance. But you should become more considerate of maintaining your plumbing items better because they can cause some pretty damaging effects, as mentioned above. 

 So, how often should a homeowner replace the tap washers in their homes? 

Generally, if you don’t notice any problem with your tap washer, you shouldn’t change it. However, if you want to prevent any plumbing emergency caused by a broken tap washer, you should embrace the idea that these items can worn out when you expect them the least and change them more often. 

More precisely, sometimes, tap washers only last about 12 months or even less, depending on the quality of the product and how good of a job you did when you installed it. So, if you’re not sure that your tap washer still has a long lifetime ahead, better change it prior to experiencing a plumbing emergency. 

The two obvious signs when your tap washers need replacement are: 

  1. When the faucet still drips even if the taps are turned off.
  2. When the water won’t turn off at all. 

Is Changing Your Tap Washers A DIY Job?

Yes and no. the answer to this question can depend on how handy you are as a person and whether or not you know some basic plumbing. Another aspect that may influence whether or not you can change the tap washers in your home on your own is whether or not there is another issue with the tap, other than a worn-out or broken tap washer. 

Generally, changing a tap washer is a relatively simple task for people who have a sound knowledge of basic plumbing. 

Step-By-Step Guide to Changing Tap Washers 

Now you know all the problems you may experience because of a dripping tap that leaks because of a faulty tap washer. You also know that sometimes it is better to replace your tap washer even if there is no obvious sign that there is a problem. 

But, the question still remains, “how do you change tap waters?” 

Well, if you’re looking for a detailed answer to this question, you’ve come to the right place. This section of our article will offer you step-by-step guidance for changing the tap washers into your home. 

Step 1: Gather all the tools you need 

Like any handy job, replacing a tap washer will require you to use specific tools that will make your job easier. The tools needed for changing a tap washer are already in your toolbox if you own one. So, you likely won’t have to go above and beyond to find what you need. 

The tools you’ll need are: 

  • Crescent wrench 
  • Flat-head screwdriver
  • Philips screwdriver
  • Adjustable pliers 
  • Needle-nose pliers 
  • Steel wool 

Step 2: Turn off the water supply 

Once you’ve gathered all the tools you need for the job, you still have one more preparation step: to turn off the water supply in your home. 

Take a look underneath the bathroom or kitchen sink and, if you know some basic plumbing, you should be able to spot the two shutoff valves pretty quickly. Turn both of them clockwise and make sure that they are fully closed. Next, make sure to turn on the cold and hot faucets so that all the water that is still in the lines to drain. 

Step 3: Plug the drain 

Is this really a necessary step? No, but it is smart to do it. By plugging the drain, you avoid losing any faucet pieces down the pipe, which will only make things a lot more complicated for you. 

You can use a piece of cloth or a small wad of paper towel. As long as the drain is fully covered, anything will do. 

Step 4: Take off the cover of the faucet tap and remove the handle 

Grab the flat-head screwdriver and remove the plastic or metal cap that is on top of the taps. Simply wedge the blade of the screwdriver beneath the cap and pop it off. 

Next, use the screwdriver and turn the screw counterclockwise until it becomes free and you can remove it. After this step, you should be able to grab and remove the tap handle from the tap stem. 

Step 5: Pull out the tap stem 

For this step, you’ll need your crescent wrench adjusted perfectly to help you loosen the hexagonal packing nut. Once you’re all set, turn counterclockwise until it becomes free. After this, you should be able to lift the tap stem up and take it out of the sink. 

Step 6: Look underneath the tap stem for the nut/ screw that holds the rubber washer

At the bottom of the tap stem, you will find a small nut or screw that also holds the rubber washer. Use a screwdriver or adjustable pliers to remove either the screw or the nut, and then also remove the rubber washer by using needle-nose pliers. 

Step 7: Place the new tap washer 

Assuming that you have used the old tap washer as an example to buy a new one and you have the right type of tap washer, it is time to install it. 

Start by placing the new washer and old screw or nut onto the bottom of the tap stem. Next, depending on what your tap stem uses, use a screwdriver or pliers to tighten the screw or nut back in place. 

Step 8: Remove any debris 

If there is any limescale or other debris on the tap stem, make sure that you remove it. You can use a piece of steel wool before reinstalling it. 

Step 9: Reinstall the tap stem back 

Every step you make to disassemble the tap, you need to do it again, only in reverse to reassemble the tap. 

  • Place the tap stem in place. 
  • Use the same crescent wrench to put the packing nut back in place.
  • Reinstall the handle over the tap stem.
  • Put the cap over the screw and press until it snaps into place.

Step 10: Turn the water supply back on 

Once you’re done changing the tap washer, you’ll have to turn back on the hot and cold water supply. Similarly to how you’ve turned off the water supply, you need to tun the shutoff valves counterclockwise this time. 

Step 11: Check for leaks 

Your job isn’t complete until you make absolutely sure that there are no leaks still happening. 

After you turn on the water supply, allow the water to run at full force for a couple of minutes. Next, turn off the tap and see if the tap drips. If no water drips from the faucet, your job here is done. 

If the tap still leaks, it means that the cause for the dripping wasn’t the tap washer in the first place. So, you should inspect the tap to see what else needs replacement or call an expert plumber to assist you. 

Should You Call an Expert Plumber in Sydney to Change Your Tap Washer? 

If you feel like you can’t handle the job on your own, or that you may actually cause more plumbing issues to your tap, or maybe you simply don’t have the time for it, the answer is, “Absolutely!” 

Tap washer replacement is a minor task for any experienced plumber. If it would take you about an hour to get the job done, a specialist will probably do it in a couple of minutes because they already have the know-how and the necessary tools. What’s more, it’s also doubtful that you’ll pay a fortune for tap washer replacement services. 

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