Out with the old

First, shut off your water. You likely have two shut-off valves under your sink, one each for the hot and cold water supply lines. Turn off the water by turning these valves clockwise. You shouldn’t need a wrench for this.

If there aren’t any valves under the sink, then you’ll need to follow the supply lines away from the faucet until you find a valve. You may end up shutting the water down at the water heater (and water heater bypass for cold), or the main valve. In this case, leave all the faucets on the lowest floor turned on to drain water from the entire system. 

After you’ve shut the water off, turn on the faucet you’re changing to make sure the water is actually shut off: If water continues to flow, you have a faulty valve. With a bucket and towel handy for any residual water, use an adjustable wrench to remove the supply lines. Stabilize the valve assembly with a pair of slotted pliers as you loosen the water line connection; this will keep the valve and line from twisting and getting damaged. 

Once the valves are disconnected, you’ll need to remove the old faucet assembly. It’s held on by one or more retaining nuts under the sink, depending on the current configuration. These are sometimes difficult to access and you may need what’s called a basin wrench. If you’re lucky, a specific socket wrench may have been provided with the faucet. Once the retaining nuts are removed, you should be able to remove the old faucet from the sink. 

With the old faucet removed, we can slide the ne

With the old faucet removed, we can slide the new one in and start working to get it connected.

Chance Lane/CNET

STEP 2: Position the faucet in the holes

Attaching the faucet to the sink is pretty easy. After the gasket or putty is in place, set the faucet into the proper holes. Position yourself under the sink, and screw on the plastic nut. If you’ve used plumber’s putty you can clear away the excess with a putty knife or use a finger.


Measure for the Supply Line

Many new faucets include supply lines, but they may not be long enough, or they may not have the right threads to connect to your shutoff valves. To determine the length of the supply lines you’ll need, measure from the underside of the sink near where the faucet connects to the shutoff valve and add a few inches. If the supply lines included with your new faucet aren’t long enough, buy extensions. To make sure the threads on your new supply lines match those on your shutoff valves, take one of your old supply lines with you to the store and match it with the new supply lines.

You May Need a Basin Wrench

A basin wrench is a standard plumbing tool that is indispensable for removing and installing most faucets. The wrench allows you to reach into the cramped area behind the sink to loosen or tighten the nuts that hold the faucet to the sink, and the nuts that connect the supply lines. You may not need a basin wrench if you can get the old faucet out by cutting the nuts or if the new faucet includes a wrench or some other means of installing the faucet without a basin wrench. Check inside the package when you buy the faucet to see what’s required. If you do need a basin wrench, you can find one at a hardware store or home center.

Attach a Kitchen Sink Sprayer

Step 1: Insert Sprayer

Apply a 1/4-inch thick bead of either plumber’s putty or silicone caulk to the base of the sprayer. Insert the end of the sprayer hose into the sink opening and press the sprayer firmly into place.

Step 2: Attach Mounting Nut

Place a washer over the tailpiece, then screw in and tighten the mounting with a basin wrench or channel-type pliers. Scrape away any extra putty from the base of the sprayer.

Step 3: Attach the Hose to the Faucet

Connect the hose to the hose nipple found on the bottom of the faucet. Use your basin wrench or channel-type pliers to tighten the screw 1/4 of a turn (remember, not too tight).

Prepare Sink

  1. Scrape away all the old, dried plumber’s putty, silicone and grime from the sink’s surface. Sometimes this requires a flexible putty knife or course cleaning pad, as the grime and sediments may have hardened after many years. It is important that the surface be clean, as the new faucet’s gasket will seal better against the sink, preventing leaks. If the sink is easily scratched, try using vinegar, instead of aggressive scrubbing, to help dissolve calcium deposits.

Final Thoughts

Replacing a faucet is a fairly easy DIY project that can take about an hour to complete. In order to make sure it doesn’t end up taking a lot longer, it’s important to make sure the new faucet requires the same number of mounting holes and that all the supplies that aren’t included with the new faucet are on hand when beginning the installation.


Installing Faucets with Separate Supply Tubing

Step 1: Insert the Faucet

Insert the new faucet into the sink’s holes. Caulk the base of the faucet with either silicone caulk or plumber’s putty, applying a bead about 1/4-inch thick. Attach the faucet to the sink, but make sure that the base is parallel to the back of the sink. Now press the faucet down firmly so that it’s tightly sealed to the sink. Scrape away any excess caulk from the surface of the faucet.

Step 2: Connect the Nuts

Use your basin wrench or channel-type pliers to connect the metal friction washers to the tailpiece. Now attach the mounting nuts.

Step 3: Attach the Tubing

Attach the supply tubes to the tailpiece, then use your basin wrench or channel-type pliers to tighten the coupling nuts.

Step 4: Connect the Water Source

Now that the supply tubing is attached to the sink, connect it to the water source at the shutoff valves using compression fittings. Tighten the mounting nuts, first by hand and then with an adjustable wrench, tightening them 1/4 of a turn to make sure they’re not too tight.

Helpful Tip

When you’re tightening the supply tubing to the valve, hold the valve with another wrench to keep it from turning.

Finish with a flush

It’s a good idea at this point to flush out your lines to get rid of any debris you may have loosened up in your water lines. To do so, remove the aerator from the faucet tip and let the water run for about a minute. Sometimes a tool is supplied with the faucet to make removing the aerator easier. If you can’t remove the aerator, remove the entire nozzle head and let the water run for a bit. 

And that’s it — you can scratch that fancy new faucet installation off of your to-do list and move on to something else. I might recommend a nice glass of water and a nap, assuming the kids cooperate.

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