Our old bathroom sink was past its prime (that seems to be the theme of this blog). The knobs were difficult to turn off, so often when kids couldn’t turn off the water, they’d just leave it running. And I’d find it still running…eventually. Time for a new faucet.
Actually, something pretty cool that the previous owners of our house did was to write on the bottom of the sink the date when the faucet was replaced. It was changed out in 1972 and again in 1984. So our faucet was 23 years old. No wonder the knobs were sticking.
Replacing a faucet is a fairly simple DIY plumbing job, like replacing a leaky valve in a toilet. But with any home project, do your research and call a professional if you’re unsure about anything.
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Choosing the Right Bathroom Faucet
There are many posts on the internet about choosing the right style of faucet to match the decor of your bathroom. This isn’t one of them. This is more practical. You need to buy a faucet that will fit on your sink.
Sinks come with precut holes for the faucet, so whether you’re installing a new sink or just replacing an old faucet, you need to be sure your new faucet will fit on your sink. We installed a faucet in our kitchen that was just barely too big for the hole in the sink. It was a huge pain to enlarge the faucet hole, even just a little. I can’t imagine what it would take to add new hole. Yes, I’m sure you could hire someone to do it. But save money, just buy a faucet that fits.
The first thing I did in replacing our sink, was to climb under the cabinet and measure what size and type of faucet we needed.
Our sink has three holes (although only the two for the hot and cold were needed for the old faucet). The outside holes are 4 inches apart. The 4 inches is measured from the center of one hole to the center of the other hole.
I like having two handles instead of one, but I am done with knobs. We’re going to have kids in our home for many more years, and I don’t want the faucet left running because someone couldn’t turn the handle all the way off. I want a faucet with levers.
Compare Bathroom Faucets
I really like FaucetDirect.com’s website because you can select options to only show faucets that will fit your sink and your style. Then you can choose a few that you really like and compare them.
I chose a Chrome Double Handle Centerset Bathroom Faucet by Moen for our bathroom. It’s simple and modern, but works well in a mid century bathroom.
Removing an old Faucet
Getting rid of an old faucet isn’t hard, but it does make me wish I had more arm strength.
Age and corrosion can make the parts stick, so be prepared for a workout if you have a really old faucet. The only tools I needed were an adjustable wrench and some vise grips. And safety goggles–there will be stuff falling on your face.
1. Turn Off the Water
Luckily, for this project you don’t have to turn off the water to the whole house, like we did with our sprinkler system. You just need to shut off the hot and cold water under your sink. There are two pipes coming out of the wall below your sink with valves on them, one for hot water and one for cold water. Turn both valves all the way to the right. Then turn your faucet on to make sure the valves are completely closed and no water comes out.
I had a bucket to catch water below the pipes the entire time I was replacing the faucet. Even though the water is turned off, there is still some water left in all of the pipes. It seems like with plumbing there is always water to clean up, so I also have a rag to wipe up any stray water.
2. Remove the Water Supply Lines
Next, you need to disconnect the faucet from the water supply. Those two valves you turned off have flexible pipes that attach to the bottom of the faucet with a large nut. Unscrew the nut until it comes completely off the faucet.
This was the hardest part of the whole process for me. The faucet is old, and there isn’t much space to fit the wrench up by the faucet. There’s a sink in the way. WD-40 helped, but be prepared to spend some time laying down under your sink.
3. Remove the Mounting Nuts
Once the water supply is off, there are large plastic nuts that hold the faucet onto the sink. Unscrew and remove those. Again, if they’re old, they are going to stick. This was where the vise grips helped.
4. Remove the Faucet
There will probably be some hard water stains or left over putty to remove from the sink, so clean that up. If you need to scrape, use a plastic scraper so you don’t scratch your sink.
Installing a New Faucet
Install your new faucet with the same four steps it took to remove the old faucet, just in reverse. Here’s our brand new faucet, just out of the package from FaucetDirect.com.
1. Place the Faucet in the Sink Holes
There should be a gasket either with the faucet or already attached to the faucet. This rubbery foam pieces just slides onto the bottom of the faucet and seals it to the sink. (Sorry, I didn’t get a picture of ours!)
2. Add the Mounting Nuts
3. Attach the Water Supply Lines
Reconnect the water lines, making sure that the hot water line goes to the hot side of the faucet and the cold line attaches to its side. Tighten the nuts with a wrench. You don’t want any water dripping out of a loose nut and causing water damage in your cabinet.
4. Turn on the Water
This is the moment of truth where you find out if you connected everything correctly. Turn on the hot and cold water valves and check for leaks. Wipe everything down with a dry rag, wait a few minutes, and then check if everything is still dry. If anything leak, whether it’s a slow leak or spraying water, turn the water valves back off and tighten or reattach the water supply lines to the faucet.
Actually, there is one final step you need to do to clean out your new faucet, in case any dirt or debris got into the water while you were installing it or removing the old faucet. Take off the aerator and run the water, both hot and cold, for a minute or two.
The aerator is the little piece on the end of the faucet that adds air to your water. Aerating the water makes it feel like you have more water pressure, which saves water and energy. It also prevents splashing when the water hits the sink. You can even purchase an aerator that adds more air and allows less water through if you want to conserve even more water. Our water company in Albuquerque, NM gave them away for free.
I love our new faucet, it turns on and off easily. It looks new and modern and clean. And best of all, it was easy to install the new faucet by myself with just a couple of tools.