Save your cash - and learn a simple DIY skill that will save a visit from the plumber. Most taps can be fixed with a new washer, costing just a few pence.
Two adjustable wrenches
Slot head screwdriver
£1 for a pack of washers. Ceramic cartridges may cost up to £10
10 minutes and you should be able to cure most drips
Step One: Turn Off The Water Supply
To turn off the water supply to the tap, look for a valve underneath the sink and turn it until the tap runs dry. Older homes may not have individual washers for each tap - in this case, you will need to turn off the mains stopcock. This is usually located under the kitchen sink.
Step Two: Drain The Water From The Tap
Turn on the dripping tap until the water stops running. For hot taps, make sure the immersion heater and boiler are also switched off. Turn off the valve on the cold feed pipe to your cylinder and run the hot taps. Turn on all the cold water taps in the bathroom to empty the tank. When no more water comes out, run the hot taps until these run dry as well.
Step Three: Carefully Open The Tap
Put the plug in to stop the washer going into the waste pipe. Protect the tap's finish by placing a cloth over the stem before using the adjustable wrench to carefully unscrew the top of the tap. Some taps have a top cover that must be removed before you can unscrew the stem of the tap. If the tap moves, place another wrench on the large nut underneath the basin to hold it steady. On the underneath of the tap mechanism, or collar, is the washer. Prise off with a screwdriver.
Step Four: Fit The New Washer
Clean the stem with a cloth and fit the new washer. Screw the collar back into the body of the tap and replace any cover pieces. Take out the plug and turn on the water supply to test that the tap has stopped dripping. If the tap still leaks, you may have to clean the brass in the body of the tap, directly below the washer (the ‘seating').
Illustrations: Ed Roberts
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