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How to easily stop a mixer tap from leaking

Mixer tap

Mixer tap

Mixer taps generally, eventually, share the same problem. They leak from the base of the mixer spout. This has happened to us twice. The first time we foolishly replaced the tap – cost of tap + plumber’s time. The second time I didn’t want to cross the palm of the plumber with cash so I investigated if I could solve the problem myself.

I felt a real fool when I discovered that often the leak is caused by worn O rings. The latter are small flexible rubber rings – available from most DIY stores and inexpensive.

We rushed down to Homebase in The Duchess and while D parked I selected the ‘correct’ sized O rings and a mixed pack of different sizes – just in case. It was lucky that D was still doing a 3 point turn as he’d have given the extra purchase the thumbs down. I like to have replacement parts to hand, just in case.

When replacing the O rings there is no need to turn off the water supply. The spout of the mixer tap might be held in place by a grub screw (a tiny screw that you need a short screwdriver to remove). I discovered that our plumber hadn’t fitted this and in this case all that you need to do is turn the spout horizontal to the taps and tug.

Da dah. Easy. I rushed upstairs to The Rat Room and waived it at Danny.
“Just a few more minutes until ‘no leak liftoff’!”

I removed the O rings and carefully replaced them with rings of a similar size. The spout, dressed in new shiny black rings looked very smart but refused to ease back into the pipe. I pushed it down, balanced on a stool, using my own weight. It resisted and even when I gave it a swipe with a cold hammer it remained firmly revolutionary. It refused to ease into the welcoming pipe.

Danny had a go. Wrestling the recalcitrant spout into the top of the pipe. It won. D didn’t say anything to me but the subtext beneath the encouraging smile read.
“We’ll have to invite a plumber in to deal with this impossible mess.”

“Don’t worry. There must be an answer somewhere on the Internet plumbing forums.”

Eventually I found the answer. Just a tiny aside at the end of an expert reply. “….If you do need to replace them then get o’rings that are a smaller diameter and stretch over if you buy the exact diameter you will not get the spout back in.”

I selected smaller O rings and fitted them to the now loathsome spout. Greased the end of the spout with Vaseline (petroleum jelly) and I pushed it firmly into the pipe. It fitted well and when I turned on the taps there was no leak.

Thank you Technotim. Danny, and I are delighted. Our tap has another lease of life for just the price of a couple of O rings.


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17 Comments

  1. Steve-B

    Thanks for the hints.
    Our problem was a loose spout and tripping taps.
    Our spout had no grub screw but needed to be turned to the hot side to remove. Ii addition to the 2 O-rings it had a split ring. I replaced this first and wobble solved. New cartridges were easy to replace (if a bit pricier than the O-rings!

    All our tap spares came promptly from a company with the same name.

  2. This article was a huge help and I just wanted to leave a thanks!

  3. I was fortunate to find that the grub screw had a socket head to accommodate an Allen Key, much more accessible than needing to fiddle about with a stumpy screwdriver between the wall and spout.

  4. Just to add there is no screw on it

    • You should be able to release the tap from the sink from underneath. There will be a bolt on a threaded screw pressing up against a bracket. Un-do the bolt from the thread and it will release the tap. The O-ring will be underneath the tap, between the top of the sink and the tap.

  5. I have a tap just like the one shown above. Just need to know how to remove that spout to change the o ring. Can anyone help please?

  6. The screwdriver for the grub screw does not HAVE to be short, it can be any length that fits behind the tap.

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