A Home Remodel Series- Part 2 (replacing bathroom faucets)

Continuing the progress at my friend’s home remodel  http://agirlcandoit.com/2010/04/27/a-home-remodel-series-part-1-before-demo/ , they had 5 bathroom faucets to replace.  With new faucets running as inexpensive as $40 and up, this is an affordable update to make to your space style-wise.

First and most importantly,  make sure that your new faucet needs the same number of holes as your old faucet.  In other words, some sink faucets only need one hole in your counter tops whereas some others need 3 or 4.  Sometimes it might just be easier to take the old faucet with you to your local store to ensure a match.

Here are the basic steps to follow; most faucets also come with complete step by step visual/written instructions as well:

1)      Don’t give yourself a shower

Turn off the water supply under the sink cabinet.  There should be 2 shut off valves that resemble an oval or a triangle; one for the hot water and one for the cold water.  Hand tighten the valves all the way to the right (lefty loosey, righty-tighty).

Hot and cold water shut off valves

Test your accuracy by turning on both faucet handles; the water should eventually come to a complete stop once the remaining water is out of the line.

2)     Removal of old faucet

Once the water is completely and safely off, you can use a wrench to loosen the nuts of the supply lines where they each connect to the faucet.

Have a towel down in the cabinet in case there is any remaining water in the lines once you lower them away from the faucet.   Leave the supply lines in place hanging loose for the time being.  Faucets usually also come with a larger “nut” that anchors the faucet to the underside of the counter top; you can usually turn these by hand.

Push the lever that is connected to the drain stop out of the guide which is usually held in place by a clamp or a small hand tightened screw.  Once free, you should be able to simply lift the old faucet from the top.

Lever that controls the drain stopper can be loosened

3)    Plumbers Tape…the best $1 you’ll spend

At this point, I find it easier to wrap the new faucet’s water supply connection threads with plumbers tape.  Usually found in a blue dispenser with a white latex type of non-adhesive tape inside.  Wrap the threading in a clockwise pattern until the lower ½” of the new faucet connections are wrapped well in tape.  This is an exercise where less is NOT more since the tape inside the threading serves the purpose of helping to ensure a good watertight seal.

4)     Putty in your hands

Take a small amount of plumbers putty (looks like silly putty)  and roll it out into a nice even “snake like” cord.  Place the putty cord onto the bottom side of the new faucet that will meet with the counter top. Place the new faucet inside inside of the pre-existing holes of the countertop and press the faucet firmly down onto the counter top ensuring it is square and even with your sink.  The putty will help form a watertight seal between the faucet and your countertops.

5)      Out with the old, in with the new

Next, you will basically do a reserve of steps 1 and 2 above.  Secure the new faucet firmly to the counter top by spinning the provided nuts from underneath the counter until they are “hand tightened”; careful not to over-tighten because it could cause your counter top to buckle or crack.  You should not be able to wiggle the new faucet at all from the top of the counter top.  Check your alignment of the faucet to the sink one more time.

These instructions assume you will not be changing out the drain stopper, which unless you are changing metal finishes or the existing one is in bad shape, you don’t necessarily have to do this step; just reconnect the stopper lever to the new faucet.  Since drain stops and under cabinet plumbing connections can vary, it may be best to consult the new faucet’s instructions for this part of the installation.

6)     You’re hot then you’re cold

Next, attach the water supply lines to the new faucet supply lines.  Typically, Hot water is on the left and cold water is on the right so attach each of these to the appropriate spot on the new faucet from the underside.  Tighten the supply lines to the faucet using a wrench.

7)     All systems go!

Now is the time to test your work.  Slowly turn on one supply valve and watch for leaks at the connections to your new faucet from under the sink.    Repeat for the other water supply line.  If you encounter a drip, most likely it is because the new connections needs to be tightened some more.  Turn the valve off again and try to re-tighten, assuming you also used adequate plumbers tape.

A trick of the trade to be completely sure you don’t have any leaks is to use a towel to wipe all connections, then once you are sure it is dry, wrap a small amount of toilet paper around each connection.  Come back in a few minutes to see if any part of the toilet paper is wet.  If os, you’ll have to tighten some more.

Once you are leak free, your new faucet should be good to go.  Wasn’t that easy???!!!  With a few turns of a wrench and some rolling of putty, you can pat yourself on the back for a job well done!   Consider yourself saved from the frightening experience of plumber’s crack in your home.


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