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How to fix a dripping tap

Stop a leaking mains tap problem yourself without finding a plumber.

Tuesday 4th September 2018

Leaking bathroom taps aren’t just annoying, they also waste water and result in higher bills with your money literally going down the drain. Fortunately, fixing them can be a straightforward DIY job – equip yourself with the right tools and get ready to learn a valuable new life skill.

What type of tap are you repairing?

A dripping tap is usually a sign that internal parts need replacing, so the first task is working out what type the tap is and buying the new parts. Older, traditional taps are usually made with rubber washers, which begin to leak when they perish. These are relatively cheap and available from most DIY stores in a pack of different sizes. use ceramic discs or cartridges in place of the washers. In this case, you’ll need to replace the complete ceramic valve or cartridge, and depending on the design of the tap, the valve/cartridge may need to be specially ordered. All taps sold by Mira Showers come with a 5-year guarantee and are supported by a full range of spare parts.

A good guide to what type of tap you have is to turn the lever or handle. If it only rotates a quarter turn or a half, it’s probably made with ceramic disc or cartridge. If it turns more, it’s likely to rely on rubber washers.

What you might need

  • A crosshead screwdriver
  • Allen key (depending on tap design)
  • Adjustable spanner
  • Ceramic valve or replacement cartridge

Follow our step-by-step guide for changing Ceramic valve or cartridge:

  1. Locate your stop tap or isolation valve and turn off the water supply. Turn the tap on to drain out any water left in it and the pipe. Put the plug in the basin – this makes sure any small parts won’t be lost down the plughole.               
  2. Remove the tap handle – you may need to pop off the decorative top of the tap (or the hot/cold symbol) using the screwdriver to expose a screw that fixes the handle to the body of the tap. There may also be another cover/shroud to take off or a part that requires an Allen key in order to remove it. This should reveal the ceramic disc valve or cartridge. As you take parts off, keep them in the same order – this will help when reassembling your tap.


3. Use your spanner to loosen the valve or headnut until you can remove it. Once it’s out, give the thread inside the tap a clean as this is where dirt can gather. (Check the new valve or cartridge you are fitting is the correct one for the hot or cold, if it’s a monobloc tap make sure the new cartridge matches the one removed.) Replace the new valve or cartridge, then reassemble your tap.

4. Turn on the water supply and check for leaks around the area where parts were replaced (including under the basin) as you may have disturbed the pipework. All areas need to be completely watertight. Check that the tap works properly and ensure there is a good flow of hot and cold water.


Maintain your basin tap

Ceramic valves and cartridges need little maintenance but it’s always worth carrying out an annual check to make sure the cartridges don’t seize in the body of the tap (they can be lightly greased with silicone grease). In hard water areas it’s also worth regularly cleaning the outlet flow aerator or straightener as these can get clogged, delivering a poor flow.


If it’s time for a new basin tap and you’d like some inspiration, check out the full range on offer at Mira.


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