Is it time for an update for your faucet? If it’s just dripping, you can usually just replace a washer or other seal. If you’d like to replace the whole thing, though, don’t worry. The procedure is pretty straightforward, especially if you have the right tools.
Look at your sink. Check to see how many openings there are and how far apart they are. You may have to look underneath to be sure. For bathroom faucets, in particular, the two handles may be a single unit with the spout or they may be spread apart from it. You will need this information to choose the correct replacement.
- Obtain a replacement faucet. You'll probably be using this faucet a long time, so it's worth investing in a good-quality faucet.
- It's possible to spend anywhere from about $20 to $500 and up on a faucet. Read reviews and decide for yourself how much of what you are paying is for quality and how much is for designer names/styling and fancy features.
Review the instructions that come with the faucet. They can range from detailed and helpful to minimal and frustrating. When in doubt, defer to the manufacturer's instructions rather than those you find elsewhere.
Consider buying a basin wrench for under $20. It's a tool designed to reach way up behind your sink and remove the two big nuts on each side of the faucet that hold the faucet tight against the sink. If you can't easily loosen the nuts by hand or with the tools you have on hand, a basin wrench can make the job easier.
Remove everything from under the sink and store it well out of your way.
Get plenty of light under your sink so you can see what you are doing up there. Arrange any portable lamp or use a drop light if you have one.
Turn off the water to the faucet. Under the sink, you will see two supply lines coming out of the wall and going up to your faucet. There should be a valve on each one, one for hot and one for cold. Turn both of these valves off by twisting them clockwise as though they were faucets.
Loosen the tube nut that's just above the valve on each tube and lift the tubes out of the valves. Water will come out of each tube now as they drain back from the faucet so you'll need a towel to soak up this water.
- It's a good idea to replace the supply lines when you replace the faucet, if they are old, especially if they were the flexible sort. If you have solid tubing, it isn't generally necessary unless it doesn't reach the new faucet. If you're not replacing the supply lines, you may only have to disconnect them at the top. A braided, stainless steel reinforced supply line will virtually eliminate the possibility of flooding from the line bursting.
Remove the large nuts that hold the faucet in place. This is where you'll want to use a basin wrench if you have one. You may have one, two, or even three nuts. Your sink may look different because they may be hard plastic, brass, or silver-colored metal. This may be the hardest part of the job, since the threads are often quite long and they may be corroded so that the nuts are difficult to turn. Hang in there! It gets easier from here.
Lift the old faucet up, tubes and all, right out of the sink.
Now, examine the tubes carefully. If they are damaged in any way, take one with you to the store where you bought the wrench and buy two, new, gray plastic tubes the same length. They come with new nuts and end fittings.
Before installing your new faucet, give the sink a good cleaning where the old faucet was mounted. You may have to scrape and scour to remove hard water deposits, although depending on the new faucet, some of the area may be covered. Try vinegar or an acid cleaner to help dissolve hard water deposits.
Check your new faucet base and see if they included a soft plastic gasket. You need something like this to seal around the base to keep water from getting under it. If not, buy some plumbers' putty. It's gray in color and is something like chewing gum. Stick a bead of it around the base before you mount the new faucet. When you tighten down those two big nuts, it will squeeze a little of this putty out but it's easy to clean up with rubbing alcohol.
Attach the new tubes to the new faucet before you install it in the sink.
Assemble the new faucet. Sometimes there is a separate flange or plate that slips over the bottom. If you want this flange installed, or if there are any additional hoses to assemble, do so now.
Slip the new faucet through the hole(s) in the sink.
Tighten the new nut(s) from below the sink, but stop when you get close.
Before you get those two big nuts tight, take a look at your new faucet, see if it is straight or angled one way or the other, then finish tightening up the nuts.
Insert the tubes into the valves under the sink and tighten up the tube nuts.
Turn on the water and check for leaks. Wait ten minutes and check for leaks again. If everything is okay, you're done; if not, tighten the fittings a little more and check for leaks again.