Taps and Valves
As a plumber you know how important taps and valves are to the plumbing system and it is important that all parts work as well as possible. All parts need to be kept in a good working order to avoid water leaks and therefore possible water damages to your home. It is also important that you can turn off the water if you need to, for an example if you happen to have a leak. One of the most common reasons for a call out as a plumber is a water leak. The reason for this can differ but it is often due to a packing or gland failing or due to a worn washer.
Glands and Packings
A packing or gland failing is basically when there is a leak from the top of the tap whenever it is open. A good thing is that a packing can easily be changed without having to turn off the water but you will have to remove both the tap head and the ‘easyclean’ cover in order to do so. If you come across an older style of cross heads and have trouble getting it off, even after removing the grub screw – try tapping it gently with a hammer. If this still does not work, open the tap completely and unscrew the easyclean cover and place two small pieces of wood underneath it, before tightening the tap with the head down. Sometimes the ‘easyclean’ cover is easy to remove and sometimes it is trickier. The thing to remember though is to always protect it with a small piece of cloth if you are forced to use any tools to shift it. Sometimes it helps to pour boiling water on it in order to shift it. You can replace traditional packing with wool covered in petroleum jelly. If you come across the more modern non rising spindle taps, you can easily change the rubber O-ring seals when needed. If a mixer tap is leaking at the base of the swivel nozzle, you can be sure that the O-ring or the washer needs replacing.
A warn washer means that there is a leak from the actual spout rather than the tap and this happens when the tap is closed. How you go about changing the washer depends on what type of tap is in use. I would always advice you to keep a few spare tap washers to hand and make sure they are replaced regularly. If the washer and jumper cannot be separated you will have to replace both. You will generally have to turn off the water if you are replacing tap washers – unless it is a ‘Supatap’. As with many other things, tap washer comes in different designs and sizes. If the washer is of a brand name, the smooth side needs to come into contact with the seating. If the actual tap has gone or if the valve seat has gone, it can be re-cut or you can insert a replacement seat of nylon. This cannot be fitted to ‘Supataps’ though.