New basin taps are a great way to upgrade your bathroom. Look out for versions with an eco click mechanism, as they'll help you and your family control how much water you use. If one of your taps is dripping, try to fix it promptly - otherwise it'll stain your bath or sink and cause erosion inside the mechanism of the tap.
How to replace your basin taps
If your existing taps don't have an isolating valve, you'll need to turn off the water supply (both hot and cold), and then turn on all the taps in your house until they run dry.
It can be very difficult to unscrew the nuts that connect your old taps to the water supply pipes. If that's the case, you can use a pipe cutter to cut through the pipes and then connect your new taps using flexible push-fit tap connectors. It's a good idea to get these connectors with isolating valves, just in case you ever need to cut off the supply to one or both taps for future maintenance.
One Planet Home - Eco click taps
Lots of new taps now come with a handy eco click mechanism that can help you and your family save water. When you first turn the tap on, it flows at a rate that's ideal for rinsing a toothbrush or facecloth. If you need a higher flow (to fill up a basin, for example), you just turn beyond the click.
Reach up and unscrew the holding nuts of the old taps. You'll need a basin wrench to undo the tap connector nuts that hold the taps to the pipes, and a cranked spanner to remove the back nuts securing the taps to the basin.
Lift out the old taps. If they won't budge even after you've taken off the holding nuts, they might be stuck in place with old putty. If this is the case, just tap them lightly from below with a wooden mallet to loosen them. Before you fit your new taps, make sure that the ceramic surround is clean.
Fasten your new taps from underneath with the washers and mounting nuts supplied with them. The hot tap goes on the left, and the cold on the right.
You can either re-attach the existing pipework or use 15mm flexible tap connectors (don't forget to include the fibre washers, though). Clean any paint or tarnish from the pipes using wire wool and check there's no debris in the new taps before you make the attachments. Finally, turn the water back on and check that the taps are working without any leaks.
How to fit an outdoor tap
You can buy a kit with all you need to fit an outdoor tap. Here's what you do to install it.
Firstly you need to attach the saddle clamp to a suitable, cleaned cold water supply pipe. Then screw the self-cutting tap into the saddle clamp.
Next, put the rubber washer in and connect the hose to the tap. Check for pipes and cables, then drill a hole through the wall at a slight downwards angle towards the outside. Use a hammer action drill with 16mm masonry bit to do this.
You can then run your hose through the hole. Mark out suitable fixing positions for the tap, then drill the holes and fix them to the wall using the wallplugs and screws provided. Finish the job off by pushing the supply hose onto the tap stem and tightening the hose clip with a screwdriver.
How to repair a dripping tap
It's never a good idea to ignore a dripping tap. The sooner you tackle it, the easier it'll be to fix - and the less damage will be done. Even if you don't have a spare washer, take a look inside the tap. If the washer is only slightly damaged on one face, you can reinsert it the other way up. But even if that stops the drip, remember to replace it with a new washer as soon as possible.
You can repair standard mixer taps in the way shown here, but monobloc taps (which are often controlled by levers, and need only a quarter-turn between being fully off and fully on) have ceramic disks rather than traditional washers. These disks are very hard-wearing, but if one develops a problem you'll need a replacement cartridge from the tap manufacturer.
Top tip - Choosing the right taps
When you buy new taps, check they're the right type for your system. If you fit high-pressure (mains) taps on a low-pressure, gravity-fed hot water system, it could cause poor water flow, especially in a bath.
Top tip - Valve seating damage
If your tap keeps on dripping even with a new washer, the valve seating has probably eroded. You can repair this with a special grinding tool or (much more easily) with a washer and seating set. The plastic seat fits into the existing metal one, and a washer-and-jumper unit fits on the headgear. The sooner you replace a washer, the less likely the valve seating is to get damaged.
Turn off your water supply and open the tap to drain water from the system. Put the plug into the plug-hole, just in case you drop any small nuts or screws. Then unscrew the top plate (this has the hot/cold emblem on it). You might be able to do this with your fingers - but if not, use pliers or an adjustable spanner.
Not all taps are made in the same way, so you'll need to work out how the handle comes off. In the type shown, you undo the retaining screw and pull the handle off. This reveals the headgear nut.
Unscrew the tap body cover. If you can't do this by hand, try using an adjustable spanner or pipe wrench - but remember to protect the chrome with a cloth.
Undo the headgear nut, using an adjustable spanner. If the nut is difficult to turn, don't force it or you'll risk twisting the base of the tap and putting a strain on the inlet pipe. Instead, pad around the base of the tap with cardboard and use a pipe wrench to grip it firmly as you apply the necessary force to the nut.
Remove the headgear assembly by unscrewing the headgear nut. The washer sits in the jumper, and is either pressed in place (often over a small button) or retained by a nut. If necessary, unscrew the nut that holds the washer in place with an adjustable spanner. Then prise out the old washer, using a screwdriver to dig it out if need be.
Insert a new washer and push it into the jumper, then reassemble the tap in the same sequence. It's a good idea to put a little silicone grease on the threads on the base of the headgear assembly before putting it back in the tap body.
Watch our step-by-step film below showing you how to fix a dripping tap, with expert advice and top tips to help you approach the job with confidence.