If you’ve found your tap is leaking and you’re unsure why – it could be because your washer needs replacing. This is a task that anyone can do with some ease – so our plumber in Collingwood thought they’d detail a step-by-step guide on how to change a washer – as well as why you’d need to.


What is a tap washer and why should you change it?

A tap washer is a piece of hardware that is used to ensure a tight seal when the tap is turned off. There is the normal tap washer (pictured above), the fibre washer (a wide disc typically coloured red) and the o ring(s) (small rubber rings) which all work to ensure a tight seal and circumvent water leakage.

When a tap is turned on – the washer is what allows the water to flow through. If your tap starts to leak – then it’s a pretty good chance that the washers in either your hot or cold taps need replacing. Even the best quality washers will wear over time – so if you do find your tap is leaking, don’t worry. All you have to do is purchase the correctly sized washers and follow the steps below and you’ll have your washers changed in no time.


1.     Turn off the main water

The absolute first thing you’re going to want to do is to turn off the water for your house. Be sure that the washing machine or dishwasher aren’t being used or that no one is having a shower whilst you do it. After the main water has been shut off – turn on the tap(s) you’re going to be working on all the way to drain all the remaining water that’s still in the pipes to avoid getting wetter than necessary.


2.     Disassemble the tap

Rather than determining whether or not your hot or cold tap is the culprit – it’s usually worth opening both up one at a time. Every tap will be different, but your typical taps will have little caps on the top that can be screwed off by hand – allowing you to take off the handle itself and unscrew the bonnet/skirt (the dome-ish component that sits against the base of the tap). The spindle is the next piece that needs to be removed and you’ll need the help of a spanner to remove this piece.


3.     Replacing the o rings

After you’ve taken the spindle out, you can remove the first type of washer – the fibre washer. This can just be lifted off the spindle. Then, you can unscrew the spindle further to reveal the Teflon tape (which should be removed) and o ring(s) which prevent water from spilling all over your sink from the tap base. Some spindles have one o ring and others could have two and can be removed using a pair of pliers. Apply some grease where the o ring(s) go to improve the seal, reapply the Teflon tape and screw the spindle back to conceal the o rings.


4.     Replacing the washer

The washer is found at the end of the spindle. If your tap is installed against a basin vertically – then the washer will be in the placement/hole you remove the spindle from. If the tap is installed against a wall – then it may come out with the washer. Simply swap out the old with the new. Then, apply some more Teflon tape to the other threaded fittings of the spindle to seal it properly and put the new fibre washer over where the old one was.


5.     Reassembly

Follow the disassembly steps in reverse order and put the tap back together. Our Collingwood-based plumbers recommend repeating this process on the other tap before completely reassembling the first one. After you’ve secured the spindle – you can move on to the other tap. Once you’ve finished with the other one – secure the spindle, turn the main water on and test both taps. Once you’re satisfied, you can put the other pieces of the taps back on and finish reassembling them. That way, if they don’t function as they should – you can easily explore what went wrong without having to unscrew all the hardware again.


Are you looking for a plumber in Collingwood?

JPG Plumbing employs quality plumbers in Collingwood and the rest of Melbourne’s South Eastern suburbs. Highly trained, fully qualified and extremely professional, our plumbers can administer several services – including changing a washer if you’re unable to tackle the task yourself.

So, if you’d like to enquire about our services, please don’t hesitate to give us a call on 0400 978 442 or fill out the contact form on our website.