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The Dripping Mixer Tap In The Kitchen

Cleaning a washerless Mixer Tap to reduce leaking

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Editor's note: The faucet has the name "Hella" on it. No model number or name is available.
Contributed by Puddledud.

The Article

My credentials are - none - this activity is not one for which I have any expertise at all!

If you choose to do as I have done it is your decision and be it on your own head!

Be aware that one possible outcome is a disassembled tap which cannot be got back together or a tap with a persistent and unfixable leak. Potentiallly - there may even be worse outcomes to be achieved.


This house is about 20 years old so I guess that the tap is too. The water supply here has a lot of mineral in it. The tap has reached the stage where it drips - even when I am careful about turning it off.

The folklore on the subject of mixer taps is that this type of tap is difficult to fix - one suggestion that I found on the net was to buy a replacement module and that could be a good move. One consideration is the cost of these replacement modules and another - not to be underestimated - is to determine which module may be needed and then to try to find out whether or not the needed module is available.

I saw a mixer tap for sale in a catalogue recently for just [AUD]$29 but there is still the issue of the cost of getting it fitted and I have no idea what length of service such a tap might give. Initially, I couldn't tell who had made the tap I wanted to work on.

This is the result of my experiences in dealing with the problem.

I found a tap at a demolisher's secondhand yard. It was not exactly the same as the one I wanted to fix but I recognised the decorative design on the top of the handle and thought that at least it was made by the same manufacturer. The tap was battered - scrap - and didn't cost much to buy.

This is a picture of the tap I wanted to work on:

Figure 1


The handle is secured to the tap by a set screw - metric allen key head - located underneath the handle.

Figure 2

When this is removed a distinctive nylon movement guide for the stick can be seen.

Figure 3

The trick - as far as I was concerned - is that the domed stainless piece below the lever assembly is just a push on fit to screen a brass threaded retaining nut from view.

Figure 4

I gently prised this cover off after first twisting it firmly to loosen it. This manouvre requires a good strong grip. A pair of multigrips is then sufficient to remove the brass locking nut but care is necessary to grip the nut tightly. If large spanner sizes are available then they would be a wiser choice for removing the nut.

Figure 5   

Once this nut is removed then the tap is easily disassembled. I marked a position on the nut with a texta as a reference point before removing it so that I had a rough idea of where it should point to when tightened.

There is no need to remove the nylon securing ring from the brass securing nut.

At this point I was able to remove the innards and found - listing is top down -:

Figure 6 A brass securing nut.

Figure 7 A nylon securing ring (screwed into the top of the brass securing ring)

Figure 8 A nylon movement guide

Figure 9 A spring washer

Figure 10 A
rubber(?) or silicon(?) washer - the downward facing side has a ceramic? surface

This is the gummed up one that I took out of the tap - the one I cleaned up was just as bad if not worse.

Figure 11 A "ball on a stick" - with holes to allow the water to move throught the fitting.

Again this is the gummed up ball on a stick that I took out of the tap.

Figure 12  

 Figure 13

Figures 12 and 13 show two water entry ports each of which has a rubber? or silicon? grommet. Below each of these grommets is a spring.

Also removed was a flat rubber seal ( to prevent leaks presumably)  (No picture)

I advise against removing the flat rubber seal as the one on the salvaged tap was fragile and broke easily.

There is a guide key on the side of the nylon movement guide and a slot to match it in the casing of the top of the tap body.

The "ball on a stick" slots into a pivot point on the right hand inside wall of the tap assembly and there is a slot on the side of the ball which is to be located on the pivot point when the tap is reassembled.

What next?

An inspection of the innards revealed a lot of scale on the "ball on a stick", the large capping washer and also - to some extent - on the grommets at the base. The scale on the grommets was on the sides of the gromets and not immediately visible. I am not entirely sure that what I detected was scale they may have been made that way.

I consulted the web and found that scale can be removed with lemon juice.

After a trip to the lemon tree, perhaps 6 to 8 lemons later I had a glass jar with about three centimeters of lemon juice in it (Figure 14).

Figure 14

I soaked the seals, the "ball on a stick", the gromets and the springs.

The springs I didn't soak for long as I was wary of eroding the thin metal.

The seals I monitored carefully - they seemed to cope with the lemon juice well and maybe even softened up a little.

I didn't remove all of the build up from the sides of the base gromets as I wasn't sure whether what I was removing was actually scale or whether it was meant to be there.

The upper seal needed quite a lot of soaking to clean up the bluish ceramic? component which is overlaid on the rubber/silicon? seal.

The "ball on a stick" needed very extensive soaking - all told it was in the lemon juice for the best part of 24 hours. At intervals I would remove the soaking items and rub at the disolving scale with a tissue.

Initially the scale looks much like the brass that might show through if a plated surface has been worn away.

Figure 15               

 Figure 16

Figures 15 and 16 show what the "ball on a stick" and the silicon/rubber? seal looked like when they had been cleaned up.

The Plan

The plan is to disassemble the kitchen tap and - if it is the same - then use some or all of the cleaned bits and pieces to replace the scaled up bits currently in the tap.

The top of the mechanism does look the same I might add - for I have had the handle off when I made an earlier investigation.

I intend to reuse the existing cap and brass retaining nut.

I expect the "ball on a stick" to be held in place by a combination of the tension of the brass securing nut and the nylon securing ring and I suspect that getting the pressure on the "ball on a stick" adjusted correctly using these two controls may be a large part of getting the tap to work correctly.

This is one reason why I intend to not undo the nylon securing ring but to simply reuse the brass securing nut which is currently in place. With a bit of luck this will mean that I only have one control - the nut - to get right to reset the pressure on the "ball on a stick" to the correct setting.


There is the issue of hygine to be considered.

On the one hand these taps are sealed - the gunk in them mainly comes from the water itself.

There is potential for other build up from use and splashes too and this is one reason to use as much as possible of the original pieces in the tap reassembly. There is of course no guarantee that the original pieces are any cleaner than the replacement pieces.

Hours of soaking in lemon juice also probably helps clean the parts which may be introduced.

And then there is the potential for the finished tap to be adequately flushed out when the tap is used.


It worked.

I ended up replacing the "ball on a stick" and its capping washer with the newly cleaned up pieces. I did not touch the lower gromets or their springs.

When tightening the brass retaining nut it is possible to lock the "ball on a stick" so it is necessary to carefully adjust the tension on the nut so that the ball moves smoothly as expected.

It is probably a good idea to move the lever about a bit once the nut is nearly tightened to help seat the rubber/silicon seal on the top of the "ball on a stick" and to get a good idea of just what tension is needed. The nut should tighten to something like the point marked with the texta but if the "ball on a stick" is then locked it is necessary to back the tension off until the "ball on a stick" moves evenly.

An alternatve would be to tighten the nut securely and then undo the nylon securing ring - as long as there is enough play left in the ring positioning to do that.

After thoughts

I found the tap manufacturer's name on the inside of the under handle cavity after I had removed it. In the case of this tap the manufacturer now appears to mainly sell caravan taps and is much better known for completely different products.


It is really a bit hard to evaluate the outcome of this project. Is success achieved when the tap never drips - after all taps drip at the best of times and these mixer taps drip easily if they are not turned off carefully. Is success achieved if the tap doesn't drip when it is turned off carefully?

I turned the tap off carefully - put a cup underneath the spout - and left it overnight. Figure 17 shows the result.

Figure 17



It is now  26th of May 2016, nearly four years on - and the tap continues to work well so anyone considering such a repair may find the effort worthwhile in the longer term.

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Article copyright 2012 by Puddledud, Web page layout copyright 2011 Richard Cappels All Rights to layout Reserved. Find updates at Return to HOME

First posted in July, 2012 (120715)

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Keywords: Reclaimed Dripping Leaking Hella Washerless Mixing Tap Cleaning Repair Lemon Juice Solution.

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