Don’t let your kitchen sink to a new low in looks. Get a quick handle on the problem by replacing the old faucet!
There’s a dirty little secret to replacing a kitchen faucet that no one (i.e., book authors, online plumbers, and do-it-yourself Web sites) wants to tell you and we know why, because when you find out you’ll scream, “For-get it!” But we’ve always been upfront and honest with you, so here goes . . . you have to remove the garbage disposal first.
There, it’s out in the open now.
Hold on, sister—if we tell you it can be done, then it can be done. So, let’s do this, okay?
Buying a Kitchen Sink Faucet
Replacing a kitchen sink faucet is a job that you want to do only once, and if you buy the right type of faucet, that’s what will happen. Style is relative—it’s what’s inside that really counts (sounds like something Mom would say). The most durable faucet is one that has a disk assembly (a.k.a. its innards) A disk faucet costs more, but it typically comes with a very good warranty, so it pays to sink (hee-hee) some money into a high-quality faucet.
A lever handle is the most popular and practical style of faucet to have in a kitchen because it allows you to be hands-free, if necessary. In fact, you can turn it on and off by just flipping the lever up and down with your elbow, which is a bonus when you’ve been making meatloaf. And if you suffer with arthritis, a lever is optimal because you don’t have to grip it.
When buying a replacement faucet, you need to know the spacing distance of the existing faucet. In other words, how many holes does the sink have for the faucet, and how far apart are the
holes? Sinks will have either one hole (a faucet with a lever handle) or three holes (one for the faucet and one for each handle). The holes for the handles are each typically either 4 inches or 8 inches from the faucet. You may think that your sink has one hole, but the escutcheon (a.k.a. base plate) may be covering the other two. So, if you’re not sure, stick your head underneath the sink and look to see how many holes exist.
Also, be sure that the new faucet’s escutcheon is the right length to cover the holes that you need it to cover. We recommend that you measure the existing escutcheon and bring a tape measure with you to the store to measure the new one. And if the new faucet’s escutcheon won’t cover all the holes, then purchase matching blank plugs.
Regarding a sink sprayer: if you have one, then you know that a hole exists for it. If you don’t have a sink sprayer, look on the sink near the faucet to see if there’s a blank plug. If so, you can pop it out and use that hole for the sprayer. And if not, then you can purchase a faucet that has a sprayer in its head.
And one last thing to consider . . . since you’ll be removing the p-trap and the garbage disposal, think about buying replacements now, if necessary.
Before doing anything, remove the new faucet and parts from the box, make sure that everything is accounted for, and read the manufacturer’s directions. It’s important to note that some manufacturers’ list of “tools and materials” is for all their faucets, so don’t panic if some items aren’t really needed. That’s why we’re here.
Place a folded towel on the floor in front of the sink so you can kneel on it.
Remove everything from underneath the sink and put it away from where you’ll be working, because you’ll need as much space as possible for this project.
Lay a towel inside the cabinet to catch any drips and place a stand-alone flashlight near the sink to provide extra light—even if you’re doing this during the day.
Shutting Off the Water
Reach behind the garbage disposal and p-trap and turn off the water at the two shutoff valves (hot and cold). If the shutoffs are not there, then turn off the water at the main water valve.
Turning off water at shutoff valves
Turn on the faucet to release any remaining water or pressure that may be in the water lines.
Removing the P-Trap and Garbage Disposal
Place the small, shallow bucket under the p-trap. If the p-trap is white, then it’s made of plastic, which means you can probably remove the nuts with your fingers. If the p-trap is metal, then place the plumber’s wrench on the nut and turn it counterclockwise. If it doesn’t budge spray WD-40 on all the nuts and wait about 15 seconds before trying again. Once the nuts are loosened, remove the p-trap and dump the contents into the bucket. Place the p-trap on the towel. Be warned that it may smell, as in stink.
Remove the garbage disposal.
Removing the Water Lines
Note: If your new faucet came with water supply lines preattached, you can skip ahead with the instructions.
Use the basin wrench to loosen the coupling nuts at the top of the supply lines directly under the sink. You may find that it works best to lie on your back to get a better angle. If so, place a bath mat inside the cabinet for your back to rest on, and remember that if you’re lying on your back then you’ll be working “backward,” so left will be to tighten and right will be to loosen. If the coupling nuts aren’t budging, spray WD-40 on them, wait a few minutes, and then try again.
Removing the Sink Sprayer
Since you’ll be replacing the sink sprayer with the faucet, you can save yourself a little time and trouble by just cutting the sprayer hose with scissors.
Hand-loosen and remove the nut that holds the sprayer in place—it’s located underneath the sink, directly below the sprayer. Pull the sprayer up and out, and discard.
Removing the Old Faucet
Use the basin wrench to loosen the mounting nuts that secure the faucet to the sink, which are located directly underneath the sink. Remove the nuts and the washers and discard, along with the mounting nuts.
Now pull the faucet up and out, and dispose. You’ll see old plumber’s putty, gook, an old gasket, or all of the above. Clean the area completely before installing the new faucet.
Note: Some manufacturers require usingTeflon tape on the threaded shank of a faucet, but others don’t, so, as always, refer to the manufacturer’s directions.
Installing the Gasket or Applying Putty
Every faucet needs a gasket or plumber’s putty (it’s always one or the other) to act as a barrier to water entering the cabinet.
If the faucet came with a gasket, slide it over the faucet supply hoses and hose outlet. If the faucet did not come with a gasket, then you’ll need to use plumber’s putty. The best way to do this is to take some putty in your hand and roll it until it’s long, and then apply it to the
Instaling a faucet gasket inside perimeter of the base of the faucet.
Applying Teflon Tape to the Sink Sprayer
Before installing the faucet, you need to apply Teflon tape to the threaded part of the spray inlet connector. It’s small, so you won’t need much. Wrap the tape counterclockwise
Move the faucet so that the spray inlet connector is located at the back and the faucet is positioned correctly. Insert the new washers and mounting nut onto the tailpiece, following the manufacturer’s directions. Hand-tighten and then tighten using the basin wrench. Be careful not to overtighten because you don’t want to crack the sink.
Reattaching the Water Supply Lines
Wrap Teflon tape (2 or 3 layers) on the hot and cold shutoff values.
Connect the water supply lines to the shutoff valves, hand-tighten, and then slightly tighten with the adjustable wrench.
Installing the Sink Sprayer
Unravel the spray hose. This will make it easier to maneuver under the sink.
Instaling a sink sprayer
Attaching coupling nut to connector
Insert the gasket onto the base of the spray holder and then place it over the hole for the sprayer. Insert the hose through the spray holder and through the sink, and pull it gently from below.
Feel for the spray inlet connector on the tailpiece of the faucet. Attach the coupling nut on the hose to the connector and tighten.
Replacing the P-Trap and Garbage Disposal
Install the p-trap and garbage disposal following the steps in the reverse order.
Turning on the Water
Remove the aerator on the faucet and sink sprayer by twisting them off in a counterclockwise direction. By doing this before turning the water on, you will keep any debris in the water lines from getting into the aerators.
If the faucet has a ceramic disk, you’ll need to turn the faucet to the center on position, prior to turning the water supply on because a sudden surge of air may crack the disk. Otherwise, keep the faucet in the off position while you turn the water supply on.
Now turn the handle(s) to the center on position. Check above and below for leaks. Replace the towel with a few paper towels and leave them there for a day or two so you can continue to check for leaks. If there is a leak, tighten the mounting nuts.
Replace the aerators.