Bath mixer tap: cartridge seal

9 Jun 2011
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United Kingdom
I finally got around to having a look at this mixer tap today. It leaks when turned on, no leak when closed. When I took the lever off the top of the cartridge, and opened the tap, I could see that the leaking was coming from within the cartridge, between the interface between the plastic top part of the cartridge, and the metal actuator (?) that the lever is attached to. Anyone who has taken apart a cartridge before will probably know what I'm talking about, and these 2 parts are shown in the attached picture.

Anyway, I took the cartridge out of the tap, and disassembled it. The picture clearly shows what the problem is. The greenish material pictured is packed into the top plastic part, and should be fully intact, forming a "socket", as in the "ball-and-socket" joint that should prevent water getting up through the actuating stem. Some of it remained where it was supposed to be. I found other bits the top side of the top piece (lever side).

The greenish material has a consistency a bit like blue-tack, perhaps a bit softer. In the picture, you can see one small piece that still holds it's shape.

Cleaned off, all the surfaces look fine, no scratches or gouges, so the greenish material failure is probably why it's leaking.

Does anyone know what this material is, and is it something easily gotten hold of? And if I can get it, will it likely seal the leak, anything else I need to consider? Anyone else come up against this before, and if yes, what was your solution?

I did check out the easy way out and try to source a replacement cartridge, but it is bigger than the usual 35 or 40 mm cartridges you normally see in hardware store or on ebay. This one is 45mm, and the only replacement I've seen is here:

At that price, I could nearly get 2 new complete taps, but there is the issue of access to install that I would like to avoid.
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