NOTE: This article pertains only to deck mounted (horizontally) faucets!
Ever wake up one morning and go to the kitchen only to come to the sudden realization that that old kitchen sink faucet really does look old and ratty?
“How did that happen while I was sleeping?” you wonder. Or maybe it’s just leaking (again) and you’ve decided to put that old soldier to rest.
Either way, replacing a kitchen sink faucet can be daunting if you don’t have the experience, knowhow, mechanical ability or the proper tools. But with a little help from your professional Master Plumber, you’d be surprised what you can accomplish on your own. So let’s dig in.
We’ll tackle the tools and materials first since if you don’t have them you’ll have to throw in the towel right away. At the very least you’ll need to make an investment in some professional grade stuff to make the job doable.
Tools for Replacing the Faucet
The most important tool is the basin wrench. And I mean a GOOD basin wrench like a Ridgid model 1019 (see image below).
It’s going to set you back about 40 bucks so that’s a consideration. When you go to buy it you are going to be tempted to buy that cheap one off the shelf next to it. The pretty red one with the round handle and the silver jaws instead of the Ridgid black jawed one with the square handle. After all, you think, it’s a quarter of the price and you’re only gonna use it the one time, right? Don’t even think about it. That is unless you don’t mind the job taking 3 times as long as it should (or being impossible) and you don’t value your knuckles, your time and your ability to refrain from cursing. Completely your call, though.
Next, you’ll need a Channellocks brand #426 pliers. Don’t scrimp on these either. Once you have a pair you’ll use them ALL the time.
A small bucket like a one gallon ice cream bucket size. A razor knife or snips tool. A bright work light. Last tool is a 6-8” adjustable wrench.
For installation materials you will need plumber’s putty, possibly braided stainless supply lines (check your new faucet) and pipe joint compound.
Old Faucet Removal
So let’s remove that old cruddy faucet first. Place the work light in the cabinet. It will stay there the whole time. Use a battery light so you don’t get “juiced”. Start by making sure the shutoff valves under the sink are in the off position. No shutoff valves? Do yourself a favor and put some on. Not only is that a code in most states but if you don’t have them on there you’ll have to run to the utility room every time you need water control. So now that you have the water under control, you can disconnect the faucet supply tubes. Place the bucket under the water valve and disconnect the first supply line from the valve, pull it up and off the valve and let it drain in the bucket. Leave the faucet in the on position so that all the water drains out. Repeat this process with the 2nd supply line. Usually you won’t have to disconnect the other end of the supply line from the faucet but—-never say never.
If your faucet has a spray attachment (see image below) now’s the time to put the bucket under the hose and cut the hose off with a sharp knife or snips. Then pull the spray hose and spray head out from the top of the sink.
Now comes the best part. With your basin wrench at the ready, get on your back and squirm under the waste piping in the cabinet on your back. If it makes it easier you can remove the waste lines but you’ll want to stuff a rag in the opening and be sure you put everything back the way it was when you are done. You are now going to remove the anchor nuts (see image below) that hold the faucet and sprayer escutcheon to the sink.
There are three (usually plastic) nuts on a standard faucet setup with spray, but there are also single post faucets with only one nut. Those are usually brass and can be a real bear to remove sometimes. Persevere and you’ll succeed. Use the basin wrench (righty tighty—lefty loosey) to remove the nuts completely from the faucet shanks (see image below) and the spray head escutcheon (see image below).
You may need somebody to hold the spray escutcheon from the top side to make removal (and installation) easier. Once the nuts are off, just pull the faucet out from the top. Some models will require one more step—the removal of the supply line nuts from the faucet shank. If you can’t pull the faucet out from the top after removal of the anchor nuts, then you’ll need to remove the supply line nuts. Clean off the old residue left on the sink from under the old faucet and you are good to go.
New Faucet Selection and Installation
Now we’re ready to roll.
Choose a faucet of high quality that will last a lifetime. This operation is too time consuming and costly to “cheap out” now. Get the best faucet your budget can afford. Yes! Plumbing offers a wide variety of faucets available only to Contractors which can fit just about any budget. These faucets are also built with the professional plumber in mind, in an American Foundry so they are designed to have the correct installation systems provided with no surprises like we see with many of the local Cheapo Depot varieties. You don’t need a “What the—–“ moment when you have already removed your faucet.
First, you’ll want to prep the faucet. Find the plastic gasket (if any ) provided with the faucet (see image below).
Throw it away. Most sinks contain imperfections that this gasket will not seal causing problems with leaks under the faucet which will destroy your cabinet. Next fill the cavity under the faucet with plumber’s putty. Make sure the cavity is over filled. Next fill the cavity under the hose spray head escutcheon with putty in the same way. Press the hose escutcheon and shank through the sink hole and fasten it down with the provided nut from underneath. This is Waaaaaay easier with a helper on top to hold it in place while you are tightening from the underside.
Next take the spray hose and run it down through the spray escutcheon and “fish” it up through the center faucet hole in the sink deck from the underside. Take a little pipe joint compound and coat the beveled surface on the faucet spray hose attachment point on the faucet (see image below).
You can also dab a little on the male threads as this will lubricate it and make it easier to remove in the future should the need arise. Now with the faucet still above the sink deck, attach the spray hose to the faucet with the 426’s. This is much easier than trying to do this on your back under the sink.
Now it’s time to mount the faucet to the sink. Press the new faucet onto the sink deck in approximately the finished position. Take the anchor nuts, your supply tubes and your basin wrench under the sink and assume your position on your back. Reach up and install the anchor nuts by hand as tight as you can. Then give them a few cranks with the basin wrench. Crawl out from under there and reposition the faucet to its permanent resting place. Now get back under there and finish tightening those anchor nuts.
Next, if you faucet does not have integral supply tubes, dab the threaded faucet shanks (see image below) with some pipe joint compound just for lubrication (braided supplies do not need sealant to seal). Attach the supply tubes to the faucet shanks with your 426’s or your basin wrench, whichever you find to be more comfortable.
Now you can attach the business end of the supply tube to the valve. Be careful not to cross thread these connections as they are a very fine compression thread and these are easy to cross thread. If you do cross thread them you will have to replace the valve and supply tube. NEVER use pipe joint compound on the threads of a faucet shutoff valve or supply tube unless it is an IPS connection (regular pipe thread). Once this is done, making sure the faucet is in the “off” position on both hot and cold sides, remove the aerator from the faucet spout. One at a time, turn the hot then cold shutoff valve on. Turn the faucet on, first hot and then cold to flush any debris out of the faucet which may have been introduced during the process. (With galvanized lines, ALWAYS flush the lines into a bucket under the sink BEFORE hooking up to the faucet). Reinstall the aerator and check for leaks under the sink.
Always check both waste and water lines for leaks since you may have inadvertently bumped something while working.
And of course, Yes! Plumbing is here to help with plumbing any time you need us. We answer the phones with live operators 24/7 so we can address your issue right away. (Sorry, our operators are not Master Plumbers, but they can get one to your door if you like).
Call us to speak with a live agent (not an answering machine).