How to Mend Loose Bath Taps

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One of the more common maintenance problems in the bathroom are loose bath taps. A bath tap that will not close properly leaks water, adding unnecessary charges to your monthly water bill. Usually, this problem is caused by a malfunctioning rubber washer or O ring that won't create the proper seal to keep water from leaking. With the proper equipment, disassembling the bath taps to replace the washer or O ring is a project that will take only an hour or two to finish.

Things You'll Need

  • Loose bath taps
  • Wrench
  • Screwdriver
  • Rubber washer (if necessary)
  • Socket wrench
  • O-ring remover
  • O-ring (if necessary)
  • Turn off the water supply to your bath taps. Water supply lines to bath taps are usually installed in the walls and have limited access, so it may be easier to go to your water tank, usually located in your basement, and turn off the valves supplying water to the house. Turn the valve handle clockwise until tight. If the valve is a ball valve with a straight handle, it will only require one 90-degree turn to shut off the water supply.

  • Test the bath taps upstairs to see if water is still being supplied to the house. If so, go downstairs and readjust your work.

  • Put a stopper into your bathtub or otherwise cover the drain hole. The taps contain small pieces of hardware that can easily disappear down drain holes.

  • Unscrew the tap handle from your bathtub. For pillar taps, use a wrench to dismantle the tap's metal handle. Other tap styles use a retaining screw. Use a screwdriver to loosen this screw and remove the handle. This reveals the tap's headgear, which exists below the handles.

  • Use your wrench to loosen the headgear assembly from its position inside the bath taps. Once the headgear has been loosened, pull it out completely to inspect it more closely.

  • Inspect the rubber washer, located at the bottom of the headgear assembly, for wear and damage. If the washer looks chewed up or mangled in any way, it must be replaced. Pry the washer loose with a screwdriver. If the washer is held in place by a retaining nut, loosen that nut with a socket wrench. The size of socket wrench bit needed will vary based on your bath tap model. Contact your bath tap's manufacturer if you are unsure of the retaining nut size or what style of replacement washer to purchase. Secure the proper replacement washer into place by using your hands, the screwdriver or securing with the retaining nut, if your headgear assembly includes one.

  • Inspect any O rings found on your headgear assembly for wear and damage. O rings are generally used to create waterproof seals when your tap has been turned to the off position. Check to see if O rings are nicked or are sagging loosely around the headgear. If the O ring appears damaged, use an O-ring remover to remove it from the headgear. If you don't have an O-ring remover, pry it loose with your screwdriver. Contact your bath tap's manufacturer if you are unsure of the O-ring size to use for replacement. Secure the replacement O ring over the headgear assembly.

  • Place the headgear assembly into the tap and tighten it into place with your wrench. Replace the tap handle that was previously removed by tightening it into place with a wrench, or by tightening the retaining screw. Go back downstairs and turn on the water supply to your house by loosening the valve that you turned to the "off" position in Step 1.

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