How to Change a Washer on a Mixer Tap
One of the most common causes of a leaking tap is a damaged washer. Over time it wears down through daily use and suddenly you’re left with a dripping faucet. Normally the solution is relatively straightforward: the tap is pulled apart and the washer is replaced with a new one.
However, changing the washer on a mixer tap is somewhat more complex. In fact, most mixer taps do not even have a washer – they have a replaceable cartridge.
That means there are a few additional challenges when it comes to fixing a leaking mixer tap! But with the right knowledge and understanding, you will never put a step wrong again. Here’s what you should know about how to change a washer on a mixer tap.
What is A Mixer Tap?
While you may just call it a tap most of the time, mixer taps are a standard feature in most new homes and countless renovated houses.
Essentially, mixer taps have one faucet and typically one tap handle. Both the hot and cold water is controlled by one handle, and it comes out of the same spout. You may see a tap with two handles and one spout referred to as a mixer.
Meanwhile, there are various styles, including single lever, wall mounted, pull out or monobloc. You’ll regularly find mixers in the kitchen sink and bathroom, including the bathtub, shower and basin.
Instead of a traditional tap washer, inside there is a ceramic cartridge with two discs. The bottom disc is fixed and the upper one rotates when the handle is moved, allowing water to flow through.
Ceramic disc cartridges are far more durable than rubber washers, but they are still susceptible to cracks and leaks.
But if you’re contemplating some DIY plumbing to swap out those cartridges, before you grab a wrench, take some time to read our tips first.
First, Have the Right Tools
Before you begin any plumbing work, check that you have the right tools for the job. You want to make sure you have everything you need ahead of time.
For mixer tap washer or cartridge replacement, you’ll most likely need the following:
- Replacement cartridge
- Flathead screwdriver and/or Phillips head screwdriver
- Adjustable wrench/adjustable spanner
- Pipe wrench
- Allen key
Another important step before you tackle any DIY fix is to turn the water supply off. The last thing you want is a gushing stream getting in your way.
Basin and Sink Mixer Tap Washer Repairs
Once you turn off the water, it’s time to begin.
Depending on the type of tap you have, there are various ways to remove the handle.
For example, there may be a small plastic cap which conceals the grub screw. The grub screw may also be located at the bottom of the tap, without a cover. If there is a cap, pry it off gently with the tip of a stanley knife or screwdriver.
Once the grub screw is revealed, turn and remove it with an allen key. Alternatively, if there is a retaining screw, you will need a Phillips head screwdriver to unscrew it.
With the cover and screw removed, you’ll have clear access to the cartridge. Remove the cartridge from the body with a spanner, turning it in an anti-clockwise direction to loosen.
At this point, remove the chrome dress ring with a pipe wrench – or similar – and then a brass retaining nut with a spanner.
Now there is clear access to the cartridge! If you knew the exact model prior to any changeover, you may have a new one to put in its place. But if you don’t, take the old cartridge to the local hardware store to find the perfect replacement.
Finally, with the right part, place the cartridge back in the tap and correctly restore all the associated parts. Turn your water supply on again and you’re good to go with a good as new tap!
The Right Time to Call in a Plumber
When it comes to fixing a mixer tap, there will be some challenging circumstances. Shower mixers will likely have internal parts located behind tiles, meaning you need to take out shower tiles. Home DIY repairs could be arduous and costly if you’re not experienced.
It’s also a law in most places that a licensed plumber must install mixer taps. If you’re knowledgeable enough to tackle cartridge replacement, that’s fine, but it’s also okay to ask for help.
But any plumbing tasks that are beyond replacing cartridges should be left to the professionals. Before carrying out any other plumbing work, check with your state’s plumbing regulations. Unlicensed plumbing work is illegal and you will not be covered by insurance, which could be costly if your repairs go wrong.
In fact, some Australian states don’t even allow for unqualified repairs on mixer taps.
So if you are annoyed by the leak from your mixer tap, before you go to fix it, think about the overall outcome. Do you want to repair, or is the time right for an upgrade?
Perhaps the best result is calling a local plumber from Jim’s Plumbing for mixer tap installation! We know it all, from blocked drains to leaking tap repairs and hot water installation.