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Tap cartridge replacement

How to Change a Tap Cartridge: Single or Double Lever Mixers

Last updated on April 27th, 2024

A tap cartridge replacement is very common and is often needed to fix a dripping tap.

It’s a simple job to do most of the time, but sometimes it can be a nightmare trying to remove the cartridge.

I have been plumbing full-time for over a decade and I have replaced many taps and cartridges.

Tap Cartridge Types

There are three main types of tap cartridges:

  • Full-turn (brass)
  • Quarter-turn (brass)
  • Single lever (plastic)

Full-turn

Full-turn tap cartridges use a rubber washer on the bottom to control the water flow and usually have a crosshead handle or a knob to open and close the tap.

Full turn tap cartridges
Full turn cartridges

The handles are covered by a cap in the centre that needs to be unscrewed or pulled to remove.

You can only change a washer on a tap with full-turn cartridges. These type of cartridges are becoming less and less common as quarter-turn ceramic cartridges are a lot better.

Replacing full turn tap cartridge
Full-turn tap cartridge removed

Quarter-turn

Quarter-turn tap cartridges use ceramic discs to control the flow of water. These tap valves have a lever handle and are kept on with a small grub screw.

These screws are sometimes covered with a little cap and the grub screw typically needs a 2.5mm hex (Allen) key or a small screwdriver.

Quarter turn tap cartridges
Quarter turn cartridges

Single Lever Mixer

Single-lever mixer tap cartridges also use ceramic discs but are a lot different to quarter-turn tap valves.

Single lever mixer tap cartridge
Single lever mixer tap cartridge

Single lever mixer tap cartridges have two water pipe connections and they mix the water in a single cartridge instead of two separate cartridges like the quarter-turns.

The levers are kept on with a small grub screw and are used on kitchen taps and bathroom basin taps.

Single lever mixer tap
Single lever mixer tap

Replacing a Brass Cartridge

Replacing a cartridge on a dual lever mixer tap or two separate taps is pretty much the same. Whether they are full-turn or quarter-turn brass cartridges, the process for replacing them is the same.

Removing mixer tap cartridge
Removing a quarter-turn cartridge

How to replace a brass tap cartridge:

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

Replacing a Single Lever Mixer Cartridge

How to replace a single lever mixer tap cartridge:

  1. Turn off the water and open the tap to let the water out
  2. Remove the grub screw that is keeping the lever handle attached to the tap
  3. Remove the handle by pulling it off
  4. Remove the metal or plastic shroud by unscrewing it
  5. Remove the cartridge by lifting it out
  6. Fit the new cartridge
  7. Refit the shroud
  8. Refit the lever handle and grub screw
  9. Turn the water back on and test the tap
Mixer tap cartridge replacement YouTube video

Tap Handle Replacement

To replace a tap handle you need to remove the screw that is keeping the handle attached to the tap.

Tap handle replacement

This will be in the centre of the handle on a crosshead or knob-type handle and hidden under a cover that needs to come off.

On lever handles, there is a grub screw keeping the handle on which will be on the side and sometimes hidden under a small cap.

Once you have located the screw you need to remove it with a hex key or screwdriver and the handle will pull off and you can fit the new tap handle.

Changing Taps

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

Changing basin mixer tap

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

Summary

Replacing a tap cartridge is easy most of the time, but it can be hard to remove the old cartridge sometimes, especially on old taps.

Ceramic disc cartridges for dual lever taps are the most common cartridges. 

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.


FAQs


How do you remove a stuck tap cartridge?

To remove a stuck cartridge you need to use a very large pipe wrench (Stillsons) and a very large pair of water pump pliers.

This can be very difficult, but if you use very large tools, it will come out.

Why do tap cartridges fail?

Tap cartridges fail by leaking. They use ceramic discs to control the water flow and these can sometimes get full of limescale and dirt which can cause them to leak.

The teeth on the spline (which sits in the tap head or handle) can also wear down, stopping it from turning.

Are tap cartridges a standard size?

Tap cartridges are not all a standard size but a lot of them are. The best thing to do is remove the cartridge and take it to a plumbing merchant to try to match it with a replacement.

Author

  • 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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2 thoughts on “How to Change a Tap Cartridge: Single or Double Lever Mixers”

  1. Rex Wells

    Can you change a classic tap “washer” type insert to a new type of ceramic cartridge please?

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