Installing or Replacing a Faucet Installing or Replacing a Faucet

Faucets, like seemingly everything else in life, go in and out of style. Even if your old faucet is working just fine, you might come under some pressure to change faucets just so your kitchen or bathroom can reflect the latest fashion. Lucky for you, faucets are available in a broad price range - all the way from less than $20 for one made primarily of plastic all the way to $300 or more. The more expensive faucet should be made mainly of metal (brass) and will come with a multi year or even a lifetime warranty. So keep in mind when picking your new faucet, you do get what you pay for. Here's how to go about changing that old faucet.

Things you'll need:

  • New faucet
  • Locking pliers, adjustable wrench
  • Slip joint or water pump pliers
  • Basin wrench (possibly)
  • Utility knife
  • Plumber's putty or silicon caulk
  • Flashlight (so you can see under the sink)
  • Water supply lines and Teflon® tape

Removing the Old Faucet

A bottom-mounted faucet handle with the decorative cap removed, revealing the screw holding it in place.
Your first job is to get rid of your existing faucet. Start by turning off the water supply, either by shutting off the main water supply to your house (probably located close to your water meter), or by closing the shutoff valves on the water supply lines to your faucet. Then, open the tap to allow the water to drain out of the lines and remove any water pressure.

Next, use your adjustable wrench and disconnect the hot and cold water supply lines running to the faucet. If you're going to replace the lines, disconnect them at the shutoff valve, but if you're going to reuse the existing lines, do your disconnects at the base of the faucet itself.

Now it's time to actually remove that old faucet. Faucets are attached in one of two ways. Bottom mounted faucets are removed from the top of the sink. To remove a bottom mount faucet, you need to take off the faucet handles and escutcheon to get to the nuts holding the faucet. Once the nuts are exposed, use your wrench to take them off.

Top mounted faucets, unfortunately, are held in place by nuts located on the underside of the sink. You'll need to get under the sink to remove them, and space may be at a premium. If you're lucky, you'll be able to use your slip joint or locking pliers to loosen the nuts. However, if pipes are in the way, you'll need to use a basin wrench (a wrench specially designed to work in tight spaces where you don't have room to use an ordinary wrench or pliers).

Once you've removed the nuts holding the faucet, just lift it up off the sink. If there is some caulking holding the base to the sink, slide the blade of a utility knife carefully around the faucet base to cut it loose. You'll need to remove any old caulking or "grunge" that may have built up around the old faucet. You can get silicon remover at your home store, and a mixture of vinegar and water or an orange cleaner will remove the grunge.

Installing the New Faucet

If you're installing a bottom mounted faucet, put the faucet in place and put on the washers and mounting nuts, then hand tighten. Line up the faucet with the back of the sink and tighten them with a wrench. Run a bead of silicon caulking (or plumber's putty) around the base of the faucet, then install the escutcheon and the faucet handles.

Installing a top mounted faucet follows a similar process, with a couple of small differences. Lay down your bead of plumber's putty or silicon caulk before you place the faucet into the sink openings. Since you'll be working underneath the sink, it's easier if you have someone working up top to align the faucet and hold it, while you use a wrench to tighten the mounting nuts.

Once the faucet is firmly attached to the sink, reinstall your water feed lines, and turn the water back on and check for leaks. Clean up any plumber's putty or silicon caulk around the faucet itself before it has a chance to set up.

One final job before you're finished. Take off the aerator from your new faucet, turn on the tap and let water run for a couple of minutes. This will flush out anything that might be inside the faucet left over from the manufacturing process and ensure your new faucet runs clean.

That's all there is to it - you've just installed your brand new faucet.

Read on to learn how to repair various types of faucets.
Murray Anderson is an experienced freelance writer with articles published in both the United States and Canada. He has written on a wide range of topics, but specializes in home maintenance and how to's.

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