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How to change a tap washer

Prevent dripping taps from ruining your peace by learning how to replace a tap washer.


Reading Time: 2 minutes

a running metal tap

Everyone knows how annoying the noise of a dripping tap can be but it’s not always as difficult to fix as you might think! Usually, it all comes down to simply knowing the answer to the question “how do you change a tap washer?" While most of us weren’t taught this at school, it’s an easy skill to pick up. Let's learn how.

Before learning how to replace a tap washer, be sure to identify which type of tap you have. Not every style can follow the standard instructions.

How to change a tap washer

Before you start learning how to replace a tap washer, you need to know where to find it. A regular tap washer is actually made of two main parts: the washer seat and the actual washer. The washer sits just above the seat and is a circular device that’s generally larger than the seat. Once you’ve found it, here’s how to change it in a standard tap:

  1. Turn off your water supply.

  2. Use a screwdriver to remove the tap’s cover, before removing the inner valve with a spanner.

  3. Beneath the valve you’ll find the tap washer.

  4. Remove the washer with a spanner, using a little penetrating oil if it’s stiff.

  5. Replace the washer with a new one in the same size.

  6. Put the rest of the tap back together again. Easy!

How to change a washer on an old-fashioned tap

Wondering how to replace a tap washer on old taps? It’s a little different from the standard instructions above.

Follow these steps to make sure you fix yours properly:

  • Remove the handle’s decorative cap before unscrewing the handle screw.

  • Remove the whole handle, unscrewing the packing nut with a wrench.

  • Once you’ve unscrewed the stem, you can remove the seat washer within. It should be held in place with a screw.

  • Put the tap back together again, ensuring everything is in the right place and you’re not left with any leftover screws - that’s never a good sign!

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How to change a washer on a mixer tap

When it comes to mixer taps, modern styles usually contain a cartridge that needs to be replaced rather than a washer. If they do contain a washer, its location depends on the style of mixer tap you have, so you may need to take yours apart to get a better idea of how to change a bathroom tap washer.

Once you know how to replace a tap washer, you’ll be able to fix dripping taps easily. If you follow our instructions for how to change a tap washer and yours is still leaking, check out more tips on how to fix a leaking tap or call in some professional help if it's a serious drip or leak.

Originally published