The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

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.

  Leave a reply


  1. Jayne Crean

    If the o-rings are made of rubber, petroleum jelly will dissolve them in a week or so and the leak will return 🙁
    Clean everything meticulously and use soap ‘Fairy Liquid’ etc.) and water and then ease the washers over the tap base.

  2. William Smith

    Great article! Keep it up.

  3. Chris @ Hen Houses

    Great news that you fixed your mixer. Just a quick tip – as a plumber, may I suggest that anyone wishing to lubricate O-rings should use silicone grease and not vaseline, as the petroleum within vaseline can damage the O-ring.

  4. Marion

    Ohhhh This is one I really like!

  5. Hattie

    Congratulations, especially on getting the packet of spares……I would have done the same & felt very smug about it when they were needed almost instantly ! It is so good being able to fix things yourself.
    Bravo Fiona.

  6. Jacqui

    It is SO satisfying to fix something yourself. Well done. 🙂

  7. Too right to not want to grease the plumber’s hand again – and good for you to figure out how to sort out the faucet with only the internet to help!

  8. Original Redhead

    I’m surprised you didn’t try goat hair as recommended by Madame Scarecrow. lol

  9. Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together. Good for you!

  10. Joanna

    Amazing what you can find on the internet these days. I have looked up all sorts of things from recipes to planting a field of buckwheat.

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