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Published December 2nd 2017
Forget the plumber, learn a new skill
A leaking shower is pretty annoying when your bedroom is next to the shower and you can hear it drip dripping all night long. Not to mention the waste of water, and/or electricity if it is the hot water that is leaking.
Repairing a shower tap and stopping the irritating leak is much the same as stopping a regular basin tap from leaking. See here for how to fix a leaking tap.
One way in which the shower tap differs from a basin tap is the spring loaded flange. It is designed to keep the flange flat against the wall of the shower. It also happens to be designed to pop the whole tap off unexpectedly if the screw lid of the tap handle has come loose from regular use. I have lost count of the times where turning the shower on has resulted in a flying tap handle. If anything, it is a nifty practical joke to play on someone, loosening the lid just enough that when the unwilling victim has a shower, it all comes apart on them.
Disassembling and Repairing A Shower Tap: Step by Step with Photos
Remove these Shaw and Mason shower taps by unscrewing the cap
1. Collect your tools. The following tools are really useful to have in a home plumbing first-aid kit. Universal tap spanner (multi-fit), small flat-head screwdriver, an adjustable wrench or shifter, 13mm-19mm tap reseater, waterproof tap lubricant, and plumbing tape.
2. Turn the water off at the mains. It will be a garden variety tap out the front of your house near the boundary line, and there will be a water meter with it.
3. Lesson learned the hard way - put your foot over the shower drain or cover it up before beginning!
The spring-loaded trap...err flange
4. Unscrew that shower tap lid, and be ready to catch the tap handle. Pull off the spring loaded trap...err flange as well.
5. Now you can see the tap assembly. Use the multi-tap spanner or the shifter to loosen the tap bonnet and pull out the assembly.
6. There will be a red body washer on the bottom of the tap bonnet - check this for wear and replace with a new one as needed. The tap spindle can be unscrewed from the tap bonnet by hand. On the tap spindle, you will see a black O ring. Sometimes this needs replacing with a new O ring due to wear. Lubricate the tap spindle with the tap lubricant before screwing it back into the tap bonnet.
The exposed tap assembly, bonnet visible.
7. Look in the tap seat in the wall. There will be a tap valve sitting there as they don't usually come out when you pull the spindle and bonnet assembly out. Pull this tap valve out and have a look at it. If your tap is leaking, this is one of the parts that you should replace with a new one. The soft turn valves by Fix-a-tap are especially great for people who have difficulty turning taps off properly, like children with autism or others with problems that affect fine motor control. You can slip the new tap valve into the bottom of the reassembled spindle and bonnet assembly.
8. If your shower has been repaired before but keeps returning to leaking, you should reseat the shower taps. Get out the reseater tool, and screw it into the tap seat. As you turn the handle you will feel it grinding as it scours the inside of the tap seat.
A diagram of a tap assembly
Remove the tool when you are finished.
9. Insert the assembly back in, and tighten it. Put the spring-loaded flange and handle back on. Turn the mains back on as well, and test the shower out.
10. Don't panic if the shower is still leaking. The problem may be within the shower arm or head itself. You can get this free by using an adjustable wrench or shifter on the bolt at the base of the shower arm. If the leak is coming from the base here, wrap up the exposed thread with plumbing tape and look inside the base of the shower handle for a black O ring. If it is worn, replace it and screw the handle back on tightly with the shifter.
Using a wrench to get the shower arm off. Plumbing tape on the threads to prevent leaks.