Formerly Jim's Plumbing

How to Change A Mixer Tap Cartridge

One of the most common causes of a leaking tap, at least the traditional style of tap, is a damaged washer. Over time it wears down through daily use and suddenly you’re left hearing the “drip drip drip” sound coming from the tap as you try to sleep. Typically you have a relatively straightforward solution: you or a plumber pulls apart the tap to replace the old washer with a brand new one.

However, more and more homes are moving towards the convenience and functionality of a mixer tap. And instead of traditional washers, these have mixer tap cartridges in their place.

The mixer tap cartridge presents a few additional challenges when it comes to needing a fix or replacement. But with the right knowledge and understanding, you will never put a step wrong again. Here’s what you should know about how to fix a leaking mixer tap.

What are Mixer Taps?

While you may just call it a tap most of the time, mixer taps are a standard feature in most brand new homes and countless renovated houses in Australia.

Essentially, mixer taps have just a single tap and typically just a single tap handle. You control both the hot and cold water with the one handle, and it comes out of the same spout. You might also see a tap with two handles and one spout referred to as a mixer.

There are various styles of mixer taps, including single lever, wall mounted, pull out or monobloc. You’ll regularly find mixers in the kitchen sink and bathroom, including the bathtub, shower and basin. You might even find one in the laundry.

Mixer Tap Cartridges 101

Instead of a traditional tap washer, inside there is a ceramic cartridge with two discs. The bottom disc is fixed and the upper one rotates when the handle is moved, allowing water to flow through.

Ceramic disc mixer tap cartridges are far more durable than rubber washers, but they are still susceptible to cracks and leaks.

But if you’re contemplating some form of DIY plumbing to swap out those cartridges, before you grab a spanner, first take some time to read our tips.

Have the Right Tools, But First…

Before you begin any unlicensed DIY plumbing work, it’s important to be aware of what you’re legally able to do and what you’ll need to call a licensed plumber for.

In most states of Australia, you’re required by law to have a licensed plumber install your mixer tap. As for replacing the tap’s mixer cartridge, that will likely be something you can do yourself. Always double-check with your state’s plumbing regulations website, though, for confirmation.

Now, about those tools…

If you’re confident that you can tackle the changeover yourself, check that you have the necessary tools for the job. You want to make sure you have everything you need ahead of time.

For mixer tap cartridge replacement, you’ll most likely need the following:

  • Replacement cartridge
  • Flathead screwdriver and/or Phillips head screwdriver
  • Adjustable spanner
  • Pipe wrench
  • Allen key

Another important step before you tackle any DIY fix is to turn the water supply off. The last thing you want is a gushing stream getting in your way. Always remember though that it’s OK to ask for expert assistance from a plumbing professional if you’re not confident in getting the job done yourself.

Repairs Of Basin and Sink Mixer Tap Cartridges

Once you turn off the water, it’s time to begin.

Depending on the type of tap you have, there are various ways to remove the handle.

For example, there may be a small plastic cap which conceals the grub screw. The grub screw may also be located at the bottom of the tap, without a cover. If there is a cap, pry it off gently with the tip of a Stanley knife or screwdriver.

Once the grub screw is revealed, turn and remove it with an Allen key. Alternatively, if there is a retaining screw, you will need a Phillips head screwdriver to unscrew it.

With the cover and screw removed, you’ll have clear access to the cartridge. Remove the cartridge from the body with a spanner, turning it in an anti-clockwise direction to loosen.

At this point, remove the chrome dress ring with a pipe wrench – or similar – and then a brass retaining nut with a spanner.

Now there is clear access to the cartridge! If you knew the exact model before any changeover, you may have a suitable new one to put in its place. But if you don’t, take the old cartridge to the local hardware store to find the perfect replacement.

Finally, with the right part, place the cartridge back in the tap and correctly restore all the associated parts. Turn your water supply on again and you’re good to go with a good-as-new tap!

The Right Time to Call in a Plumber

When it comes to repairing or fixing a mixer tap, there will be some challenging circumstances. Shower mixers will likely have internal parts and fittings located behind tiles, meaning you need to take out shower tiles. Home DIY repairs could be arduous and costly if you’re not experienced.

But any plumbing tasks that are beyond replacing cartridges should be left to the professionals. Before carrying out any other plumbing repair work, check with your state’s plumbing regulations website. Unlicensed plumbing work is illegal and you will not be covered by insurance, which could be costly if your repairs go wrong.

So if you are annoyed by the leakage from the tap valve in your mixer tap, before you go to fix it, think about the overall outcome. Do you want to repair, or is the time right for an upgrade?

Get Your Hot and Cold Water Under Control

Though a mixer tap cartridge should last you a good five to ten years, it can leak for an assortment of reasons ranging from poor installation to loose connections or a faulty tap valve.

Should you determine that simply changing the cartridge will not be enough to fix your leaking tap issue, or you want to upgrade from your decades-old conventional tapware, you can always have a plumber come in to install or replace your mixer tap. We have access to the most popular brands, with many offering a unique registered design developed here in Australia.

Perhaps the best result is calling a local plumber from Plumber Near Me for mixer tap installation! We know it all, from blocked drains to leaking tap repairs and hot water installation.

Please note: This information is provided for advice purposes only. Regulations differ from state to state, so please consult your local authorities or an industry professional before proceeding with any work. See our Terms & Conditions here.