How to fix Leaking Taps and Dripping Taps (by a London plumber)
REPAIRING A DRIPPING TAP
A dripping tap or leaking tap usually means that the tap washer needs renewing, but it can also be caused by a damaged valve seating. If the drip is from a mixer nozzle, then change both tap washers.
Removing the headgear
1 Turn off the water supply to the taps *. Make sure the tap is turned fully on, and put the plug into the plughole to stop any small parts falling down the waste pipe. This is an important tip and can save you a lot of time and aggravation later on.
*Turn off the water under the taps at the service valves or at the mains.
2 Unscrew or lever off the cover of a non-rising spindle tap to expose the retaining screw (use a flat head screwdriver). Remove the screw and put it in a safe place. Remove the head of the tap.
Alternatively with a rising spindle tap, prise off the index disc (in the centre of the handle) (again with a screwdriver) and remove the retaining screw to release the capstan (handle). Use an Adjustable spanner wrapped in some rag or cloth to unscrew the metal shroud and lift it from the headgear nut.
3 Undo the larger headgear nut with a spanner. Do not force the nut. If it is stiff, brace the tap body by hand or with a pipe wrench wrapped in a cloth, to prevent the tap from turning and fracturing or damaging the pipework attached to it. If you damage the pipe at this point it could cause a leak and you would need to call a plumber.
4 If the nut is still difficult to turn, apply penetrating oil round the joint, wait for about 10 minutes to give it time to soak in, then try again. You may have to make several applications. It is also possible to apply heat to it with and electric paint stripper or blow torch but be very careful.
Replacing the Washer
5 Prise off the washer with a screwdriver. If there is a small nut holding it in place, unscrew it with a spanner (normally 8mm). If it is difficult to undo, put penetrating oil round it and try again when is has soaked in. Then prise off the washer.
Alternatively if the nut proves to difficult to remove, then you can replace both the jumper valve and washer in one unit.
6 After fitting a new washer or washer and jumper valve, grease the threads on the base of the tap before reassembling. It is possible to get a special silicone gel from the plumbers merchants, but something like vaseline would do.
Repairing the valve seating
When renewing a washer, have a look at the valve seat inside the tap body. If it is rough or scored, possibly by grit, the seal between the washer and seat will not be effective even with a new washer and will let water by.
The easiest repair is with a combine washer and seating set, available at hardware stores.This has a plastic seat part, which fits into the valve seat, and a washer and jumper valve unit will fit into the headgear.
When the tap is turned off, the plastic seating is forced firmly into position. It may take a few days of using the tap for the new seating to give a completely watertight seal.
An alternative repair to the valve seat is to buy or hire a tap reseating tool and grind the seat smooth yourself.
Ceramic disc taps
Ceramic disc taps operate in a different way from conventional taps that have washers and main spindles. They have a cartridge in the body of the tap containing a pair of ceramic discs, each one with two holes in it.
One disc is fixed in position; the other rotates when the handle is turned. As the movable disc rotates, the holes in it line up with the holes in the fixed one and water flows through them. When the tap is turned off the movable disc rotates so that the holes no longer align.
A scratched ceramic disc can cause a Dripping or leaking tap, the entire cartridge must be replaced; REMEMBER, left-handed for a hot tap or right-handed for a cold tap. Remove the damaged cartridge and take it with you when buying a replacement to make sure it is the correct size and left or right hand. Ceramic taps can also drip at the base of the cartridge if the seal has perished.
Checking the ceramic discs
1 Turn off the water supply. Pull off the tap handles (it may be necessary to unscrew a small retaining screw on each) and use a spanner to unscrew the headgear section.
2 Carefully remove the ceramic cartridges, Remembering which is hot and which cold. Check both cartridges for dirt and damage.
3 If the cartridges are worn, replace with identical parts for the tap unit. Make sure the hot and cold cartridges are fitted into the correct taps.
4 If the cartridges are dirty, clean them with a damp cloth. Replace the rubber seal, if it is worn. Replace the cartridge in the tap unit, fitting the hot and cold cartridges into the appropriate taps.
Curing a leak
A Leaking Tap, where the leak is from the body of the tap – from round the spindle, the base of a swivel spout, or the diverter lever on a shower mixer tap – may indicate a faulty glands (seal between the body of the tap and the spindle) or O-ring seal.
Possible causes. This type of leak is most likely to occur in a kitchen cold tap with a bell-shaped cover and visible spindle. Soapy water from wet hands may have run down the spindle and washed the grease out of the gland that makes a watertight joint round the spindle. If the tap is used with a garden hose, back pressure from the hose connection will also weaken the gland.
On a modern tap, especially one with a shrouded head, there is an O-ring seal instead of a gland, and it is not often that this needs replacing. O-ring seals on the other hand may sometimes become worn,
Adjusting the gland
It is not necessary to cut off the water supply.
1 With the tap turned off, undo the small screw that secures the capstan handle and put it in a safe place (it is very easily lost), then remove the handle. If there is no screw, the handle should just pull off..
2 Remove the bell-shaped cover of the whole tap to reveal the gland nut – the highest nut on the spindle. Tighten the nut about half a turn with a spanner.
You can use wood blocks (cloths pegs) for this.
3 Turn the tap on by temporarily slipping the handle back on, then check whether there is still a leak from the spindle. If there is not, turn the gland nut another quarter turn and reassemble the tap. Do not over tighten the gland nut, or this will make the tap hard to turn off.
4 If there is still a leak, give another half turn and check again.
5 If the gland continues leaking after you have adjusted it as far as possible, then you will need to repack the gland.
Replacing the packing
1 With the tap turned off and the handle and cover removed as above, use a spanner to remove the gland nut and take it out.
2 Pluck out the old packing with a sharp implement or small screwdriver. Replace it with packing string from a plumber’s merchant or with PTFE tape stretched into a thin string. Pack it in with a screwdriver, replace the gland nut and reassemble the tap, and turn on to test.
One large open-ended spanner, normally 20mm for a 12mm tap or 24mm for a 19mm tap (or use an adjustable spanner); old screwdriver (for prising). Possibly also one small spanner (normally 8mm); one or two pipe wrenches; cloth for padding jaws; one 5mm, one 10mm screwdriver.
Replacement washer or a washer-and-jumper valve unit; alternatively, a washer-and-seating set; petroleum jelly. Possibly also penetrating oil.
Packaging materials (gland-packing string or PTFE tape). Possibly also silicone grease; O-rings (and possibly washers) of the correct size – take the old ones with you when buying, or give the make of the tap.
It is very possible with a little time and the correct tools for almost anyone to repair Leaking Taps and Dripping Taps. Just follow the stages above. Good Luck...........
Please see below for selecting taps.
Taps -which are now very much a fashion item -come in different styles and colours. Not all taps are built to last, so check the quality if you are buying for the long term. Chromium-plated brass taps are the most durable. Check that the taps You are considering will fit the layout of holes in the basin for which they are intended. (old reclaimed London taps are very nice).
The secret to avoiding leaking taps and dripping taps is to only install good quality taps.
.The right pressure Some taps imported from the Continent have relatively small inlets and are intended for use with mains- pressure supply only. These taps will not work efficiently if they are connected to a low-pressure tank, fed supply.
The majority of washbasins are fitted with individual taps for hot and cold water. While capstan-head taps are still manufactured for use in period-style bathrooms, most modern taps have a shrouded head made of metal or plastic.
A lever-head tap turns the water from off to full on with one quarter turn only.
This type is convenient for the elderly or disabled, who may have difficulty in manipulating other taps.
In a mixer tap, hot and water cold are directed to a common spout. Water is supplied at the desired temperature
by adjustment of the two valves. With a single-lever mixer tap, flow rate and temperature are controlled by adjusting the one lever.
~ Washbasin mixer taps sometimes incorporate a pop-up waste plug. A series of interlinked rods, operated by. a button or small knob on the centre of the mixer, open and close the waste plug in the basin.
Normally, the body of the tap, which connects the valves and spout, rests on the upper surface of the washbasin. But it is also possible to mount it in its entirety on the wall above the basin. Another alternative is for the valves to be mounted on the basin and divert
hot and cold water to a spout mounted on the wall above.
Over recent years there have been some revolutionary changes in the design of taps that have made them easier to operate and simpler to maintain.
This traditional tap design has a washer on the end of a spindle that rises as the tap is turned on. It is a simple, rugged mechanism that lasts for years.
Theoretically, these taps should exhibit fewer problems than rising-spindle taps, so that leaking taps and dripping taps are not such a problem.
This is because the mechanism imposes less wear on the washer. In practice, however, the spindle's fine-thread is prone to wear, and there is potential for misalignment caused by the circlip, that holds the mechanism in place.
With these taps, precision-ground ceramic discs are used in place of the traditional rubber washer. One disc is fixed and the other rotates until the waterways through them align and water flows. There is minimal wear, as hard-water scale or other debris is unlikely to interfere with the close fit of the discs. However, if a problem does develop, the entire inner cartridge and the lower seal can be replaced. This is described for leaking and dripping ceramic taps above.
Single-lever mixer tap
Moving the lever up and down turns the water on and off. Swinging it from one side to the other gradually increases the temperature, by mixing more hot water with the cold.
Tap types include
Basin and bath taps Single capstan-head
, pillar taps
Single-lever taps One-hole basin mixer,Two-hole bath mixer Three-hole basin mixer Shower-mixer deck. London taps
Rising-spindle tap Traditional taps are made with a rising spindle.
Non-rising-head tap A spindle that doesn't revolve reduces wear on the washer. (london)
The rubber washer is replaced with rotating ceramic discs.
If you have leaking taps on your gas boiler then this can be a more specialist area.
A leaking boiler may mean you need a boiler replacement to solve the problem if the boiler is very old.
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