How to Change a Faucet

Step 1

Turn the Water Off

(Don't forget this step because you may end up getting soaked!) There are two ways you can turn off the water. The first way is to simply turn the two valves immediately under the faucet that you are replacing. Then, open the faucet and allow it to drain and release any pressure.

JANE TIP: If these valves are frozen in place due to corrosion and lack of use, get some WD-40 and spray it on the threads and try to turn them with a pair of waterpump pliers. Be careful and turn them only far enough to shut the water off. If you still can't get them closed then you will have to shut it off at the main water valve (see below).

The second way would be to turn off the main water valve. This can be difficult if you live in a complex that doesn't have individual water valves in each apartment.

JANE TIP: You should have your own water shut off for your own home and most importantly, know where it is in case of a problem. If you don't, or you live in a condo or attached building, it's worth the cost to get one put in otherwise you'll have to turn off the water to the whole building any time you want to work on your plumbing.

Step 2

Disconnect the Water Supply Lines

These are the two tubes that connect your faucet to the two water valves under the sink. If your water lines look new and aren't having any problems with leaks or drips, then there is no need to replace them. If this is your scenario, disconnect them from the faucet only. Otherwise, if you feel that they need to be replaced, disconnect the lines from the shutoff valve as well as from the faucet. It's hard to know when is the right time is to change these out, so we feel that since changing out a faucet happens so rarely, you might as well change out the water supply lines now considering you are going to the trouble of replacing the faucet. We like to think of it as saving you from an extra trip under the sink later.

Step 3

Remove the faucet from the sink

How to do this—well, faucets are mounted in one of two ways: 1) Bottom mount (widespread) faucets are removed from above. For these, the handles and escutcheons must be removed to get to the nuts which secure the faucet in place. 2) Top mount (center-set) faucets are held in place by nuts located underneath the sink, and must be removed from under the sink.

JANE TIP: The easiest way to get to and loosen the nuts is by using a basin wrench. (See diagram). The real reason to use a basin wrench is it can get into spaces that are too tight for a pair of pliers.

If you are working on a newer top mount/center set faucet the basin nuts may be simple to remove with your bare hands. If the existing faucet is older, you likely need the basin wrench. Faucet manufacturers realized that having to buy a tool to put their product in makes it harder to do and less people will then do it. If you’re lucky and the nuts on your sink are flat up against the sink and you have two flanges that you can push on to turn, you won't need a basin wrench, you can just use your hand.

JANE TIP: If the sink is old and you find that the nuts are rusted or corroded in place, we suggest that you apply some oil and allow it to work into the threads before trying to remove the nuts.

Now that you've gotten the nuts off you'll be able to pull out the faucet. Much to your dismay you will probably find a fairly gross buildup left behind on the sink, in the area where the faucet plate or escutcheons were previously attached. Don't take it as a reflection on your cleaning abilities, this is normal. Tip: We find the best way to get off this residue is to make 50-50 solution of vinegar and water. This will help dissolve the buildup left behind by the old faucet. We also suggest you scrape it away with a razor blade and/or scouring pad.

Now that the messy part is over, putting in the new faucet will be a pleasure.

Step 4

Installing Your New Faucet

Image removed."/> We are going to give you two different explanations on how to do this depending on what type of faucet you are putting in.
Center-Set/Top-Mounted Faucet
Step 1: Apply a bead of plumber's putty or silicon caulk around the faucet base. Here's where all of that time spent playing with Play-Doh will come in handy. To make a "bead" of plumber's putty, you'll need to roll a long, thin snake-like piece out of it. The good news is some faucets have rubber or plastic gaskets for the base and do not require this step. Check the directions that came with the faucet to know for sure.

Step 2: Gently put the faucet in place, pressing against the putty to assure a good seal. Careful not to put too much force when you are doing this, as you can press out too much. The tailpieces should fit into the hole spacing in the sink.

Step 3: Now you'll have to go back under the sink to install the washers and mounting nuts on the tailpieces (these are pipes that stick out under the faucet on either side). Go ahead and tighten the nuts by hand.

Step 4: Straighten out the faucet to be parallel with the back of the sink. At this point, tighten the mounting nuts with an adjustable wrench or the basin wrench that we mentioned earlier. Due to the tightening of the faucet, when you come back up, you will probably notice excess putty or caulk around the faucet. Go ahead and wipe away any excess.

Widespread/Bottom-Mounted Faucet

Step 1: Line the faucet with plumber's putty and then place it in the center hole. Gently press the putty against the base, setting the spout in place. At this point you will have to go under the sink, to hand tighten the washers and mounting nuts by hand just enough to hold it in place. Don't overtighten, otherwise you won't be able to center the spout on the sink in a later step.

Step 2: Run a bead of plumber's putty along the base of the escutcheons and screw them in place. Align the faucet with the back of the sink and tighten the mounting nuts with waterpump pliers or a basin wrench.

Step 3: Now install the faucet handles over the escutcheons. The one marked hot should go on the left (at least here in the U.S.) Wipe away excess putty from around the bases.

Step 5

Hooking Up Supply Lines

If you aren't going to replace your supply lines, then just hook them back up and turn on the water. To test for leaks, place a paper towel beneath the lines. If you're going for the whole enchilada, it's not all that more difficult.

Just one thing to note when buying new supply lines—different types are available. You will find chromed copper lines are the most difficult to replace-you must buy the right length and then bend as needed to get them to fit. They may be the most attractive, but let's be honest, unless this is for a wall-mounted sink or someplace where the lines are exposed, they're not necessary. You're better off going with the flexible lines as they are great for many locations. What makes them so great? They are inexpensive, can be cut to size with a knife and are very easy to use. Braided metal supply lines are also available and tend to be very long lasting.

There are also copper supply tubes which have a rounded end that fits into the seat of the faucet's water inlets. But again, the flexible lines are most often all you'll ever need.

So, you did it! Didn't we say it was easy? Now, just break out the hand soap and have a party!

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