Ceramic Disc Taps work in a different way to conventional taps that use rubber washers and spindles. Ceramic Disc Taps contain a cartridge within the body of the tap which comprises of two ceramic discs, each with two holes. One of the discs turns when the tap is opened, whilst the other is fixed in place. When the tap is off, the holes in the discs are misaligned. As the tap is turned on, the holes in the discs line up to allow water to pass through. When the tap is fully open, the holes should be perfectly aligned.
Ceramic Discs are generally more resistant to wear and corrosion than traditional rubber washers, and so are particularly good for hard water areas. However, if the disc gets scratched or if the rubber seal around the cartridge gets damaged or corroded, you will still have a dripping tap to deal with.
Checking Ceramic Discs
Turn off the water supply to the taps, either at the stopcock or using the service valve on the pipework directly below the tap. You now need to remove the tap handles by either pulling them off or by removing a small cap and undoing a retaining screw. With the handles removed, use the correct size spanner to carefully unscrew the headgear and remove it.
You can now carefully remove the ceramic cartridges holding the discs. The hot and cold cartridges will be different, so make sure to keep them separate if you are removing both at the same time. Have a look at the ceramic discs to see if any damage or wear is visible. If the cartridges are dirty or show signs of limescale, carefully clean them off.
If the ceramic disc is damaged, you will probably need to replace the whole cartridge rather than being able to just replace the discs. Some tap manufacturers will supply you will replacement discs if you ask. Replacement cartridges can cost quite a lot of money (£15-25 is not unusual), so taking care of your ceramic disc taps is important. If replacing a ceramic cartridge, make sure you take the old cartridge with you so that you are sure you have a match.
If the cartridge is just dirty, give it a careful clean, check the rubber seal and carefully replace it in the body of the tap. Replace the headgear and tighten it up using a spanner. Finally, replace the tap handle and turn the water back on.