If you’ve never done it before, working out how to take a tap apart without damaging any of the parts can seem intimidating at best and impossible at worst. But it’s actually nowhere near as complicated as you might think! Whether you want to repair a tap, fix a dripping tap or remove the tap entirely, there are some straightforward steps you can follow. Read our guide on how to take a tap apart and then get straight to work without having to call a plumber!
Why Take a Tap Apart?
There are many varied reasons you may want to take a tap apart. These include:
- Repair a Leaky Tap
- Fix Dripping Taps
- Remove the grit, minerals, and other materials that have become lodged.
- You may want to remove and replace the taps entirely.
- Readjust a Tap Handle
- Replace the Washer
- Correct the Valve Seat
If you are looking to perform any of the above actions, you will need to know how to take a tap part without causing any damage to any of the components. Read below for our step-by-step guide on how to do this quickly and with the least fuss.
How to Take a Tap Apart?
Below we will take you through the simplest way to go about taking apart a tap. But first, you will need to gather your tools. Here’s what you will need for the job. We do have different instructions for mixer taps.
What You Need
- Slim Flathead Screwdriver
- Small Philips Head Screwdriver
- Dry, clean cloth
- Pipe Wrench
- Adjustable Spanner
- Sharp Scissors
Step 1 – Turn Off the Water Supply
Your first step is to find and turn off your tap water supply, to ensure you don’t have to deal with any mopping up as soon as you get started. You can turn off the stopcock which is usually found under the kitchen sink to cut off the supply for the whole house. Or, if you are working on a bathroom tap, you can find the isolation valve to turn off the water supply to that particular tap system.
Then you should turn the tap on and let any excess water which may have been stored in the tap drain away before you start work on dismantling the faucet.
Step 2 – Remove the Decorative Caps on the Top
The majority of taps will have decorative caps and covers on the top of the knobs to add to their aesthetic appeal. These are usually quite easy to take apart by using a thin flathead screwdriver to remove them.
- Simply slide the thin edge down the side of where the cap meets the rest of the tap and use the tool to create enough pressure to flip it up and remove it.
- Take care not to scratch or damage either the cap or tap by pushing down too hard or forcing a screwdriver that is too thick for the job.
- If you intend to reassemble the tap afterwards, then make sure to put the caps and other decorative parts in a safe spot where they won’t get lost.
Note: Some older taps can have a small grub screw located at the back of the tap. This can be undone to remove the tap head.
Step 3 – Unscrew the Tap Handle
Now that you have removed the decorative caps on top of the taps, the next step is to use a small phillips screwdriver to unscrew the small grub screw which is now exposed. If you have trouble with getting the screw to move, you can use WD40. Apply the lubricant and leave it to work for a few minutes, before wiping it away and trying to remove the screw again.
Step 4 – Remove the Tap Stem
Once you have removed the tap handle, the tap stem will now be exposed. If you are taking apart the tap to address a leak or dripping, you are one step closer to the part you will be looking for! Use a pipe wrench and the adjustable spanner to hold the tap stem in place and work at the hexagonal nut at the top of the stem. Again, if it is too stiff you can use some WD40 as a lubricant and then try again.
When the nut finally gives and you remove it, make sure to keep track of where you are putting the parts so you will find it easy to put everything back together again once you have finished your repairs.
Step 5 – Remove the Tap Washer and the O Ring
Once the Tap Stem is removed, you’ll be able to see the rubber washer and examine it for signs of tear and wear which may be the cause of any dripping or leaks that you may be experiencing. If the washer is damaged, you can replace the washer with a new one and then start building up the tap again.
If not, then you can also remove the O ring which you will see on the bottom of the metal spindle which sits at the base of the tap. You can try to unscrew it by hand, if it refuses to give then use a sharp pair of scissors to easily cut it off.
Whether you are looking to address a leak or an annoying dripping problem or replace a tap entirely, you will find that taking apart a tap isn’t anywhere as hard as it may first appear. A tap is made of different components which should all come apart easily if you work at them step by step. And if you run into trouble getting a part of the tap to move, you can always add some WD40 to help with getting screws and nuts to give if they have rusted tight. This is definitely a job you can manage on your own without having to resort to the extra cost of calling out a plumber – we do have another article if the taphead is particularly stuck. All you need is the tools we have listed above and to follow the simple, easy-to-follow steps we have listed above in our straightforward guide for how to take a tap apart.
Plumbing Wizard Tips
“Having the tap apart gives you a good opportunity to give it a good clean with a descaling agent!”
“Any washers or o-rings that are crusted up, worn or perished will need to be replaced as they are a leak waiting to happen!”
“Use a rag or cloth to hold the tap and be careful not to use too much force, many taps are chrome plated and when they are scratched, they will never be 100% again!”
“WD40 is your friend but if you do use a degreasing agent, make sure you clean it all off before putting the tap back together – you do not want it contaminating your drinking water!”
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you remove a tap cap?
Some tap caps will simply unscrew, and others may have a groove to fit a screwdriver. If you don’t have the correct tool, a sharp-edged object such as a knife can also be used to pry the cap off.
How do you remove a screwless tap handle?
Different taps have different designs. Some have caps that can be unscrewed, others have removable collars. If your tap has a cap, you can use a small screwdriver or knife to pry it off. If the cap is damaged and won’t come off, you can try using pliers to grip it and pull it off.
If your tap has a removable collar, insert a thin flathead screwdriver into the recess on the top of the handle and rotate it counterclockwise to loosen it. Once the collar is loose, you should be able to gently pull it off by hand.
Do you need a plumber to change the taps?
No, you don’t need a plumber to change taps. Changing taps is an easy job to do and can be done by anyone. All you need is a few tools and some basic knowledge of how to do it. The most important thing is to make sure that the water supply is turned off before you start so that you don’t flood the area or injure yourself. Once the water is off, simply remove the old tap and put in the new one. Then turn on the water supply and test it out to make sure everything is working properly. changing taps is a quick and easy job that anyone can do!
Lee Pearce is not just a master plumber; he’s a veritable Plumbing Wizard. With over 30 years of experience in the trenches of pipes and drains, Lee has become the go-to sage for DIY plumbing, saving homeowners thousands in potential call-out charges. As the founder of Plumbing Wizard, he’s dedicated to demystifying the complexities of home plumbing, offering easy-to-follow advice that stands the test of time and pressure. His online blog is a treasure trove of tips, tricks, and tutorials that empower everyday individuals to take charge of their home’s plumbing health. Lee’s practical wisdom is not just about fixing leaks; it’s about imparting confidence and self-reliance. When he’s not writing or elbow-deep in a plumbing project, Lee is passionate about educating the next generation of DIYers, ensuring that practical skills are passed down and preserved.