Removing Old Bathroom Taps
REMOVING THE OLD TAPS
Removing the old bathroom taps is usually the most difficult part of the job of changing your taps, and even plumbers approach it with trepidation. As well as the problem of access to the backnuts holding the tap tails, you are quite likely to find that the taps are stuck fast in old sealant.
Unlike a sink, you can’t simply rely on brute force. China suites are especially vulnerable to cracking, but even enamelled steel and acrylic plastic baths can suffer damage if the taps are allowed to turn in their holes. The answer is to be well prepared before you start.
Where possible, unscrew and remove any boxing-in around a basin to give yourself as much room as possible. If the basin is set into a vanitory unit, it’s worth taking the trouble to remove the unit doors and shelves
Acrylic bath panels simply clip on. Otherwise, look foror ‘push on/off’ magnetic catches holding the panel. Part of the supporting framework may also need to be removed, so that there’s enough room to reach under the bath.
Before starting in earnest, check that the tools you have available are capable of bearing firmly on the tap backnuts; if not, there’s no point in going any further. The usual options are:
♦ A ‘universal’ tap tool.
♦ A basin ‘Crowsfoot’) spanner.
♦ An adjustable tap wrench.
If you can get the supply pipes out of the way, it may be that an ordinary box spanner (as used for car repairs) works best since this allows you to apply more torque (turning force). Otherwise, hire or borrow the relevant tool.
Preparing to start
If the tap tails are corroded or caked with grime and scale, clean them with steel wool or a wire brush. Then, in all cases, squirt penetrating oil around the backnuts and tail threads, and leave this to work its way along the threads for at least two hours.
Working from above, devise a way to stop the taps turning as you loosen the backnuts. Normally, a piece of wood bearing against the nearest wall is sufficient, but if you’re working alone cut a notch in it so that it can be wedged firmly. Remember, the tap will turn in the same direction as the nuts — clockwise viewed from above.
Finally, pour some boiling water over the base of the taps to soften the old sealant. (On no account use direct heat, whatever the suite is made of.)
1. Isolate the supplies to the taps (bathroom stopcocks are often hidden behind the bath panel). Open the taps to drain any water left in the pipes.
2. Use an adjustable wrench to undo the tap connectors holding the supply pipes to the tap tails. Ease the pipes out of the way (but don’t force them).
3. From above, make sure the tap is supported to stop it from turning. From below, loosen the backnuts with the appropriate tool, then remove the tap.
"You’d be surprised how much easier it is to wrestle with old taps if you start from a comfortable working position: try various approaches and see which is easiest, using cushions as padding if necessary. You also need plenty of light, so rig up an inspection lamp on an extension lead."