Replacing a bathroom faucet might seem daunting, but the process is far simpler than you might expect. Just follow these easy steps from TOH plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey to do it successfully.
Before beginning, switch off all water supply lines by closing the valves under your sink and having a towel handy to catch any drips that might occur.
1. Remove the Faucet
Before removing a faucet, you must first turn off its source. This can be accomplished by switching off either of the two shut-off valves beneath your sink, or in older homes switching off the main water valve.
Now that the water has been turned off, you can begin working on your old faucet. First, locate and loosen any nuts that hold it to the sink; this may prove tricky due to them often being corroded or frozen in place; it may help if you spray some penetrating oil over them first before trying. Once loosed, start unbolting and dismantling the assembly using a bucket or container nearby as it will collect any potential water leakage as you loosen supply tube connections.
2. Remove the Handle
With your screwdriver, remove the single set screw that secures the handle to the faucet body. For lever-style faucets, this may be hidden under a decorative cap or hidden somewhere within its inner workings – removing this screw may involve moving parts that connect them together, as well as potentially unsightly hidden screws within its structure that hold these parts together.
Search for any gaps between the back of an escutcheon plate (or decorative cover) and the sink surface, using either a flat-head screwdriver or putty knife to insert and pry away. If there is one, inserting your tool can help dismantle it more easily.
Some faucets feature threaded bases that screw into your sink or countertop, making this type of handle harder to un-thread than most. Wrenches or pliers may help when trying to loosening it; just be careful not to completely dislodge it! For tight nut that are difficult to loosen use penetrant spray to loosen them further.
3. Remove the Cartridge
Cartridge faucets feature a round, columnar body that fits into an opening in the wall. Most cartridge faucets include a cartridge clip (also called a bonnet nut or dome cap) that holds their cartridge in place and must be removed to install new cartridges. Use a flat-blade screwdriver to dismantle this clip; otherwise take note of its exact orientation after disassembling to reinstall properly once new cartridges have been fitted into place.
Set the handle apart from the faucet body by unscrewing its setscrew or Phillips-head screw, then pulling straight up to disengage from its connection to the cartridge nut. Replace any needed brass screws on top of cartridge shaft; plumber’s grease may help secure them into place if desired.
4. Remove the Valve
Before installing the new faucet handle by hand, make sure all water shutoff valves are closed and have a bucket handy to catch any drips or spills. Center it over the hole in the sink before screwing on its mounting nut – if replacing two-handled faucet with single handle faucet installation you must also connect hot and cold feed lines to respective valves as part of this step.
Start by placing a bucket below your existing P-trap, unscrewing its slip nut from the drain, and pulling up on its tail until it clears your sink holes.
Remove any nuts that have accumulated beneath the faucet shanks (the threaded pipes that connect the supply lines). Some faucet shanks feature metal brackets while others use simple nuts and bolts.
5. Remove the Lines
To prevent mineral build-up and other debris from clogging your new faucet, turn both hot and cold water supplies on for at least one minute and run them both until both piping systems have had time to flush out and clear your sink drain hole. This will flush out your lines while simultaneously clearing your sink drain hole of any obstructions.
Before doing anything else, however, first look under the sink and close all of the shutoff valves feeding your old faucet – they typically feature football-shaped knobs or levers with rotating mechanisms that need to be secured first.
Once the valves have been closed, locate the supply tubes connecting to your faucet and loosen their nuts with a wrench (or your hands) beneath the sink. Next, remove these tubes by hand – this step may result in some residual water escaping; this is normal. This step may take some time, but it will save time from needing to climb back under later on!