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Everything you need to know when replacing taps, faucets, leaking washers and ceramic taps etc.


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tap / faucet

TAP HINTS

Taps
come in many shapes and sizes, however, the main physical
characteristics are governed by their use, as BATH, BASIN, SHOWER,
KITCHEN, or MONOBLOC.

Ceramic
versions of the above, usually quarter turn, are vastly different
internally. See picture further down.

IF
YOU HAVE REPLACED TAPS FOR DECORATIVE REASONS, DON’T THROW THE
OLD ONES AWAY, THE TAP BODY CENTRES CAN BE USEFUL. THESE ARE OFTEN
COMMON IN SIZE. ONLY THE KNOB SPINDLE VARIES SLIGHTLY IN SPLINE
NUMBER AND SIZE.


Bath
taps
can be single, or mixer type that come as one piece. These
are always fed from under the bath by 22MM connectors.

The
shower
type just has an extra connection and valve on the top for the
flexible shower hose. If changing the hose, don’t forget to use
the NEW rubber washers that come with the new hose. A large bore
type of hose will often improve the flow to the shower head. If
the head is heavily scaled, use a proprietary descaler on it,
although you CAN use LIMELITE, it takes a while to act.

The
basin and kitchen taps are always fed by 15mm pipes, but the
MONOBLOC types use only a SINGLE HOLE, and are usually fed by 8mm
bore pipes, with M10 or M12 flexible connectors, to 15mm feeds.


LEAKS:
it is rare to get leaking/dripping taps these days, as the washer
materials have much improved over the years.

Very
old taps may have worn valve seats, and worn washers, and although you
can re-cut the seats a bit and put in a new washer, it usually is not
worth the bother.

On modern taps though,
what usually happens, is
that the “O” ring seals in the spiral mechanism fail due
to scale abrasion, letting water into the spiral. This causes the
taps to become difficult to turn on or off, increases wear in the
spiral, and may cause either leakage at the spindle at the top, or
the tap will not open at all.

A very badly worn tap body can also
give rise to horrible noises, and what is called “water
hammer”, if the spindle oscillates in and out of the valve seat.
You can get a “tap reviver” kit (tap body with matching knob).

When
changing a tap, always ensure that you renew the red fibre washer
that sits in the groove of the tap connector. The old one might
not be recognisable as a washer, so just ensure the groove is
clear and clean (use a sharp pointed object to clean it out), and
insert a new one. DO NOT TRY TO USE AN “O” RING INSTEAD OF A
FIBRE WASHER. IT RARELY WORKS, AND WILL USUALLY LEAK.

When you are
next passing a plumbers’ merchant, buy a few fibre washers for tap
connectors (half and three-quarter inch), you never know when you
will need one and they are not very costly.

ALSO:
ensure that a NYLON washer goes between the tap and the
basin/bath, and a RUBBER washer goes between the plastic nut, and
the underside of the basin/bath*
This will allow you to tighten
the tap properly, and stop any tendency to turn, as it might do
when using flexible connectors. You should never rely on the feed
pipe joint for this anyway.

If
you have had to turn the water off at the tank, or main supply,
consider fitting service valves each time you replace taps. This
will pay dividends next time. These are quite cheap. I would not
recommend GATE VALVES for this, as I have had the hot side scale
up and seize over time.      

The
picture on the right, is a ceramic tap body, from the
inside of a bath mixer. They tend to be larger than the
standard tap body, this one would require a 22mm spanner
to remove.

Although there is just one moving part, the
upper ceramic disc with two triangular slots in, they can
still wear over time, and drip. This is usually caused by
a combination of scale and grit eroding the discs
slightly, plus weakening of the spring that presses them
together.

Replacing the body is the only cure, you cannot
get them apart unless you have a special tool, even if you
could get the discs.

worn ceramic tap body

If you have found the
above useful you will probably find the other tips and guides featured
on Lexfixit.co.uk site, including several on
Central
Heating
, invaluable, either now or at some time in the future.


*  
As
with most things, there are different viewpoints on any given subject and I
have been contacted by Mr. Bob Lawson who
advises –

It’s a small point, but you
state specifically that the rubber washer fits under the nut, the plastic
one between tap and basin.  They go the other way round, the rubber one
forming the deck/tap seal, the plastic (polywasher) preventing metal to
china contact. A rubber one would ruck up when the nut’s turned. It’s often
worthwhile fitting a top hat washer under the bath deck.