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  • DIY incompetent question – Dripping tap
  • Premier Icon lunge
    Full Member

    I have a dripping mixer tap in the kitchen, pretty sure it has a cartridge inside it. It also has no levers to turn off the water under the sink. It’s the hot water lever that is dripping I think.
    So I think I need to replace to cartridge.
    Questions are:
    1. Do I turn the water off for the house and just run the taps to drain the system?
    2. I can get at the cartridge relatively easily, how do I work out what type I need to order from Screwfix?
    3. What else can I make a mess off?
    4. How likely is it that’ll flood the kitchen?

    Premier Icon frogstomp
    Full Member

    Check the pipework to the tap – it may have an inline valve that you can use to isolate it.

    Do you live in a hard water area? If so, it may be just limescale stopping the cartridge from closing completely Taking it out and using descaler on it may do the trick..

    Premier Icon smokey_jo
    Full Member

    It may not have levers but there may still be isolator valves. Instead of a lever there will be a screw head which you turn 90 degrees to shut off supply to tap.

    Premier Icon theotherjonv
    Full Member

    are you sure there are no isolator valves, mine are screw turn valves rather than levers.

    As for the replacement – you need to get the old one out first, and then measure it. Then find there’s a gazzillion different types available. Then go to a proper plumbers and ask for one the same.

    If this is the first time it’s leaked, you might be able to refresh it with a soak and clean in some acid, sometimes the cartridge gets a bit scaly and that’s creating a gap for it to drip through.

    I was also told, if you turn the tap on with your palm pressed against the bottom of the spout, and then turn the cold on, you can back flow due to the pressure diff and that can dislodge scale. But it will squirt everywhere so have a towel handy.

    Premier Icon poly
    Free Member

    1. Do I turn the water off for the house and just run the taps to drain the system?

    Yes. Personally I’d turn the HW heater/boiler off too – but probably not 100% essential.

    2. I can get at the cartridge relatively easily, how do I work out what type I need to order from Screwfix?

    In normal times I’d take it out and take to plumbers merchant for them to match.
    Presumably google will be able to help then click n collect

    3. What else can I make a mess off?

    Well – I’d add inline isolators to your taps whilst the water is off so its easier next time.

    4. How likely is it that’ll flood the kitchen?

    Moderate.

    Premier Icon sharkbait
    Free Member

    If you don’t have inline isolator valves but you do have a Megaflo tank (other unvented makes are available) you can switch the hot water supply off by stopping the cold flow into the tank – so either at the isolator valve at the tank or the tap on the rising main.

    Premier Icon jimfrandisco
    Free Member

    Don’t rule out stupidity on the part of the former owner.
    All the inline isolators to bathroom fittings – sink, toilet, bath etc were present…but he’d boxed them in and tiled over them!
    Until I pulled the bathroom apart for a refurb it meant that even sorting out a dripping tap meant turning the water off at the mains.

    Premier Icon BigJohn
    Full Member

    If you’ve got an old fashioned open header tank and hot water cylinder it’s possible that you’ll have to drain off all your hot water and empty the tank (meaning the muck at the bottom gets churned up). This takes ages to do, ages to refill and ages and £££s to heat the water up again.

    Unless you roll up a sleeve and stick a bung in the outlet of the tank. Old school plumbers always used to keep half a tennis ball to stick over the outlet to seal it off.

    If you’ve got a combi, just turn off the supply. Tip – after you open the downstairs tap, open an upstairs one too to stop scalding drips. But (and this is the hard bit) remember to close it again before turning the supply back on. Like – write a note on a post it and stick it on the valve – remember.

    Premier Icon WorldClassAccident
    Free Member

    I have the same. If you can isolate the individual water feeds to the tap you can turn them both off and then turn on just the cold to see if the drip starts again. If not, turn the cold off and the hot on and see if it drips.

    Lots of different cartridges so try and work out the exact model and take the cartridge with you anyway. Bristan do not supply plumbing shops so you have to contact them directly. They have not responded to my email in a week other than an automated email saying they are very busy.

    If you can get the cartridge out you can soak it in Viakal or similar which helped a lot with our so now you have reminded me I am going to take it back out and give it another go.

    Make sure you hold the body of the tap when you are removing the cartridge because then can be in there very tight. Let me know if you want some photos

    Premier Icon StuF
    Full Member

    Make sure the new cartridge has the same splines for the tap handle, not just the diameter/depth of the screw thread into the tap body.

    Premier Icon WorldClassAccident
    Free Member

    Some of the tap handles slide on without splines and are held on with a grub screw. Interestingly on our taps both taps had the same size grub screw but then the bits between the tap and the centre spout both had a different size grub screw and the central spout had a third size of grub screw.

    So easy when the grub screw heads are hidden away underneath and you have to guess whether they are hex or star and then what size each one is.

    Premier Icon pocpoc
    Full Member

    There’s also those pipe freezing kits which would allow you time to fit a proper isolator. They wouldn’t allow you time to soak it in descaler overnight or nip down to the hardware shop with the old cartridge in your hand(unless it’s very close by).

    Also, I’ve never used one, so can’t speak from experience.

    Something like this is push fit if you have access and can cut the existing pipe it won’t take long:
    push fit 15mm isolator

    Premier Icon ransos
    Free Member

    The hot water supply can be isolated on my combi boiler – there’s a screw isolator on the mains water inlet pipe.

    Premier Icon WorldClassAccident
    Free Member

    I fit these every time I go near the plumbing where there isn’t one already fitted.

    Premier Icon spooky_b329
    Full Member

    If you’ve got an old fashioned open header tank and hot water cylinder it’s possible that you’ll have to drain off all your hot water and empty the tank (meaning the muck at the bottom gets churned up). This takes ages to do, ages to refill and ages and £££s to heat the water up again.

    On this type of system, you can drain the cold water loft tank, once this is done there is no head to push water out of the top of the hot water cylinder. I did it several times in my old house when I needed to turn the water off whilst renovating the kitchen and bathroom, without wasting all the hot water.

    Premier Icon hamishthecat
    Full Member

    The hand over the tap thing will come in handy when you find you have an airlock after draining the water from the pipe and then turning things back on.

    Oh, and the valve will be a lot more expensive than you expected.

    Premier Icon BigJohn
    Full Member

    Sometimes a cold water loft tank only has an outlet to the cylinder though.

    Premier Icon joshvegas
    Free Member

    There’s also those pipe freezing kits which would allow you time to fit a proper isolator. They wouldn’t allow you time to soak it in descaler overnight or nip down to the hardware shop with the old cartridge in your hand(unless it’s very close by).

    They expensive and while they do work they really are a pain in the arse.

    Easier in the long run to buy a bag of isolation valves turn off the water once and put a valve on EVERYTHING you can get at.

    Premier Icon pocpoc
    Full Member

    Easier in the long run to buy a bag of isolation valves turn off the water once and put a valve on EVERYTHING you can get at.

    Agree for the semi-competent DIYer. If you’re not competent then you’re introducing a leak risk where there wasn’t one previously. I’ve just spent the weekend fitting a new bath 180 degrees round to the old one so had to run the pipes to the other end. Added a 22mm isolator to the hot feed while I was at it (there wasn’t one previously). Something didn’t quite tighten right on it (my error) and there was a very slight drip coming out which only appeared a few hours later and had to turn the water off again to fix. If that went unnoticed then there would have been some soggy floorboards the next morning.
    I disclaimed before that I’ve never used a freeze kit – didn’t realise how expensive they were! (~£20 for a single pipe kit in Screwfix). I don’t think I could ever trust one not to give up at a critical moment.

    Premier Icon lunge
    Full Member

    Update, I’ve found the isolation value, it was a bit further from the tap than expected, but it’s there and I’ve traced the pipe to it so know it’s the right one.

    This makes the task much less intimidating so I shall have a crack over the weekend.

    Premier Icon WorldClassAccident
    Free Member

    Push fit isolator work great on copper pipes as long as they are not dented. Just sand off any paint before fitting

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