Kitchen and bathroom sinks often outlast their faucets. The daily wear and tear on a faucet is harsh. It is turned on and off several times every day, yet it has to hold back the high levels of municipal water pressure and never leak a drop. Routine daily cleaning wears the finish, and that faucet that was once shiny and new becomes an eyesore. Most people possess the skills necessary to replace a faucet.
Step One: Inspection
Before proceeding with replacing a faucet, it is necessary to inspect things. Clear out the area under the sink. Use a flashlight to look around. Look to see if the faucet is connected to metal or plastic pipes. Check for any leaks. Look for heavy corrosion on parts that must be loosened. Parts that are heavily corroded require extra force to break them free. This extra force applied with a wrench can break a solder joint or plastic fitting.
If things look normal, acquire a basin wrench. A basin wrench is a long tool that makes it easier to reach up to the fittings that hold a faucet to a sink. They are inexpensive and should be available at most places where faucets are sold. Additionally, an adjustable (Crescent) wrench may be needed.
Step Two: Shut off the Water
Use the shut off valves under the sink. If they are not present, it may be necessary to shut off the water supply at a valve in the basement, under the sink. In rare instances, it may be necessary to shut off the main water valve to the house. Check to be certain water is completely off at the faucet.
Step Three: Remove the Old Faucet
It may seem easier to get the new faucet first. However, many who are replacing a faucet for the first time find it easier to remove the old faucet first. This allows them to be able to bring the old faucet to the home supply store to get a replacement that is guaranteed to fit.
There should be two small pipes that descend from the faucet to the water pipes. They should be made of flexible plastic or a metal cloth covered tubing. There will be a nut on each end. The hot water pipe should be on the left and the cold on the right. If the connecting pipes are crossed, take the time to mark them H for hot and C for cold.
Using the basin wrench, loosen the nut for the cold water side and the hot water side at the faucet. If the connecting pipes look as if they need replaced, it is easier to just disconnect them at the shut off valve.
Once the connecting pipes have been disconnected, use the basin wrench to loosen the nuts up underneath the base of the sink that hold the faucet tight to the sink. Plastic nuts usually have tabs to remove them by hand. However, they are often too tight and need to be removed using the basin wrench. If there is a sprayer, it must be disconnected.
Step Four: Preparing to Install New Faucet
Use a roll of plumber's putty about the thickness of a pencil all around the base of the new faucet. Plumber's putty seals the underneath of the faucet against water intrusion. Wipe away excess putty with your finger.
Metal to metal threads should be wrapped with Teflon tape. Instructions often suggest to not use Teflon tape when plastic threads are connected to metal threads. Heed the written instructions that come with parts. Both Teflon tape and plumber's putty are inexpensive and should be available where you bought the new faucet.
Step Five: Installing the New Faucet
Put things back in reverse order. Put the faucet down into the holes in the sink. Apply the nuts that hold it in place. Tighten them just a little. Check alignment of the faucet and then tighten them snug. Do not over tighten anything. Teflon tape should be applied to metal threads before you begin installation. Reconnect the connecting pipes. Tighten them tightly by hand, then snugly with a wrench. There is no need to bear down when tightening.
Step Six: Turn Water Back On
This is best done using a partner. Turn the water back on slowly while checking for leaks. If there are no damaged parts or crossed threads, things should be fine. If a small drop of water appears at connections, tighten them just a little. Barring damaged parts, there should be no leaks. Enjoy your new faucet!