Water taps are liable to suffer from many complaints, but the most fruitful source of trouble is a worn-out washer. No one who has once mastered the art of putting on a new washer, will tolerate the inconvenience of a dripping tap for more than a few hours.
If the tap connects with the main, shut it off at the main; if it connects with the cistern, run a strip of wood under the ball, so raising the arm and closing the valve, then empty the cistern; if, however, it connects with the hot water tank it will be necessary to put out the kitchen or contributing fire, empty the cold cistern, and run off the hot water.
Now go to the defective tap, turn it on and allow the water to run until the flow ceases. At this stage it is ready for unshipping. The tap itself is a vertical rod which fits into a brass pipe, through which the water flows. Just where the two meet is seen a nut. Take a spanner and unscrew the nut, but remember that most taps are given a left-hand thread, and unless this fact is noted, you may tighten and not loosen the nut. If the work is being done over a china wash-hand basin, place a door mat on it. The nut may fly out of place, or the tap will perhaps fall over when loosened, and either may crack the basin.
Having removed the nut, the tap can be lifted out of its bearings. At the end farthest from the handle will be seen a little fixed collar of brass, below which is the defaulting washer, held in position by a small nut. Release this nut and the washer can be pulled away.
What we want now is a new washer of the exact size of the collar of brass. The wise amateur has foreseen this need, and procured in advance, three or four new washers of various sizes. Having chosen one that fits or having cut down a larger one so that it will serve, the new washer is placed in position and held firmly by screwing up the small nut. The tap is now returned to its bearings, and the large nut screwed up tightly. The tap drips no longer, and the job has been done at a cost of twopence, plus the expenditure of a little labour.
Another fault, but a less troublesome one, to which taps are prone is a sort of bubbling action, which is due to a badly packed stuffing box. Unship the tap as before, but this time, unwind the milled cap situated just below the handle. Run round the spindle some frayed twine which has been well greased, and, when the cavity is full, tighten up the milled cap.