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How To Repair A Mixer Lever Tap

Tips for repairing mixer lever taps

A dripping or leaking tap usually means that the washer or O-ring in a traditional style of tap has worn out or broken. If you have mixer taps, then the ceramic cartridge most likely needs replacing. No matter which one you have, most of the time you can fix the issue yourself.

Before you do anything, make sure you turn off the water supply to the taps at the mains and turn the tap fully on to remove any excess water. It's also a good idea to put the plugin as well to stop any small parts from falling down the drain, which would be annoying.

Note: If you're in a rental property, check your tenancy agreement before you do anything as there is usually a contact of the best person to call in this situation rather than doing it yourself. However, if you own the property, read on to find out how best to manage the situation.

A traditional knob or lever tap

These were historically the most common type of tap in most households until the lever mixer tap became popular. If twin knob or lever taps are leaking or dripping, the washer or O-ring seal will most likely need replacing in one of the taps.

Start by unscrewing or levering off the decorative hot or cold cover to expose the retaining nut so you can remove the head of the tap. Then, undo the retaining nut with an adjustable spanner.

Stay in control and don't damage things further

Don't try and force it if the nut is tight or stiff. Instead, brace the tap body to prevent the tap from twisting and damaging the copper pipes attached to it. If the nut is still difficult to remove, apply some penetrating oil and let it soak in for a few minutes before trying again.

If you do end up damaging the pipes at all, it will cause a major leak which you will need to be repaired by a plumber before turning the water mains back on.

Remove the washer or O-ring with a screwdriver and replace it with a new one. Make sure you then grease the threads of the tap with silicone gel or Vaseline before reassembling. Then turn the water back on at the mains and test the tap. If it's still leaking, you'll need to call a plumber to fix the fault.

Mixer lever taps

With mixer lever taps, the water is turned on by lifting the lever, swinging it from one side to the other will gradually change the temperature by mixing the hot and cold water. When a mixer lever tap is dripping or leaking, the ceramic cartridge will most likely need to be cleaned or replaced.

Reviewing all the working parts

Start by prising off the hot/cold index disc located in the centre of the handle with a screwdriver, and then remove the retaining screw to remove the handle with an Allen key or small flathead screwdriver. Once the small screw is out, make sure you put it in a safe place.

Then you can unscrew the metal shroud on the headgear section using an adjustable spanner and lift it from the nut. Carefully remove the ceramic cartridge from its seat and check it for any signs of dirt or damage.

Dirty cartridges

If the cartridge is dirty, clean it up using a damp cloth or rag. If the seal inside the ceramic cartridge has perished, it will most likely be dripping at the base.

Worn or broken cartridges

If the cartridge is worn or broken, take the damaged cartridge with you to ensure you get the right size and type of replacement. Then put it all back together, turn on the mains, and test it. If it's still dripping at all, you'll have to call a plumber out to find and fix the fault.

Taking on some DIY repairs

If you're feeling pretty handy, with a little time, the correct tools, and the guide above, almost anyone should be able to repair this issue with both types of household taps. Otherwise, leaks caused by damaged valve seating or something of a more major nature will have to be repaired by a licensed plumber.

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Recommended reading

If you enjoyed this post and have time to spare, why not check out these related posts and dive deeper down the rabbit hole that is plumbing.

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