How to change a bath tap washer

Updated February 21, 2017

A leaky tap can waste hundreds of gallons of water in just a short time. A fast-dripping leaky tap wastes 20 to 30 gallons of water per day, and a slow-dripping leaky tap wastes 5 to 10 gallons of water per day. That can add up to over 7,000 gallons of wasted water every year. Many times all that's needed is an inexpensive new bath tap washer. It's easy to change the washer on any tap using simple hand tools.

Turn off the water supply. Look for a valve under the sink. If there is no tap there, turn off the main water supply to the building, usually located in the basement.

Plug the drain so none of the pieces fall down it.

Remove the top cap. This is the decorative cover on top of the faucet. Use a flathead screwdriver to pry it off, then undo the screw underneath.

Lift off the headgear with your fingers. The headgear is the part you turn to turn the water on or off. Do not use tools to remove it, as they will damage it.

Remove the packing nut stem. Use the crescent wrench to loosen it and then finish unscrewing it with your fingers. Once loosened, remove with your fingers.

Remove the washer. At the bottom of the packing nut stem you'll find the washer. You may need to remove the nut that secures it; unscrew with your fingers or remove it with the needle-nose pliers. Work the washer free with a flathead screwdriver or the needle-nose pliers and remove.

Purchase a washer the same size as the one you removed. Slide it onto the nut stem and replace the nut.

Clean the seat. Use the steel wool to clean inside of the faucet in the spot where the packing nut stem was. This will remove any lime scale or dirt in there.

Reassemble. Put the packing nut stem back on, then the headgear, then the top cap.

Turn the water back on and check for drips.

Things You'll Need

  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Crescent wrench
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Replacement washer
  • Medium-grade steel wool
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About the Author

Sharon Sweeny has a college degree in general studies and worked as an administrative and legal assistant for 20 years before becoming a professional writer in 2008. She specializes in writing about home improvement, self-sufficient lifestyles and gardening.