Replacing a Tap Washer

Tap washers occasionally wear out and require replacing, as failure to do so can result in dripping, which creates a costly loss of water. Fortunately, the process for replacing a worn out washer is a simple and easy process that can be done at anytime, requiring no need for professional help.

This handy guide will walk you through the process of changing those old washers; so irritating and wasteful drips can be a thing of the past.

Step by Step Instructions


The first and most important step of the process is to shut off the main water supply to the pipes. Once that is done you are ready to proceed with the following steps:


  1. Remove the tap cover. On many models this will be a handle, attached by a few screws, or a cap over the handle that will require a flat lever to pull off. Often under the cap styles there will be a screw underneath that will require removing. Once the tap cover is loosened the cover should easily slide off of the tap.
  2. Next, the cartridge in the middle of the tap needs to be undone. Do this by grabbing hold of the flat surface on either side of the cartridge using an adjustable or ring spanner. Lift out once loose.
  3. Attached to the bottom of the cartridge is the washer. Pull the worn washer off gently to prevent it from breaking into pieces. On very worn washers it may be necessary to use pliers for removal.
  4. Remove any residue or debris from the cartridge using steel wool before inserting the new washer.
  5. Put the cartridge back into place and tighten into place using a spanner. FInger-tight is recommended.
  6. Replace the tap cover.
  7. As a last step ensure the tap is in the off position before turning the main water back on.


How To Select The Right Washer

There are different washers for both hot and cold taps so it is critical to get the appropriate washer for the tap you are working on. As a general rule of thumb, blue 15mm and 20mm washers will be suitable for hot and cold taps. Basin taps are generally 15mm, whereas bath taps usually require 20mm washers.

Red fibre washers are more suitable for hot water, as they are stronger and can withstand hotter temperatures. For taps with a damaged seat, it may be necessary to opt for a domed washer, as the seat can become grooved, especially if left leaking for a long time.