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How to change a mixer tap washer

How to Change a Tap Washer: A Plumber Guide

Last updated on February 22nd, 2024

Changing a tap washer can only be done on full-turn taps as quarter-turn and single-lever taps do not have rubber washers in them.

A tap washer replacement can fix a dripping tap but sometimes you’ll need to replace the tap cartridge.

I have been a full-time plumber for over a decade and have changed many taps and tap washers over the years.

In this post, I’ll show you how to change a tap washer based on my on-the-job plumbing experiences.

How to Change a Tap Washer

If you have a full-turn tap, where you have to turn the tap handle many times for the water to come out at full rate, then your tap has a rubber washer.

This washer can be changed, but you have to have the exact same size washer.

Different taps have different tap washer types and sizes, but sometimes you can’t find the right type. If you buy a tap washer kit, you’ll have washers for most taps.

mixer tap washer replacement
Tap cartridge with washer

Full-turn tap cartridges can be found on a monobloc mixer tap with two handles, or separate hot and cold taps.

This can include bath taps, basin taps and kitchen taps as long as they are not single-lever taps.

Tap Washer Replacement Steps

Here’s how to change a washer on a mixer tap with two handles:

  1. Turn off the water supply
  2. Open the tap to let the water out and leave it open
  3. Put the plug into the plug hole to stop screws from falling down there
  4. Remove the screw cover from the centre of the tap head (it should either screw of or pop off)
  5. Remove the screw in the centre of the head
  6. Pull off the head
  7. Unscrew the shroud around the tap cartridge (if you have one)
  8. Remove the tap cartridge using water pump pliers or an adjustable spanner
  9. Remove the old rubber washer (you have to remove a screw first)
  10. Fit the new washer
  11. Refit the tap cartridge and tighten it
  12. Refit the shroud and head
  13. Turn on the water and test the tap

Tap Washer Replacement Video

Tap washer replacement YouTube video

How to Change an Outside Tap Washer

Fixing an outside tap is often needed because of different problems, but changing a washer on an outside tap is easier than other taps.

Removing the body on an outside tap
Removing the body on an outside tap

How to replace the washer:

  1. Turn the water supply off to the outside tap
  2. Open the outside tap to release the water
  3. Use an adjustable spanner to turn the tap body anti-clockwise
  4. Remove the old washer and replace it with a new washer
  5. Refit the tap body and tighten it with an adjustable spanner
  6. Close the outside tap
  7. Turn the water supply back on
  8. Test the outside tap
Outside tap washer replacement
Replacing an outside tap washer

Tap Cartridge Replacement

A tap cartridge replacement is needed to fix ceramic disc taps with lever handles. You might also need to replace the full-turn tap cartridge instead of the washer.

Mixer tap cartridge replacement
Mixer tap cartridge replacement

How to replace:

  1. Turn off the water and open the tap to let the water out
  2. Remove the screw holding the handle onto the tap cartridge
  3. Remove the handle by pulling it off
  4. Unscrew the shroud around the tap cartridge
  5. Remove the tap cartridge with an adjustable spanner
  6. Fit the new tap cartridge and tighten it with an adjustable spanner
  7. Refit the shroud and handle
  8. Turn the water on and test the tap

How to Change Taps

When you can’t fix your dripping tap or broken tap by replacing the tap washer or cartridge, you might need to change the tap.

how to replace a kitchen tap

Here are some of my how-to guides for replacing taps in your home:


Changing a tap washer can only be done on full-turn taps, whether that’s a mixer tap, separate taps, bathroom taps or kitchen taps.

If it's the tap has lever handles, these have ceramic discs and you will need to replace the cartridge to fix the dripping tap.

Feel free to ask me any questions in the comment section below and I’ll try my best to help.

Please share this post if you find it helpful.


Can you change a tap washer without turning off the water?

No, you can not change a tap washer without turning off the water unless you want to flood the place. You have to remove the tap cartridge to change the washer so the water supply to the tap must be turned off.

You can isolate the water to the tap at an isolation valve under the sink, this means you will not have to turn the mains water stopcock off, but the water to the tap will need to be turned off.

Are tap washers a standard size?

No, tap washers are not a standard size. There are lots of different shapes and sizes of taps which means lots of different-sized tap washers. A tap washer kit has lots of different sizes and will cover all the sizes for most taps.

How do you know when a tap washer needs replacing?

A tap washer needs replacing when it starts dripping when the tap is fully closed and turned off.

Another sign that a tap washer needs replacing is when no water comes out of the tap when it is fully open. The washer can sometimes get stuffed into the tap or rushed from over-tightening it.


  • Steven Reid

    I am a full-time plumber and Gas Safe registered engineer. I incorporated Housewarm Ltd. in 2011 to provide heating and plumbing services to homes in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. I now blog about what I've learned over the years to help DIYers and plumbers.

    View all posts
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