You will need:A slot or cross-head screwdriverAn adjustable spannerAssorted washers or replacement cartridge
There are essentially two types of tap: traditional taps and monobloc lever taps that control flow and temperature with a single handle. Traditional taps drip because an internal rubber seal, or washer, has perished and needs replacing. Monobloc level taps have ceramic cartridges that occasionally need to be replaced. The more expensive the tap, the more extortionate and elusive the replacement cartridge.
1. Before you attempt to fix the leak, either turn the water off at the stop cock (if you don't know where yours is then it's important to find out) or turn off the isolation valve. This is normally found on the supply pipes below the sink. Now turn on the tap again to release any water left in the top of the pipe.
2. The first challenge is finding the screw inside the handle that holds the tap together. It is generally hiding under the decorative cap on top of the tap handle. Sometimes you can unscrew the cap by hand, or you may need the help of a slot-headed screwdriver or adjustable spanner. If you are fixing a “monobloc” lever tap, the secret entrance is often a tiny grub screw underneath the hot or cold indicator button.
3. Now put the plug in the sink. Remove the screw. If it falls in the sink, don’t worry, because that's why you have put the plug in. Remove the tap head (the bit you turn to make the water come out) and any metal cover around the neck of the tap (sometimes known as a shroud) to reveal a brass spindle or valve.
4. Use an adjustable spanner to hold the central hexagonal nut to unscrew the spindle while bracing the tap spout with your other hand. This will prevent the tap twisting and bending the pipes beneath. The top washer is an O-ring and the bottom one is shaped like a polo. Either take the spindle to a plumbers merchant and ask for the appropriate washer or select from a bag of assorted washers from a hardware store. They cost very little so it's worth replacing them both.
After training as a furniture designer and a career as a model maker and high-end designer, Alison Winfield-Chislett started teaching practical skills including DIY to friends, and founded the Goodlife Centre – an independent practical learning space in Waterloo, London – to provide a way for busy, office-bound people to attend evening and weekend beginner workshops in basic DIY, woodwork, upholstery and traditional crafts.
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