I have changed the washer on two old - very old - taps in my house, (I think
the taps are about 40 years old), and they are still leaking after having
replaced the 1/2 inch washers.
To be frank, I am not certain is the half inch washer is the right size as
each tap looks as if it could do with a slightly bigger washer - anyone know
if older taps used to have 'bigger' size washers and, if so, where can I lay
my hands on replacements today?
Anyhow, after replacing the washers the taps are still dripping and so my
options appear to be:
1) Buy a hand grinder and grind down the seat. I have never done this
before, have no idea how difficult it is and whether it works or not?
2) Replace the taps altogether. I have never done this before and I have put
off doing it as the copper pipes leading to the taps look old, are in a
difficult place, etc, etc, but it is something I have been thinking about
doing/learning so... If I go down this route what things should I be wary of
and what new whizz bang products are available in terms of fittings there
days - i.e. should I consider those flexible pipes that fit on taps,
push-fit fittings, etc?
Any thoughts, advice on the above would be of use,
I guess it depends how long you are going to live with the taps.
We had two taps like this in the bathroom, and grinding wasn't too
successful (they are old too). I bought a set of those cheap 'tap
refurbishment' bits from a shed for about 8 quid. Screws in the top and
provides a new seat and stop. Works OK, at least for the few months
before we rip out the bathroom.
I want to move next year or, if I do not move, I want to refurbish the
kitchen the taps are in. I would rather not do anything major now and I
believe I have imperial copper piper so it gets messy then doesn't it -
imperial to metric convertors and all that. I wondered if I could get away
with some of that pushfit type tap connectors and use them?
A lot of hardware shops sell a range of washer sizes. Take the innards of
one of your taps with you, to get some washers which fit.
If this still doesn't stop the drips, re-cutting the seats is the next step.
This can only be done a certain number of times - and may or may not be
possible, depending on whether they've been done previously. Cut as little
off as possible - consistent with getting a flat, unpitted, surface on the
If that doesn't work either, it's new taps. If you get taps which are
broadly similar to the existing ones, you'll probably find that the existing
pipes fit straight onto the new taps without requiring any modifications.
However, getting 40-year taps off without breaking the basins or whatever to
which they're attached may present a bit of a challenge!
If you *do* need to modify the pipework, you could use flexible braided tap
connectors (Screwfix D18417 or similar) to connect to the tap itself - and
shorten the original pipe to suit the braided hose. *Don't* use pushfit
fittings - because they are designed for metric pipe sizes and your pipes
are almost certainly imperial. In addition, you probably won't be able to
clean up to old pipes (traces of paint etc.) sufficiently for pushfit to
seal properly. The hose I suggested has a compression fitting at the remote
end from the tap. The 15mm variety will fit old 1/2" pipe ok. If any of the
taps are 3/4" and use 3/4" pipe, you will need 3/4"/22mm flexibles (designed
for joining a 3/4" tap to a 22mm pipe) - for which you'll have to buy
special olives to fit to 3/4" pipe rather than 22mm. The hose I suggested
also has a built-in 1/4 turn service valve - which makes it easy to isolate
the tap for subsequent washer changers without having to turn the whole
water system off.
Thanks - just double checked now and it looks like a 1/2 inch diameter
copper pipe going to, and soldered to, a piece of copper pipe, about 2
inches long, which is slightly wider, so I assume that is 15mm diameter
pipe, which has a bolt on the end and which is attached directly to the
taps. I assume the short piece of pipe with the bolt on the end is a type of
tap connector? It is impossible to see the tap connectors behind the bowl of
I think a tap change would involve cutting the pipes just below the bowl
where it is visible to me, using a tap connector to connect a flexible tap
hose to the current piping and the flexible tap hose to the new taps....
after turning the water off of course.
I will give it a try tomorrow morning to unscrew the connectors on the taps
to the pipes to see if I can lift the sink off and replace the taps that
way - i.e. removing the taps and taking them to a shop so I can get as
identical a replacement tap as is possible.
I'm pretty sure that what you've got is the 1960's equivalent of a soldered
tap connector - see
(Watch the wrap. If the link doesn't work, go to www.screwfix.com and look
for part 15894) [The one shown here is bent, but the straight ones are
Thae change in diameter is where the pipe goes into the fitting. The fitting
obviously has to be bigger than the pipe so that the pipe can go inside.
With respect to pipe sizes, it's worth pointing out that, with a 1/2"
imperial pipe, the 1/2" refers to the nominal *inside* diameter - whereas
metric pipe is sized on the *outside*. There is actually *very* little
difference between the outside diameter of a 1/2" and 15mm pipe. There is
slightly more difference between 3/4" and 22mm - but even that isn't very
On Mon, 30 Aug 2004 20:41:46 GMT, "John Smith"
I doubt it. If you unscrew the nut on the end of the copper pipe from
the tap then unscrew the nut holding the tap to the basin the tap will
lift out. A new set should drop straight in, and in a Haynes style -
refitting is the reverse of removal!
The tap connectors will be 1/2" BSP, as will the new ones. The
fittings with threads on stayed the same size when metrication came
along, it's only pipe that changed, and therefore soldered fittings,
for some reason.
Thanks Lurch, so if I am reading you right you are of the thought that if I
can get the nuts undone I should be able to pop along to Homebase, B&Q,
whoever, buy a standard set of UK taps and simply screw them back in?
"if I can get the nuts undone" is what happened to me
about a month ago, on the kitchen taps. I couldn't get
enough purchase on one of the fixing nuts, and a half
hour job turned into a hacksaw-blade exercise. And
you need arms like a gorilla to hold the tap steady
whilst trying to undo the nut with a less than
satisfactory spanner access.
Before you commit yourself, take the tap apart again
and have a closer look at it. That little piston
that holds the washer... is it bright and shiny, with
no traces of crud under the washer? Any crud there
and water seeps through the centre hole in the washer
and results in a small leak. Clean that piston
thoroughly before re-assembly.
When that's ok then look down the tap at the end of the
pipe that the washer bears down on. Is the top of the
pipe nicely smooth and rounded, with no crud on it?
Look for a crack or little chunk out of the bearing surface.
If it looks reasonably ok you might get away with just a
light skim with a facing tool.
I once had a permanent mystery leak in a tap that was fixed by a friendly
plumber who ground down the
bit that the washer pushes against. As you say, these get chipped or
cracked or encruddified.
I had looked by eye but had not been able to see what was wrong. He had a
for doing the grinding which y9ou may be able to hire out (hand tool/manual
I bought a tap re-seater - asked for a tap grinder in my local DIY shop and
got a few odd looks from the various plumbers in there who were asking for
Star Trek style bits and pieces - and grinded the cold water tap and, touch
wood, it seems to have worked. I then played around with the hot water one,
which was not dripping as bad as the cold water one was, and it is not that
much better. I am going to rest on my laurels this evening and have another
go grinding the hot water one tomorrow morning.
The grinder is easy to use but doesn't fit my tap hole - it has a number of
head attachments but all are much smaller than my tap 'head' but the 16mm
attachment seems about the right size for the bit/seat that the washer sits
Yes, but now I see you are worried about getting the nuts undone, but
if you can't you won't be gaining anything by having to take bits of
pipe out etc... as the nuts have to come off before you can get the
taps out IYSWIM. Perseverance is all you need, and possibly a basin
wrench and a good pair of grips!
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