New taps can really refresh a bathroom, and contemporary fittings are generally much easier to use than some of the older models. However, many DIYers find the task of installing new taps something of a challenge. In fairness this is mainly due to inaccessibility and awkwardness of the pipework; it is actually a relatively straightforward process. These simple tips can help you if you are a confident handy person and undergoing some DIY.
Before you start:
Firstly, turn the water off before you begin any work. If you’re fitting a new basin as well as new taps, it’s easier to fit the taps prior to fitting the basin. Ensure your taps are suitable for your system whatever pressure and flow rates that might have. If you have a cold water tank in the loft (generally a low pressure system), it is usually better to use UK-made taps and those that state they are for low pressure systems. For ease of shutting off water, standard tap connectors can be replaced for flexible hoses that have an integral service valve. The top end connects to the tap, the bottom end acts as a compression or push fitting to connect to the pipe and this has a screwdriver slot that turns the water on and off. Modern taps are made to standard measurements, but check the hole dimensions to make sure old basins or baths are compatible with mixer taps. Also ensure that the spout hangs long enough that no water spills out over the side of the basin or bath.
Removing old taps:
Completely drain the pipes through the taps, and ensure water is completely shut off. Working with dribbling pipes is not fun. To undo the tap connector, use a crow’s foot wrench or an adjustable spanner, and use the same tool or a box spanner to undo the back nut. Pull the pipe from the tap and lift out from the mounting hole. Remove any old sealant with a sharp razor blade or silicone remover (be careful).
Fitting the new taps:
Fit a new sealing ring or gasket to the tap tail and push a big rubber washer into the base of the tap if it has one. You may then position the new tap in its mounting hole. You can now thread the rubber, metal and top-hat washer from below the basin, before threading on the back nut and tightening it. To make sure you have a watertight seal, fit a new sealing washer at the top of both tap connectors/ flexible hoses. Align the tap connector/ flexi hoses and the tap tails, thread the connector up and tighten the nut with a spanner or wrench (not too tight on a rubber seal). Fit the tap connectors/ flexi hoses to the copper water pipes – these will usually be either push fit or compression fittings. Test for leaks by turning on water, and gradually tightening the pipes and fittings if necessary.
Finally, sit back and feel proud that you have fitted new bathroom taps by yourself!