change a tap cartridge

Learn 3 Simple Ways How to Fix a Dripping Tap

Learn how to fix a dripping tap in three different ways from an everyday plumber.

In all three ways to fix a dripping tap, you will have to remove the brass tap cartridge from inside the tap.

How to Remove the Tap Cartridge

To remove the tap cartridge, you need to remove the handle on the tap by removing the screw in the centre of the tap cartridge.

how to fix a dripping tap
Screw cap on full turn tap.

This screw is normally covered by a cap that is screwed or clipped on.

Once you have the cover off, you will need to remove the cross head screw in the centre of the tap cartridge.

If it’s a lever tap, then you will need a small Allen key to loosen the grub screw, normally 2.5 mm.

These can be hard to find and remove, but stick at it, as the handle has to come off.

On some taps, you have to unscrew parts of the handle to remove it, not an actual screw.

It might be one unscrewing part, or it might be multiple unscrewing parts, but that handle has to come off!

How to Fix a Dripping Tap Essentials

tap handle removed
Full turn tap handle removed.

Removing the handle can be very difficult sometimes.

It should come off given enough upward force after removing the screw.

Just try not to damage the rest of the tap with tools.

fix dripping tap
Adjustable spanner on the tap cartridge.

After removing the handle from the tap, you will need to unscrew the cover.

Then you should be able to get your adjustable spanner on the cartridge.

Turn it anti-clockwise.

This should remove the cartridge from the tap.

changing a mixer tap cartridge
Tap cartridge removed with black washer on.

If you can’t get the adjustable spanner on to the cartridge, then you will need to find the correct size deep socket and use a ratchet to remove it.

1. You Can Change the Tap Washer

Knowing how to change a tap washer might help fix your dripping tap.

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

rubber tap washer
Rubber tap washers.

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

Different taps have different washers, but sometimes you can’t find the right size.

You might be better off changing the tap cartridges, as they come with brand-new tap washers fitted.

If you have the correct size washer, then you will need to remove the tap cartridge to fit the washer.

Once this is removed, you should see the old black washer on the bottom of the brass cartridge.

Remove this old washer by pulling it off the cartridge or out of the tap, then fit the new washer straight on, it should be a tight fit.

Then, screw the cartridge back in to the tap and tighten it up with your spanner and refit handle.

2. You Should Change the Tap Cartridges

Changing the tap cartridge, or a pair of cartridges,  is almost always the best option.

You can buy a pair of full turn, quarter turn, or half turn tap cartridges for around £5 at Screwfix and other places.

And a similar price for a single lever ceramic tap cartridge.

The standard sized tap cartridges will fit most taps out there.

But, you may have to source the exact ones from online, or direct from the manufacturer.

It’s much less hassle to replace the tap cartridges than to change the tap washers, and can also be less costly in the long run.

3. It’s Possible to Clean the Cartridges

Cleaning the tap cartridges is definitely the most difficult way to learn how to fix a dripping tap.

But, sometimes, it is your only option if you don’t want to fit a new tap.

Tap cartridges stripped
Quarter turn tap cartridges can be fully stripped down to clean and replace parts.

To clean the tap cartridges, you will need to remove them and strip them down.

Quarter turn tap cartridges use ceramic discs to stop the water instead of rubber washers.

These ceramic discs can get covered in dirt and limescale.

You need to remove the ceramic discs and clean them the best you can.

Once you have these ceramic tap cartridges separated, you should scrub them clean and refit them and check for drips.

I always squirt a small amount of silicone spray lubricant against the cleaned ceramic discs.

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