Like many others, due to the coronavirus I've spent the past eight weeks working from home, trying to teach my kids and staring at all of the home improvement projects I haven't had time to tackle. First up on the list: changing out an old two-handle faucet and replacing it with a fancier single-handle faucet with removable spray nozzle.
Fortunately, modern plumbing and faucet design have made changing faucets easy. It's a quick day project that makes a significant difference to the look of your space, and you can save lots of money by skipping the plumber and doing it yourself.
So, here's a full rundown on how you can do just that. Just note that the faucet I installed isn't straight out of the box (we've had it around for awhile), so your experience may vary.
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.
In with the new
There are a variety of configurations for faucets. Between the number of handles, spray nozzle types and even spacing of required holes, there are a lot of ways to customize. Before you buy a new faucet, consider your arrangement, specifically the current number and location of holes in your counter or sink. Sinks and countertops can be modified accordingly, but you'll need to do a little research prior to purchasing your new faucet.
Start by putting the bracket that fits between the counter/sink and faucet in place. These will often have a foam underlay that will form a seal to help prevent water from seeping underneath the faucet assembly. Some faucets may differ, but the faucet I installed required minimal assembly prior to installation.
Run the supply lines of the faucet assembly, followed by the threaded rods of the faucet, through the holes in your countertop or sink. Working underneath in the most comfortable position you can find (good luck), tighten the retaining nut with a wrench.
If no socket wrench was provided with the faucet, and the space is tight enough to require a basin wrench, be extra-careful not to damage the faucet's water supply lines. It depends on the configuration of your particular faucet, but if the water lines are in the way of the retaining nut It could be beneficial to wrap them with nylon tape or some other protective material before doing this. Damaging water lines could cause a leak, and all of the mayhem that comes with that. You don't want that.
Seal the deal with strong connections
Now, it's time to connect the faucet's water supply lines to the shut-off valve beneath the sink. With mine, the water lines were attached to the new faucet, but this isn't always the case. If you need to supply the water lines, it's recommended to change out hoses even if the ones you already have are compatible. If these hoses wear out and leak, you could have some trouble on your hands.
You'll want to apply a thin wrap of Teflon thread tape in a clockwise direction (the same direction you will turn the nut to tighten) around the threaded male connections to lubricate the threads, which allows for a better seal. Finger-tighten the threaded nut valve connections -- then, while holding the valve assembly with a pair of slotted pliers, finish tightening the connection with an adjustable wrench.
Slowly turn your water supply back on while checking for leaks. If the water flows normally and everything down below stays dry, then you're all set.
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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