It’s Saturday morning: you get up, head to the kitchen, turn on the faucet, and WHOOSH—the faucet has finally given out. If you don’t want to pay weekend plumber fees, you need to learn how to replace it – and fast!
While this is a basic skill for most professional plumbers – and even an experienced DIY-er – it may be something that you’ve never considered doing yourself. Luckily, it is fairly straightforward.
The Four Types of Faucets
There are essentially four types of kitchen faucets manufactured for home use: ball, cartridge, disc, and compression. Due to their high failure rate, few compression faucets are still being made for kitchens, so we’ll just mention them here and focus on the other three.
- Ball: Ball faucets are commonly installed in kitchens since they typically only require a single hole in the sink or countertop. They feature a single handle which manipulates a ball inside the stem of the faucet that mixes the hot and cold water and then allows the flow of water through to the faucet discharge. Over time, the O-rings and ball inside can wear out and cause the faucet to lose efficiency, but don’t fret. You can usually replace these inexpensive parts, which saves you the expense of replacing the entire faucet.
- Cartridge: Featuring two handles, these are arguably the second most common faucets installed in a standard kitchen sink. The two handles tie into a mixing valve before entering the faucet head, so the water mixes to a consistent temperature before leaving the faucet. Cartridge faucets are nearly identical to the older, compression-style faucets, but in cartridge faucets, you can turn the water on or off in a quarter or half turn, whereas the old, compression-style faucets would require multiple full turns to shut off the water flow (think of how you turn on the spigot outside).
- Disc: This is the newest style of the available faucet types. It features the ability to turn the water on and off with a raising or lowering of the handle while controlling the temperature by moving the handle to the left or right. This all-in-one design is made possible by dual ceramic discs that sit inside of the faucet body.
Kitchen faucet demolition and installation is a moderately easy job, and most homeowners can do it without too much difficulty. The cost will vary based on what faucet you purchase and whether or not you are willing to invest in the tools to do the job quickly and with ease.
One of the best tools on the market for the homeowner dealing with occasional installation concerns is the Ridgid EZ Change Faucet tool. Ringing in at around $20, this tool is worth its weight in gold because it has several different features that make installing a faucet significantly easier and faster. While other tools look similar, this one is very well designed and easy to use.
The first step is to remove the existing faucet. If you have the faucet tool, this is a reasonably straightforward process, but regardless, start by turning off the water supply to the faucet by rotating the supply line heads clockwise. Be careful not to overtighten, since that can break the valve and put your whole house at risk of entering the splash zone.
Next, remove the supply lines at the bottom of the faucet body. Use the EZ change faucet tool or a basin wrench, and turn counterclockwise to loosen the threads.
After you have disconnected the supply lines from the existing faucet body, there is typically a threaded faucet washer or wingnut holding the faucet body to the sink or countertop. If you see that, remove it, also.
Once you’ve loosened the faucet from the sink or countertop, you should be able to remove completely without much effort. If you’re planning on keeping the faucet, set it aside; otherwise, you can discard it.
New Faucet Installation
The installation process is essentially the same process as demolition but in reverse. Be sure to check the new faucet for any additional installation instructions, as some faucets may require you to do things like flush them with water before use, use extra Teflon tape, etc. It is vital that you read the new faucet installation instructions to make sure that there are no additional steps beyond what we mention in this blog.
Once you’ve read the instructions, it’s time to set the new faucet. If it is a single-hole mount, then a single screw or wingnut setup typically holds it in place. Using a screwdriver, gently thread the mounting bracket to the bottom of the faucet assembly, and then use the wingnut to tighten the bracket into place.
If it’s a multiple-hole faucet – such as a cartridge faucet – then follow the mounting instructions. Unlike the single screw or wingnut in the single-hole mount, a multiple-hold mount usually has a retaining washer threaded into the bottom of each handle. You will need to tighten these down and then tighten the washers into place.
After the faucet is mounted, re-attach the supply lines to the bottom of the faucet body, making sure to put the hot and cold water lines back into the same position they were in before demo. Finally, tighten down the supply lines with your faucet tool or basin wrench, again being careful not to overtighten.
At this point, everything should be connected and in its proper place. Check to make sure that the faucet is firmly in place, and “turn on” the faucet. If nothing is dripping out of it, that’s a good thing. Now, go back underneath the sink and slowly open up the water supply lines. It’s important to open up the faucet before opening up the supply lines to make sure that no air builds up behind the faucet assembly, which can cause water hammer.
If everything is flowing as it should, close the faucet and shut off the water. Check underneath the sink to make sure that there are no leaks where the water supply lines meet the faucet body. If everything is dry, then you have just performed your first faucet swap. Congratulations!
When It’s All Said and Done
After everything is done, be sure to clean up your workspace and double-check for leaks after an hour or so. If there are no leaks present, go ahead and close up the sink cabinet and stow your tools for your next faucet installation adventure.
If you run into trouble or simply feel nervous about trying the home-fix in the first place, don’t hesitate to call in a certified plumbing company from the Salt Lake City area. They have years of experience and can help you get things operational in no time.