Solving Plumbing Problems

Nothing's more annoying in a kitchen or bathroom than a dripping tap. Fixing the problem is a simple DIY job that will save you a hefty plumber's call out charge and only takes 15 minutes to fix.

First, turn off the water supply, either at the mains or at the service valve on the pipe to the faulty tap. Put the plug in so that small bits can't be lost down the waste pipe. Take off the top of the tap either by pulling it or removing the centre cover on the handle and undoing the small retaining screw. Wrap a tea towel around the body of the tap and hold it firmly with an adjustable wrench. Use a second wrench to unscrew the large brass headgear nut. If it's stuck, spray with penetrating oil, such as WD40, and wait a few minutes.

Dripping tap

On the underside of the headgear nut is the washer that you can prise off with a screwdriver. Push the new washer into place and screw the headgear back on to the tap but don't over-tighten it. Replace the tap top and turn on the water supply to check for drips.

If the tap still drips, the area underneath the washer may be worn, coated with limescale or scratched. This can be fixed with a special re-seating tool available from plumber's merchants or DIY stores. Push the end of the tool into the tap and twist it round to clean the metal. Even easier is to buy a combined washer and seating pack from a plumber's merchant.

Ceramic disc taps

If your taps are reasonably new and only need a quarter twist to turn off or on, they will have ceramic discs instead of washers. Undo the top of the tap and unscrew the brass valve to reach the ceramic cartridge. Take the whole piece along to a plumbing centre for a replacement as the discs come in various sizes and are right-handed (cold) or left-handed (hot). You may also need to replace the thin rubber seal around the cartridge.

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