If your tap becomes hard to open or close or if you turn the handle and nothing happens then the head gear could be faulty. Head gear is found in most household taps, although newer ones use cylinders instead.

For instructions on how to remove the head gear you can read the topic on Replace tap washer or Replace tap head gear


tap head gear

This is an enlarged picture of a tap head gear.

1. Spindle 2. Retaining clip 3. Head gear body 4. PTFE sealing ring 5. Rubber washer 6. Washer retaining nut



This head gear is in the open position and so this is what it would look like when the tap is open and water is flowing.


Tap head gears are normally very reliable but There are several things that can go wrong with the head gear that can stop the tap from working or prevent the tap from working as it should. Check the retaining clip is in position, if this has broken or slipped of the spindle it can stop the tap from opening or closing.

head gear

If we wind the spindle, which is numbered 1 above the bottom part of the head gear that holds the washer moves up and down. When it moves down as far as it can go it stops the flow of water by compressing the rubber washer against the seat inside of the body of the tap.

tap seat

Here you can see the tap seat, when the tap is closed the rubber washer compresses slightly against this seat and makes a watertight seal. When you have the head gear removed it is also a good time to check the seat for signs of corrosion etc.

tap head gear

If you were to wind the tap too far down and the washer was badly worn there is a chance that the washer assembly could have slipped off its thread. To fix this turn the spindle whilst pushing the washer assembly towards the spindle.

head gear from tap

If the retaining clip has slipped off the spindle then the tap may not function correctly. If you remove the clip you can remove the whole winding assembly from the head gear body.


How a tap works video