Learn how to upgrade your kitchen sink with a new faucet
Upgrading your faucet is an affordable way to improve the convenience and functionality of your kitchen.
This guide will show you how to remove your old kitchen faucet, the basics of faucets and how the number of holes and the spread in your kitchen sink or countertop will determine the type you can install.
WHAT YOU NEED FOR THIS PROJECT
• Since much of the job will be done on your back, a pillow will make the work easier to bear. Having a flashlight handy may also be helpful, along with a shallow pan and a couple of old towels standing by to catch any water. You should wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from falling debris.
• Clear out all of the products and supplies under the sink.
• If you have an electrical outlet beneath your sink, turn off power to it before you remove the old faucet.
• Reach in underneath the cabinet and shut off the hot and cold water supply valves by turning them clockwise. If you don’t have stop valves already installed, you’ll need to turn off the water to the entire house.
• If you have difficulty, try using a rag or a pair of pliers to improve your grip.
• With the water turned off, open up the faucet handles to relieve any pressure in the lines.
• To remove the old faucet, you’ll first need to go under the sink and disconnect the supply lines that run from the faucet down to the hot and cold valves. Each supply line is connected to the corresponding valve by a threaded nut.
• Use an adjustable wrench to remove each nut by turning it counterclockwise. As you do, make sure you stabilize the water pipe while you loosen the supply lines to prevent compromising the connections behind the cabinets.
Once you’ve disconnected the water supply line on one side, repeat the process for the other side.
• If the valve drips even though the handle is turned completely off, it means you have a faulty valve. You’ll need to turn off the water to the entire house to replace it.
• You’ll need to take out the old supply line connections to your faucet before you can remove it.
• On this two handle centerset faucet, the two water supply lines are connected directly to the hot and cold valves. Because the mounting nuts securing the faucet are installed first, you’ll need to unscrew the supply line connections before you can remove them.
• For a single handle faucet, all of your water connections will be part of the spout assembly, since there are no hot and cold handles. On faucets like this where the supply lines are built into faucet, any mounting hardware is made to slide directly over the lines.
• Some faucets also have diverters with a separate supply line that connects between the spout and a side sprayer. You’ll need to disengage this connection before you can remove the faucet and sprayer.
One of the difficulties in taking out the old faucet is reaching up into this tight space and gaining enough leverage to remove the connections.
There are a couple of tools that will make this job easier:
• A basin wrench contains a ratcheting head with teeth designed to grip hard-to-reach retaining nuts behind the sink. The handle pivots 90 degrees allowing you to turn it from below.
• The Model 2006 Faucet and Sink Installer is a multipurpose tool designed for several under-the-sink applications.
• After unscrewing the nuts connecting the supply lines to the hot and cold valves, use the basin wrench to take off the nut connecting the diverter to the sprayer hose. If you’re positive you won’t be using the old faucet again, you can cut the line with a pipe or tubing cutter.
• Once you’ve disconnected all of the water lines under the sink, you’re ready to remove the mounting hardware.
Tip: If any nuts or mounting hardware are rusted or difficult to remove, apply a penetrating oil like PB Blaster to loosen. Give it time to soak in, and you may need more than one application.
• The old faucet will be connected to the underside of the cabinet by some type of mounting hardware. A single handle faucet will typically have the mounting hardware connected to a single shank that contains the hot and cold supply lines.
• For a two handle centerset faucet, the mounts will usually be found on the hot and cold valve bodies. You’ll need to remove all of the mounting hardware in order to remove the faucet.
• With the mounting hardware removed, the faucet should lift out. You may need to apply pressure to break any caulk seal.
• When you’re finished, clean the area around the sink with an approved cleaner before installing your new faucet.
• The number and placement of the holes in your countertop or drop-in sink will determine the type of faucet you can put in. You may have anywhere from one to four holes. The fourth hole is typically used for a sprayer or soap dispenser.
• The distance between the holes is called the spread, and you can determine your spread by measuring between the centers of the three main holes.
• An 8-inch spread on center is the most common, and is necessary to fit most centerset faucets.
• A centerset faucet is any one where the handles and spout are all part of one single unit. A two handle centerset has separate hot and cold handles that are connected to the base. These fit cleanly into the outside holes.
• A single handle centerset faucet has the handle connected directly to the spout. You can either mount it directly to the countertop for a one-hole installation, or use an escutcheon plate (also called a deckplate) that will cover up the two outside holes.
• Another option is a widespread faucet, where the handles and the faucet are separate individual units. These can be installed with any spread.
• Finally, if you’d like a sprayer, but you don't have enough holes in your countertop, you might consider a pull-out sprayer. These are part of the spout, and they’ll pull out and retract as needed.
• For this project, we’re installing a two handle centerset faucet with an escutcheon plate (also called a deckplate).
• The deckplate slides over the underside of the faucet body. This helps keep moisture from getting between the countertop and the faucet. Other faucets may have a rubber gasket or something that performs a similar function.
• If your faucet requires sealant, apply a quarter-inch bead of plumber's putty around the base of the faucet.
• Before you set the faucet into the holes, all the undercarriage components must be assembled correctly.
• This faucet also has a diverter, which connects to a side sprayer. You will only have this feature if you purchase a faucet with a sprayer option. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for the proper assembly of your new faucet.
• For most two handle centerset faucets, the anchoring nuts will go on the underside of the hot and cold valves, but your faucet may install differently so consult your owner’s manual before proceeding.
• Some faucets will have different mounting hardware, and some manufacturers may have additional hardware for thin decks.
• Screw the anchoring nuts onto the threaded valves, and tighten them all the way up against the underside of the countertop or drop-in sink.
• Before tightening the nuts down completely, have someone help you make sure the faucet is lined up properly behind the sink.
• Hand tighten only, and take care not to crack the surface.
• A two handle faucet will typically have a threaded shank coming out of each of the hot and cold valves. These are usually half-inch threads, and you’ll need to connect a flexible supply line to each one.
• On this centerset faucet, the water lines connecting the valves to the spout are built into the faucet itself. But on other types of faucets like a widespread, the connections between the valves and spout are handled below.
• If your unit does not come with built-in supply lines, make sure you purchase the correct sized flexible supply lines to fit your particular configuration.
• Take a small strip of Teflon tape and wrap it clockwise around the threads. This acts as a lubricant allowing you to make a tighter connection.
• Screw the nut on by hand, and then tighten it down as much as you can with a wrench. Do the same step for the other side.
• Now, connect each of the supply lines to the corresponding water supply valve. This is typically a 3/8-inch fitting in most homes.
• Wrap the threads of each valve with a strip of Teflon tape, again wrapping it clockwise around the threads.
• Screw on each nut by hand and tighten it down with an adjustable wrench. As you do, make sure you secure the pipe for the water supply valve running into the wall so you don’t damage any connections.
• Once you’ve finished one side, repeat this process for the other side.
• Many faucet styles are sold with or without a side sprayer option. If you wish to install a separate sprayer in a fourth outside hole, you’ll need to purchase a faucet that has that feature.
• If your sprayer base requires sealant, apply a quarter-inch bead of plumber's putty.
• With the rubber gasket placed onto the shank, insert the sprayer hose guide into the fourth outside hole.
• From below, screw the connecting nut onto the shank and up against the underside of the countertop. You may need to have someone hold it from above as you tighten it down.
• Feed the sprayer hose down through the hose guide. One end of the hose should already be attached to the sprayer head.
• Under the sink, connect the other end of the hose to the faucet’s diverter.
• This is the valve on the underside of the spout assembly. Many connections will just snap or slide into place. This faucet has a quick connect feature that attaches the end of the hose to the diverter. Your sprayer may attach differently, so consult your owner’s manual for complete instructions.
• With the water supply lines connected, turn the water back on at the hot and cold valves.
• Test out the operation of your faucet and sprayer. Then, carefully check to make sure there are no leaks.
• If you detect a slight drip, use a wrench to tighten the connections until the leak stops, but do not over-tighten.
• If you’re still having difficulty, turn off the water, unscrew the nut and add another layer of Teflon tape to the threads. Reattach the supply line, tighten it down, and turn the water back on. Make sure your connections are leak-free before proceeding.
• Once you’ve installed your new faucet, it’s a good idea to flush it out to remove any debris that may have accumulated in the lines.
• Unscrew the aerator from the shaft of the faucet. There may be a tool for this that comes with your faucet, or you may be able to do it by hand.
• With the aerator removed, turn the handle on full blast and let it run for about a minute.
• Then, shut off the water and replace the aerator.
• Regular cleaning and maintenance of your faucet will help give you worry-free use for years to come.