How To Fix A Faucet

How to fix a faucet! Replacing that old worn or outdated kitchen or bathroom is easier than you may think. If you have never performed a home project before, then this is a great place to start.

Isn't it about time you did something about that old kitchen faucet--the one that goes drip in the night or leaks a constant stream of water? But before you rush to the phone and call in the plumber, consider doing it yourself. Replacing a faucet is not difficult and even if you have never attempted anything like this before, should usually take no more than about an hour. The procedure to replace a faucet, whether in the kitchen or in your bathroom, is very similar, so this "how-to" serves for both types.

Faucets are available in a wide range of prices and styles. They range from very inexpensive, mostly plastic models to high quality brass units. It goes without saying that if you can afford it, you're always better off to buy a better quality, brand-name faucet. You'll get better service and the better brand washerless faucets carry lifetime warranties, so if the time ever comes that the faucet starts to leak, it is replaced free of charge.

Faucets come in one of two basic types--top mount and bottom mount (widespread faucet). Most faucets which are installed by you, the homeowner will fall into the top mount category.

Before we even begin, let's first make sure we have the right tools for the project:

Basin wrench Waterpump or groove-joint pliers Adjustable wrench

Faucet (don't laugh, it has been left behind before) Supply lines

Plumber's putty or silicon caulk Teflon tape Flashlight

The most difficult part of replacing a faucet is removing the old one. Once the old stuff is out of the way, your nice new faucet should go in easily.

Step 1: Shut off the water. I know this sounds like stating the obvious, but you would bee surprised if you knew how many people over look this step. Simply put, if you miss this step, you're going to get wet, and you'll end up doing cleanup as the second step instead of the last. There are two way you can do this. Turn off the main water valve, or the most common method, turn off the two valves immediately under the faucet you are replacing. Then, open the faucet and allow it to drain and release any pressure.

Step 2: Disconnect the water supply lines. If you choose not to replace the lines, disconnect them from the faucet only. If you choose to replace them, disconnect the lines from the shutoff valve. Actually, you might as well change them now since you are going to the trouble of replacing the faucet. It could save you an extra trip under the sink later on down the road.

Step 3: Remove the faucet from the sink. Basically, faucets are mounted in one of two ways--Bottom mount 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. Top mount faucets are held in place by nuts located underneath the sink, and must therefore be removed from below. The nuts may be loosened using waterpump pliers or a special basin wrench. The basin wrench is necessary when the area in which the nut is located is too tight to allow the use of pliers.

If it is an old sink and the nuts are rusted or corroded in place, apply penetrating oil and allow it to work into the threads before trying to remove the nuts.

Once the faucet has been removed, a build-up may be present on the sink in the area where the faucet plate or escutcheons were attached. Clean it off to make ready for the new faucet. What works best is a 50-50 solution of vinegar and water. This solution will help dissolve the buildup. Scrape it away with a razor blade and/or scouring pad.

Installing a New Faucet

Now that the dirty part of the job is out of the way, here comes the fun part of the project, putting the new faucet in place.

Top-mounted Faucet:

Step 1: Apply a bead of plumber's putty or silicon caulk around the perimeter of the faucet base. Some faucets have rubber or plastic gaskets for the base and do not require this step.

Step 2: Ease the faucet into place, pressing against the putty to assure a good seal.

Step 3: Under the sink, install the washers and mounting nuts on the tailpieces, tightening the nuts by hand.

Step 4: Align the faucet with the back of the sink and tighten the mounting nuts with waterpump pliers, adjustable wrench or a basin wrench. Wipe away excess putty or caulk from around the base.

Bottom-mounted Faucet:

Step 1: From under the sink, hold the faucet in place.

Step 2: Install the washers and mounting nuts, tightening the nuts by hand. Align the faucet with the back of the sink and tighten the mounting nuts with waterpump pliers or a wrench.

Step 3: Run a bead of plumber's putty along the base of the escutcheons (this is the decorative plate) and screw them in place.

Step 4: Install the faucet handles. The one marked hot should go on the left. Wipe away excess putty from around the base of the escutcheons.

Hooking Up Supply Lines

If you have chosen not to replace your supply lines, you simply hook them back up and turn on the water. If you have chosen to use new lines, your job is not much more difficult.

Different types of supply lines are available. Chromed copper lines are the most difficult to replace, but are the most attractive -- you must buy the right length and then bend them as necessary to make them work.

PB (polybutylene) lines are allowed in many locations. They are flexible, inexpensive, can be cut to size with a knife, and are very easy to use.

Copper and PB supply tubes have a rounded end that fits into the seat of the faucet's water inlets. When the coupling nut is tightened, the end seals itself against the seat. The supply tubes are connected with the included compression fittings to the shutoff valve.

Attaching a Sink Sprayer

If you are installing a kitchen sink, you may also want to attach a kitchen sprayer. The process is quite easy.

Step 1: Apply a bead of plumber's putty to the base of the sprayer holder. Insert the holder into the hole and tighten it in place with the mounting nut. Wipe away any excess plumber's putty from around the base of the holder.

Step 2: Insert the supply tube of the sprayer through the holder from the top. The sprayer will sit in place in the holder.

Step 3: Under the sink, screw the sprayer supply hose to the hose nipple on the bottom of the faucet. Tighten the nut with a wrench or waterpump pliers.

Installing a Pop-up Drain

You may be installing a lavatory faucet with a pop-up drain assembly. This is a simple procedure, but since this drain can be either plastic or metal, and because the individual components of these assemblies may vary by model, follow the step-by-step illustrated instructions included with your faucet.

Helpful hint:

After your faucet is installed, remove the aerator and flush your lines to remove any debris that may have accumulated. Replace the aerator and enjoy your new faucet.

That's it, about the only thing left to do is to stand back and admire your work. It was easy and you have saved money. Oh, and by the way, when friends come to visit a little immodesty when you show them your handiwork is allowed.

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