According to research, England may face serious water shortages in the next two decades due to a failure to tackle water leakage on a national scale. The good news is you can do your part to cut down water wastage by checking if all your taps are in working order. Not to mention, replacing your old bath tap with a brand new, won’t just add to the aesthetics of your bathroom but may also help you cut down on your fresh-water tax. One of the biggest signs that your taps need replacing is constant dripping.
Bathroom upgrades are essential. From painting the tiles, the whole bathroom, and even unblocking the sink. If you’ve been holding out for a step-by-step guide for a DIY tap replacement project – we’ve got excellent news. Our tap-centric feature won’t just walk you through the options you have when browsing for taps but will also break down the entire process of changing fixtures. So, let’s get to it.
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Why you should change your old tap
If you’re still a bit iffy about taking on the task of changing your old taps, here are a few reasons to help make up your mind.
1. Water Conservation
It may seem a little bizarre to think that a country surrounded by water on all sides and plenty of rainfall can ever face water shortages. But, the truth is, the Environmental Agency has stated that if water conservation isn’t taken seriously, the UK could face severe water shortages by 2050.
What does that have to do with taps, though? One of the biggest causes of water wastage is leakage. One leaky faucet may not do a whole lot of damage, but the numbers can add up if the problem is country-wide. You can contribute to water conservation by ensuring none of your taps is wasting fresh water by replacing the leaky ones.
2. Cutting Down Costs
A looming water crisis always brings with it the fear of increasing water taxes to combat water wastage. However, you can plan ahead and ensure an increase in fresh-water taxes doesn’t hurt your home budget by making sure all the taps in your home are in perfect working condition.
If you’re thinking of giving your bathroom a makeover to make it look a bit more modern – you’ll be surprised by the difference the perfect tap can make. Be it sleek edges for a contemporary look or sinuous curves for a traditional one – there’s a tap out there that can help you lift the aesthetics of your bathroom without any hassle.
Common types of bath taps
The first step of your tap replacement journey begins with identifying the kind of tap you’ve been using all this time. Typically, these taps fall under two main categories: pillar and shower mixer taps. Here’s how they differ.
As complicated as this term sounds – it’s just the technical term for individual taps (one for hot water and another for cold water). Most bathrooms are equipped with pillar taps and can have shrouded heads (i.e., the neck of the tap) made of plastic or metal. These taps are designed to allow the handle to turn the tap on while being a protective cover for the inner structure of the tap.
Pillar taps are available in a wide variety of designs; for example, there’s the Capstan head taps, bib taps, lever head taps, etc. Each design differs in functionality and offers its set of advantages. For instance, lever head taps are ideal for people who face difficulties like arthritis because it allows them to turn the tap on or off with barely any effort.
Mixer taps are a thing of the present and can be defined as two pillar taps fused together with a single spout for hot and cold water flow. Mixer taps allow users to open both the hot and cold water supply simultaneously to ensure they can get the perfect water temperature they need.
Like pillar taps, mixer taps are also available in several variations, one of the most common being the single-lever mixer taps. Generally, they are utilized for kitchen sinks or baths (with a pull button to allow you to switch using the taps or the overhead shower).
Similarly, mixer taps for washbasins include a pop-up plug that allows you to open and close the waste plug of the basin according to your needs. These taps generally have the spout and valve on the basin’s surface, whereas the tails run below the surface to join with the water supply pipes.
Bonus: Monobloc Taps
We know we mentioned two main types, but far be it from us to leave you with incomplete plumbing knowledge. Mixer taps that accompany a single pillar tap-type design are referred to as monobloc taps. These are designed to be sleek and compact – making them perfect for modern homeowners looking to conserve space.
With mono ones, the water supply is managed thanks to a single lever. You can access all types of water temperature combinations depending on where you turn the lever.
Preparing to change your bath tap
Once you’ve acquired the bathroom tap of your choice, it’s crucial to ensure you’re stocked up on all the tools you’ll need to change it. Also, it’s essential to check your new purchase for any defects or faults so you can avoid any roadblocks in your installation process.
Here’s a list of the tools you’ll need:
- Basin spanner
- PTFE tape
- Basin wrench
- Adjustable wrench
- Tap connector pipes
- Hacksaw (junior)
- Pipe cutting tool
Step-by-step guide: How to change a tap
The ABCs of changing taps isn’t too challenging if you know what you’re doing. That’s precisely what this section is all about. Scroll down to discover all the steps required to change your old leaky one with a new tap in less than 60 minutes.
Step 1: To begin with, you need to shut down the main water supply to your tap. If you don’t have an isolated valve, you may have to turn off the water at the main stopcock. Once you’ve tackled that, plug in the basin to ensure no fixings, bolts or other loose items go down the drain (no pun intended). If you notice excess sealant around the tap’s base, you can use a knife to remove it – although be careful not to scratch the basin.
Step 2: Next, locate the compression nut that tightens and connects the tap to the supply pipe and unscrew it. After that, work on unscrewing the back nut that holds the tap to the sink, similar to the kitchen sink. Generally, you can find both these nuts located beneath the basin.
It might take a bit of work loosening the nut, considering you’re not going to have too much space to move around in. That’s why it’s a good idea to utilize the basin spanner to loosen the nut. If worse comes to worst and the nut is almost immovable due to rust, you’ll have to employ the junior hacksaw to cut through the rusted nut.
Step 3: Clean the area around the tap hole to get rid of the muck and grime collected over time. If the new tap can connect straight onto the existing pipe, that’s great. If not, you’re going to have to use the tap connector.
Almost all new taps come equipped with flexible tails (this is the braided -or corrugated- pipe with a compression fitting on one end and a threaded tap connecter on the other side). If the pipe is longer than necessary, use the pipe cutting tool to rid the excess at the end of the pipe.
Step 4: Screw on the tap connecter to the new tap‘s end and tighten it with the help of the adjustable wrench. Make sure to keep the tap steady with one hand as you do this to ensure your fitting or baseplate isn’t damaged. After that, connect the pipe to the flexible tails’ end with the help of the compression fitting.
Use the PTFE tape to create a watertight seal around the connection for safety. Next, press the cap nut and one of the olives (the inner compression ring of the compression fitting). Finally, push the joint to make sure the pipe’s end meets the stop inside the joint.
Step 5: Tighten the main nut facing the fitting to ensure everything remains in place. Once the nut is secure, use a spanner to turn the nut while holding the fitting in place with another spanner.
Continue doing this until you feel the fitting is properly in its place. Go over each fitting and joint to make sure all of them are secure. Turn on the main water supply, check the water pressure and look out for any drips or leaks. If you do notice a drip, go back and tighten the required joint.
How much does it cost to replace taps?
It’s impossible to give you an exact figure as to how much replacing taps (be it a washer, shower or a kitchen tap) would entail. But, more often than not, hiring a professional plumber for the job may cost around £120, and that’s not inclusive of fitting costs. Depending on the brand, design, and intended use, taps can cost anywhere between £30 to £300. Suffice it to say, no matter the tap you choose, you can still end up saving 100 pounds if you DIY your tap replacement.
Our changing bathroom and shower mixer taps guide may be at an end, but your journey to a better looking and better functioning bathroom (or cloakroom) is just beginning. If you’ve never dabbled with plumbing before and feel all this thing about taps, washers, and connectors, is a bit much for you – you can always rely on the services of a professional.
However, if you’re an old hand at fixing plumbing problems – then take advantage of our guide to upgrade your taps and enjoy the numerous benefits that result from it. We’ll be back with more bathroom ideas next time. Till then, happy DIY!