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How to replace a tap washer

EricL
Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Difficulty: Beginner

Fix a leaking tap by replacing the tap washer. A tap washer is a rubber valve that creates a watertight seal when the tap is closed and prevents water from leaking.


Please note you may need to engage a licensed plumber for this project. If in doubt, consult your local building authority before you begin.

Steps

Step 1

Turn off the mains water tap.

Locate your water meter box and turn off the mains water tap. This is the main pipe supplying water to your house. You may need a pair of pliers to turn the tap off.

Turn on the tap that needs replacing and let the hot or cold water flow until all the water has drained.

 

Step 1.1 turn off mains water.png  Step 1.2 Drain tap.png

Step 2

Remove the tap handle.


Identity the type of tap handle you have and remove it from the spindle. The spindle is the centre post that the tap handle uses to connect to the tap body. When the tap handle is turned it rotates the spindle and regulates the water flow.


The type of tap handle you have determines how you can remove it.

Lever or pin handle

Lever or pin tap handles typically have a hidden grub screw on the side that can be removed with an Allen key. If the grub screw is not visible, unscrew the tap’s pin handle and check to see if it is inside. Remove the grub screw to release the handle.

Step 2.1 Locate grub screw in lever and pin type tap handle.png  Step 2.2. Lever handle removed.png

 

T-handle


T-handle taps typically have a grub screw located on the side, a hidden nut underneath or a screwed hot/cold button on top. Remove the grub screw with an Allen key, the hidden nut with a vandal-proof spanner, or the button with an adjustable wrench to release the handle. 

Step 2.3 T-Handle grub removed.png  Step 2.4 Position tool to line up with slots.png  Step 2.5 Position adjustable wrench on locking nut.png

Standard plastic handle


Standard plastic handles usually have a brass locking nut within the handle that is hidden under a plastic cap. Use a flat head screwdriver to remove the cover cap and use pliers or a socket wrench to remove the locking nut.

Step 2.6 Plastic cover lifted.png  Step 2.7 Remove nut plastic handle.png

 

 

Step 3

Remove the spindle cover.

Locate the spindle cover on your tap. This is a decorative or protective domed plate that covers the base or mounting area of the tap. It helps conceal any gaps or imperfections around the tap hole.

Turn the spindle cover anti-clockwise to remove it.

If it is stuck, spray the cover with WD-40 and allow to soak.

If the cover is fixed in place with silicone, use a craft knife to cut away the silicone.

Once you have loosened the cover, turn it and lift to remove.

 

Step 3.1 Spray with WD-40.png  Step 3.2 Cut silicone.png  Step 3.3 Remove spindle cover.png

 

 

Step 4

Remove the spindle.


Position an adjustable wrench on the spindle body. Turn the spindle anti-clockwise to loosen it.


Once the spindle is loose, turn and remove it from the sink. The tap valve should now be clearly visible. This is a small rubber or fiber disc that forms a watertight seal within the tap body. It regulates water flow by opening or closing the water pathway.


If the tap valve is stuck or left inside the tap body, use multigrip pliers to pinch the tap valve’s post and lift out.

 

Step 4.1 Position adjustable wrench.png  Step 4.2 Remove spindle by hand.png  Step 4.3 Tap valve left inside tap body.png  Step 4.4 Use pliers to remove old tap valve.png

 

 

Step 5

Replace the tap washer.


Gather your tap valve repair kit.


Hold the tap's brass body and turn the spindle clockwise to separate it from the body. Replace the old fibre washer on the tap's brass body with the new one.

Replace the O rings on the spindle. Apply lubricant to the new O rings and spindle. Re-insert the spindle back into the tap's brass body.

Now position the new tap valve at the bottom of the spindle and screw the tap body back into place. Use an adjustable wrench to tighten the nut.

 

Follow Step 1 in reverse order to re-assemble your tap handle.

 

Remember to turn the tap off before turning your mains water tap back on.

You have now successfully replaced your tap washer.

 

Step 5.1 Prepare repair parts for spindle.png  Step 5.2 Remove spindle from brass body.png  Step 5.3 Replace felt O ring.png  Step 5.4 Change O rings.png  Step 5.5 Apply lubricant on new O rings.png  Step 5.6 Insert new tap valve at bottom of spindle and line up with tap base.png  Step 5.7 Screw spindle back on.png  Step 5.8. Tap washer replaced.png

Materials

Tools

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Vandal proof spanner
  • Allen key
  • Multigrip pliers
  • Craft knife
  • Flat head screwdriver
  • WD-40.

Images

Step 1.1 Turn off mains water tap.png  Step 1.2 Drain tap.png  Step 2.1 Locate grub screw in lever and pin type tap handle.png  Step 2.2. Lever handle removed.png  Step 2.3 T-Handle grub removed.png  Step 2.4 Position tool to line up with slots.png  Step 2.5 Position adjustable wrench on locking nut.png  Step 2.6 Plastic cover lifted.png  Step 2.7 Remove nut plastic handle.png  Step 3.1 Spray with WD-40.png  Step 3.2 Cut silicone.png  Step 3.3 Remove spindle cover.png  Step 4.1 Position adjustable wrench.png  Step 4.2 Remove spindle by hand.png  Step 4.3 Tap valve left inside tap body.png  Step 4.4 Use pliers to remove old tap valve.png  Step 5.1 Prepare repair parts for spindle.png  Step 5.2 Remove spindle from brass body.png  Step 5.3 Replace felt O ring.png  Step 5.4 Change O rings.png  Step 5.5 Apply lubricant on new O rings.png  Step 5.6 Insert new tap valve at bottom of spindle and line up with tap base.png  Step 5.7 Screw spindle back on.png  Step 5.8. Tap washer replaced.png

 

8 Replies
Akanksha
Projects Editor
Projects Editor

Thanks Eric.

 

Those looking for more information on repairing different parts of their home can find similar guides underneath the topic labelled Repairing in our How To section. These include step-by-step guides like How to fix a leaking toilet and How to unclog a blocked shower drain.

 

Don't hesitate to reach out if you need any help with repairing your home. We'd be happy to assist.

 

Akanksha

 

 

wooshka
Making a Splash

@EricL , if you could show how to replace the washers with 1/4 turn taps, that would help with arthritic people as well

MitchellMc
Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Hi @wooshka,

 

All you need to do is change out the spindle, and that's covered in this guide. Remove the spindle as shown here up until step four, and then install a 1/4 turn variety. The 1/4 turn spindle is almost identical to one that uses a valve washer and installs the same way. Typically it's best to purchase a set including the handles like this Shaw & Mason Chrome 1/4 Turn Lever Basin Top Assembly.

 

Please let us know if you have any questions.

 

Mitchell

 

Noyade
Kind of a Big Deal

Well done Eric! 😁 @EricL 

 

Statistically for the Bunnings Workshop - would this be the most asked question on this forum? To me it is.  🤔

 

MitchellMc
Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

It would be getting up there @Noyade

 

Mitchell

 

Ezzy
Building a Reputation

This is a good article showing different types of taps & how to remove the handles etc.

 

From time to time l have pulled these apart & found the spindle covered in soap. The recommendation l received & do myself is to drop the assembly into hydrochloric acid until the bubbling stops, remove & wash in cold water, replace the 'o' rings, lubricate with the appropriate lube (show in your article) & reassemble after running a thread cleaner through the body.

 

Passing down a plumbing aisle in a local Bunnings store some years ago a couple with this problem were consulting a staff member. He seemed perplexed about this so l stopped & suggested this action. Where do we get the acid? Bunnings of course. Cheaper than buying a new part if you are aware of this.

Caron
Making a Splash

Thank you for sharing this - a couple of months ago a plumber changed my taps - just reently they make a screeching sound when turning on/off.  We are not rough with them - will try changing myself this weekend trying your guide.

EricL
Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Hello @Caron 

 

I'm glad you found the guide useful. If you run into any tricky bits, please don't hesitate to post a question. I'll be more than happy to provide more information.

 

Eric

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