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How to Replace a Tap Head Gear

Updated on January 3, 2017
New tap
New tap
Old head gear
Old head gear

Fix the Faucet or Tighten a Tap

If you have ever experienced the handle of a tap coming away in your hand while you are twisting it, you will be aware of mild panic that can arise when a relied-upon appliance breaks. However, imagine knowing that you have the skills to repair the problem and the worry that will take off your shoulders. It will not necessary to spend money on a contractor or take time off work to arrange an appointment with one.

Instead, you can be assured that the task of repair can be undertaken without any professional assistance or hassle, with only the cost of replacement parts needing to be spent. In fact, you will find that once you understand the components of a tap – whether in the kitchen or bathroom – and how they work together, the process of replacing it is not as scary as it may initially seem and you will have the confidence to complete the project successfully.

Equipment needed:

  • Replacement tap head gear
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Flat head and cross head screwdrivers
  • Penetrating oil
  • Wire wool or fine sandpaper
  • Cloth

Preparation

In addition to gathering all the tools and equipment required in preparation for the project, it will also be prudent to clear the area in which you will be working. Start by clearing out any items that might in the sink and follow this by doing the same for the area around the sink. This will ensure that you have a clear area in which to work and are not at risk of knocking anything over during the course of the task. One of the most important preparatory steps is to cut off the water supply to the taps on which you are working. This step is necessary to prevent water from gushing up through the opening that is made when the tap head gear is removed, which will certainly prevent you from working efficiently.

The water either can be turned off using an isolator valve or must be turned off at the mains. An isolator valve can be found beneath the sink that is being worked on and has the appearance of a single screw head set in a short length of pipe that is positioned at a join in the main pipe. The slot of the screw will be in a vertical position and it need only be turned 90⁰ into a horizontal position to prevent water from reaching spout.

Not all taps benefit from an isolator valve in the pipes that serve them, so if you cannot find one beneath the sink it will be necessary to turn off the water at the mains. In this case, the work of replacing the tap head gear can only commence after the water tank is empty. When this step is necessary, it is a good idea to turn off the water at the mains a day or two before you plan to do the work so that the water can be used up without the tank automatically refilling. Any water that remains in the pipe can be removed simply by opening the spout and allowing the water to run, which will be an ideal time to fill basins, bowls and kettles with water so that it can be used for other purposes and is not wasted.

When purchasing the replacement, get advice from the sales person, if needed, to ensure that you obtain the correct item. It is not always necessary for the tap handle to be a straight replacement, as you may be able to use handles of a different style because the stem beneath the handle is what needs to be compatible.

Removal of Head Gear

Remove the cap of the handle by carefully slotting a flathead screwdriver into the rim and prising it up. This will reveal a single screw beneath that holds the handle in place to the head gear, which needs to be removed. Once the screw is withdrawn, the handle can be removed completely and the head gear can be accessed.

The existing tap head gear is likely to have been in place for a great many years so you can almost guarantee that it will be stiff. To help loosen it up, apply some penetrating oil to the joint where the head gear meets the base and leave it to work for approximately five minutes.

An adjustable wrench will suit the nut no matter the size and should be fitted firmly in place. Brace yourself with your hand against the sink or the spout, if each tap has one rather than a single mixer spout. The nut needs to be twisted anti-clockwise in order to remove it, which is likely to require a lot of elbow grease before any movement can even be felt. As soon as there is some give, it will be easy to loosen the head gear enough to remove it by hand.

Fitting of New Head Gear

Before fitting the new head gear in place, check inside the recess and take the opportunity to clear away any debris. It may also be necessary to clean the edges, which can be undertaken with sandpaper or wire wool. Use the cloth to clear away any remnants. Check the washers in the recess for signs of any damage and replace those that appear to be damaged or worn. The new head gear can then be put in place and the threads aligned so that you can start by twisting it in place by hand. Tighten it with the wrench without over tightening. Put the handle on top and secure it with the screw supplied and follow this by pressing the cap into place on top.

Finishing Up

Discard the components that have been removed and clean the base of the taps to remove any traces of oil and debris. Turn the tap handle to the closed position and turn the water supply back on before testing your handiwork.

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