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Why did my kitchen mixer tap suddenly start pouring out water?

Homebase 'Leonie' mixer tap bought 2.5 years ago for £130. Top quality!

Suddenly, without anyone touching it and with both taps turned off water started pouring out of the spout. Have had to isolate the cold water supply to stop the flow which is about 80% of the normal mains flow rate. How can a modern ceramic valve fail in this catastrophic manner? Is this a design fault and will a valve change be worth it?

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Homebase installed a new mixer tap (of the same type!) under guarantee. The MD of Paini UK has asked for the old mixer tap for investigation.


Here we are again! The 'new' tap started dripping from the hot side in Feb 2016. I had to buy a new ceramic cartridge from Tap Magician for £10 inc P&P to fix it (very good service from this online company).

I have just had a new en-suite fitted and have insisted that the new shower (MIRA) does NOT have a ceramic valve.


Weve got a Leonie, bought in 2013. Its dripping, which sounds like a washer but weve absolutely no idea how to get inside it. Weve no instructions because the installer threw everything away. Not good enough! Just rung Homebase, not very helpful. Anybody any ideas please


Hi @janeybabes ,

Here is a link to the Tap Magician UK website (if that is where you are). Given the comment above yours perhaps you should contact them as they still say on their website that they have parts for Leonie taps. They will most probably also advise you on how to replace the cartridge.

here is the link to their website.

In the paragraph entitled "How do I know which size to order" there is a Contact Us link for further information.


For a very long time here in New Zealand we've had ceramic taps over the kitchen sink. Periodically one or the other starts to leak, and its easy to assume that the ceramic element needs replacing. However what I've found is that the problem is not the ceramic valve but o-rings used by the manufacturer getting old and losing their rubber "spring." The o-rings put pressure on the ceramic valve components and stop water squeezing past. But when the o-rings lose elasticity water starts to leak through the ceramic components. Very simple and cheap fix to replace an o-ring, but of course it has to be the right size.


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have you got £130 for a new tap? I'd have said installing a new valve would be far cheaper.. plumbase or any of those big bathroom stores should be able to point you in the right direction. Most taps have a standard size but it pays to check. Some highend products also come with quite long's worth a check.

try here or here

take the old valve off and trot along to your local plumbing shop. btw the tap is still for sale at homebase

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+ I'm not sure I would want to go back in with that model. But I'd sure like to know what failed.


when you pay that amount of money you don't expect it to fail, but the uk has lots of areas with hard water etc which might be why a build up of deposits has ruined the ceramic valve


Thanks for this. I have contacted Homebase who are sending out an installer to fit a new tap of the same type.

But no-one can answer my question as to how this has happened. It is obviously a manufacturing defect where the design allows the tap to turn on when the ceramic valve breaks. I am going back to Homebase Complaints, the manufacturer of the tap (Paini UK) and Trading Standards to make them aware.

Oh, & by the way, I live in Devon which has the softest water in the country.


Hope it's nice and sunny then.... Just another grey Yorkshire day of DIY here


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I have just had a failure in the same way with a very expensive Bristan bath shower mixer (about £350) out of waranty. This occurred on a Saturday evening and lead to the need to have my mains supply turned off until I was able to get and fit an isolation valve to the bath supply pipe!

I visited Plumbase, on the Monday, in an attempt to obtain a replacement for the failed component. The component which failed was the rubber retaining ring,the thing that holds the two pieces of the ceramic valve in place! This is effectively the same thing as the washers found in old taps, however it does not function as a seal in the way a washer did. It is more like a spring which keeps the two pieces of ceramic in close contact with each other. This website shows how to service this type of tap... the failed component in this case and I suspect Alan's is marked in photo 2. as "A" "Disc retaining washer"!

Plumbase told me that I would need a new (complete) valve cartridge to fix the problem which they did not have in stock. the reason they gave for not having stock of replacement valves was that they are not a generic component and that almost every tap has a different size valve body and that in most cases, it would also be necessary for them to carry twice the number because hot taps are left handed whilst cold are right handed! They said that they could obtain the correct replacement valve but would need to know the specific model number in order to do so! For this particular Bristan Tap range, the two valves for the bath shower mixer were quoted at £45 each and the valves for the basin taps would be £30 each. It was not possible to obtain a replacement for the failed "Disc retaining washer" A few pence if obtainable!

I contacted Bristan hoping that they might be able to supply a bag of these little rubber rings but was told they do not supply them and that the only way to repair the tap was to fit a new valve! Not in warranty... at my cost! All of this has taken over a week and still have no cold tap on my bath!

This story gets worse!!! While I was waiting for an answer from Plumbase I became worried about my Kitchen mixer £180 which is made by "Swirl", this is a brand of "Watersmith uk. ltd. owned by Screwfix. This company is not contactable, all attempts to contact them online take you to Screwfix and there is no Tel. no. for "Watersmith" listed. Screwfix told me that because the tap set was over one year old (out of warranty) If it failed I would have to buy a new set, they told me that they did not and would not supply any component part for it.

Warranties, see under fit for purpose, this website... The sale of goods act states that retailers, by law must give 6 year guarantees on all goods and that parts must be available for a minimum of 10 years depending on the amount of time a product is deemed to be expected to last!

It is generally held by the trade that a newly fitted bathroom should be good for 20 years, few people would change toilet bowls baths shower enclosures basins etc in less than 20 years and these items are usually guaranteed for 20 years! Therefore the fittings, taps showers etc. would be deemed by the consumer protection laws to only be considered "Fit for purpose" if they last a comparable time!

This is intended to be a cautionary tale, and unless we as British Citizens actually start to force companies to comply with these laws, my advice is to not buy expensive taps from companies such as Bristan and don't even consider buying taps from Screwfix unless they are at a price which is low enough that replacing them every few years is acceptable. I have found that there are many places where almost identical taps can be obtained for as little as £40 cheaper than Bristans replacement valves! Consider buying a spare set at the time which will provide sufficient spares for any components which fail during the "fit for purpose" duration and will still be considerably cheaper than buying an expensive set!

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screwfix sell replacement ceramic cartridges in 3 sizes at £5-49 for a set of two hot and cold going to a job tomorrow taps have only been on basin less than a year if you have to have ceramic taps make sure pipes are flushed prior to connecting to taps in my mind you ncant beat good old fashioned rubber tap washers and they also make good packers old or new with a ready made screw hole


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Alan will be eternally grateful.
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