'Stuck' old handbasin tap

An old cold water tap in my parents’ house has pretty much seized since I was there last. Handbasin is decades old Twyfords.

I can’t see a screw to get the ‘handle off the stem’ to get into the innards, I’m sure it’s obvious once you know!

I really don’t want to replace it currently but it’s virtually impossible to turn on/off without a degree of double-handed wrestling.

The larger bath taps have a screw.

I’m no expert but my initial thought is that this doesn’t belong in The HiFi Corner …


:joy: :rofl: :rofl:

Could have sworn I’d posted in Padded Cell, how odd!

Maybe I should retitle as ‘what equipment do you use in the bathroom?’.

step one isolate the water, step two unscrew the dome section through which the stem passes, step three have a back up plan in case you break something and can’t get the water back on!

If it was me I would buy some new taps and replace them.

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Thanks Roog.

I tried unscrewing the dome section by hand yesterday (presumably anticlockwise), no luck, presumably I’ll need some kind of wrench.

I’d probably need to isolate the water at the stopcock as no local isolator just copper pipe directly to the tap fitting.

The bathroom needs updating in all honesty, so would rather not spend on new taps unless essential currently, though appreciate I could mess it up! The taps have worked for decades and I suspect it’s a fairly trivial fix.

I spent until late evening gardening there and had a bath, but it was too late to find tools in the garage to fiddle further.

Hi @Alley_Cat, yes I am not surprised that the dome might be tight, you could try a strip of rubber around the tap dome body before you get the pipe grips on it.

Once you have the dome off you should be able to get a spanner on the tap valve. I am guessing that it need a new tap washer. Its frustrating, cheap and easy fix 'if ’ you can get the thing apart.

I only suggested new taps because they seem to be comparatively cheap these days.

Good luck

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Cheers, no real rush to sort it, just another small yet annoying thing on the 'to do ’ list. Must ferret around in the garage as I bet there are suitable washers/tools there.

Make sure you have a plan B……

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I had a similar issue with a very similar tap a few years ago. It confounded all my efforts and even prompted me to purchase some rather specialised tools, all to no avail. In the end I had to admit defeat and called in a plumber. That was the best thing I did and something I should have done immediately. Half an hour’s work and the tap was back to working perfectly - all cleaned up inside with new washer fitted (the old one was an old leather washer!). £60 well spent.

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Tap the bottom of the dome all the way around with a hammer. This will loosen it and make it easier to remove. In fact, tapping the handle/stem (or everything) may loosen things).

Once the dome is off, you’ll see a nut which is used to compress the gland packing. (When the gland packing is compressed it forms a seal around the spindle, but it also grips the spindle).

Turn the nut anticlockwise to reduce the grip in the spindle and which will allow it to turn easily.

However, loosen it too much and the packing will start leaking. It’s trial and error to get the correct tightness.

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I’ll probably have a little tinker, but the plumber approach may be best as there are a couple of other things that could do with attention so maybe best on a single callout.

Stopcock :grimacing:


Some gentle heating might be enough to get the dome to unscrew. Boiling water…


In the short term, buy one of these.
Sold as an aid to opening jars, my go to tool when I need to get a good grip on something. I use it on the stopcock, which only has half a handle. :scream_cat:


1 What fatcat said, except I’d suggest first spraying it with some sort of light agent like WD-40 and let this soak in for a while.
2 wrap a bit of rubber around it like a rubber band to protect the surface
3 apply a mole wrench, not too much pressure though or you’ll compress the dome. With a bit of luck it will ease undone.

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