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How to Replace your Kitchen Faucet

Written By:
R. Dodge Woodson

Can I Really Replace My Own Kitchen Faucet? If you have moderate mechanical ability and the right tools, you can certainly replace your old kitchen faucet with a new one. The one special tool you need is a basin wrench. This allows you to reach the mounting nuts and supply nuts. Without a basin wrench the job is miserable.

Hardware stores usually sell cheap basin wrenches for less than $20. Other tools that come in handy are adjustable wrenches and water-pump pliers. A tubing cutter or a hacksaw may be needed in some cases. Some type of light, such as a flashlight, will come in handy when replacing the faucet. You should also obtain some stainless plumber’s putty and some pipe-thread sealant when you are at the store. It never hurts to pick up a couple of supply tubes in the event that your existing supplies don’t fit the new faucet. Ask for ferrules to use on the supply tubes for compression connections.

Now that you have an idea of what you will need for a typical faucet replacement, let’s run through the procedure. I strongly suggest you wear a pair of goggles or safety glasses when removing your old faucet. It is common for rust to fall from the underside of the faucet and fill your face with nasty brown particles. You don’t want the particles in your eyes.

Your sink should have two cut-off valves under it. If not, don’t start the faucet replacement until you find the cut-offs. Turn on the old faucet to confirm that the water is off. Lie under the sink and use the basin wrench to loosen the nuts that hold the supply tubes to the faucet. Then loosen the mounting nuts. Left is loose—right is tight. If the old faucet has a spray attachment, cut the hose. Remove the old faucet. You are left with the holes in your sink and the supply tubes waiting for the new faucet.

Read the installation instructions for your new faucet. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for you new faucet. In the meantime, I’ll give you a quick rundown of what you’ll be doing. Most faucets are shipped with a rubber gasket that fits between the faucet and the top of the sink. If this isn’t the case, use stainless putty to seal the edges of the faucet. This is done by rolling the putty in your hand until you have enough to lay it along the outline of the faucet.

Place the faucet through the mounting holes and install the washers and mounting nuts. Check the faucet to make sure that it is in proper alignment before final tightening. Ideally, the existing supply tubes will fit right into the faucet receptors. When this is the case, you set the supply tubes, tighten the supply nuts, and turn on the water at the cut-off valves to see if you have any leaks.

If everything stays dry under the sink, remove the screw-on aerator from the faucet. This is the piece on the spout that water comes out of. You remove this to avoid getting debris in it when you first turn the faucet on. Turn the faucet on and see if all is working well. Once the water is running properly, turn it off and reinstall the aerator into the faucet.

If the supply tubes are too long or too short, replace them with the spare supply tubes that you bought. They are cheap and make for good insurance. You will have to use the new ferrules to make your compression connection on the supply cut-offs. Loosen the nuts that hold the supply tubes into the cut-off valves and lift them out. Cut the supply tube to recover the nuts. Slide the nuts on the new supply tubes and then slide the ferrules over the supply tubes. Cut the tubes to a proper length and place them in the cut-off valve. Slide the ferrule down to the cut-off and secure the connection with the supply nut.

Replacing a faucet is not a big job when everything goes right. The key factor is to make sure that you have the water cut off before you disturb any plumbing. Stay dry, and enjoy your new faucet.

R. Dodge Woodson is a master plumber of over 30 years. He has written over 90 books dealing with many subjects, including plumbing.