The selection of kitchen faucets available on the market today is huge. Major home improvement centers stocks many dozens of different models, and the selection grows into the hundreds if you shop online. You can now choose from models that swivel, feature pull-down sprayers or magically dispense water when you wave your hand. The variety can be a little overwhelming when you are looking for a new faucet. But remember that underneath its metal casing, no matter how showy, every faucet is basically just a water shut-off valve, and every one has more or less the same plumbing hookups and attachments.
While no single installation procedure will apply to every faucet, a general procedure applies to most of them, except for those with "touchless" technology. This feature requires special parts, and these supplemental parts are often particular to the faucet model.
When you unpack your faucet prior to installation, whether its a touchless model or not, it's always a good idea to read the installation instructions. Check the list of parts that are supposed to be included with the faucet. Make sure you find all of them in the box, then read to manual to find out what each part is for. When you're lying on your back in the sink cabinet staring into the blackness behind the sink, you'll be glad you have the parts within easy reach and you know what to do with them.
Two Essential Tools
If you're replacing a faucet that doesn't work or upgrading the faucet with a more modern one, you have to remove the old faucet before you can install the new one. This sounds easier to do than it is. It's usually difficult to reach the nuts holding the faucet to the sink, and the nuts are often rusted and difficult to turn.
Two tools make this part of the job much easier and should be in any homeowner's plumbing tool chest. The first is a headlamp to illuminate the tight, narrow between the back of the sink and the wall. The second is a basin wrench, which locks onto nuts of any size and allows you torque them loose by turning the handle, which extends below the bottom of the sink, where there is plenty of clearance.
If you are installing a new faucet at the same time you are installing a sink, you can simplify matters by mounting the faucet on the sink deck before you install the sink in the countertop. This is often considerably easier than trying to make the hookups in the tight space between the back of the sink basin and the wall. In some instances—such as when the mounting nuts on an old faucet are badly corroded—it may be easiest to disconnect the sink drain, lift the sink entirely out of the countertop, and remove and replace the faucet with the entire sink out in the open.
General Instructions for Installing a Kitchen Faucet
Things You'll Need
Pipe seal tape
Step 1: Remove the Old Faucet
- Turn off the fixture shut-off valves under the sink and open the faucet to allow it to drain. Leave the faucet open while you remove it from the sink.
- Disconnect and remove the sprayer, if there is one, from the faucet body. You may have to unscrew a small mounting nut using a wrench, but if the sprayer hose has a quick-connect fitting, you can disconnect it by grasping both sides of the connector and pushing them together. Pull the sprayer out of the sink or the faucet spout.
- Disconnect the water supply tubes from the shut-off valves, using an adjustable wrench. (It's usually a good idea to replace these supply tubes with new ones when you are replacing a faucet. Avoid reusing the old supply tubes if possible.)
- From beneath the base cabinet, loosen and remove the mounting nuts holding the faucet to the bottom of the sink deck or countertop, using a basin wrench. This can be the most difficult part of the process, as the mounting nuts can be difficult to access. With some faucets, there will be a single nut that holds the central body of the faucet, while other faucets will have two nuts securing the hot and cold water tailpieces of the faucet. If the nuts are rusted and stuck, douse them with spray lubricant and wait for a few minutes before trying again.
- Lift the faucet out of the sink. If the faucet has copper tubes that are bent, making it difficult to force the fittings through the holes in the sink, don't be afraid to cut off the connectors with a hacksaw, assuming, of course, that you plan to discard the faucet.
- Clean the sink deck where the old faucet waas mounted. Remove old caulk, putty and other debris with a putty knife, then wash down the area with a damp sponge.
Step 2: Drop In the New Faucet
Many faucets come with a plastic or foam plate or gasket that fits between the faucet body and sink deck. This plate is essential when installing a single-lever faucet on a three-hole sink, because it covers the two unused holes. If your sink is single-hole model, this foam
- Place the gasket or deck plate (where necessary) on the sink deck.
- Feed the faucet supply tubes through the appropriate holes and position the faucet so it sits squarely on the deck plate.
Step 3: Secure the Faucet to the Sink
Use whatever mounting nuts or fasteners that came with the faucet to secure it to the sink. Some models have a plate that slides up along the supply tubes, which is then screwed to the base of the faucet with a screwdriver. More common are faucets that have nuts that are screwed onto the threaded tailpieces and tightened with a basin swrench. Some manufacturers include a long socket wrench sized for the nuts. Use your screwdriver to turn this socket and tighten the nuts.
It's useful to have a helper hold the faucet steady and in the correct position from above while you're working under the sink to secure it in place.
Step 4: Connect the Sprayer
- Some sprayers mount to the sink deck. If yours is one of these, attach the collar that comes with your faucet to the pre-drilled hole in the sink, which is typically to the right of the faucet.
- Secure the mounting nut to the sprayer tailpiece from under the sink, using a basin wrench. Some sprayers attach to the spout via a hose that you insert through the spout.
- Feed the supply hose through the hole in the sink or through the faucet spout.
- Connect the hose to the connector that extends down from the base of the faucet. You'll need a wrench to tighten the nut unless it's a quick-connect hose. In that case, push the two connectors together until they click and lock.
Step 5: Connect the Water Supply Tubes
If your water supply tubes connect to the shut-off valve valves with metal nuts, wrap pipe seal tape around the threads of the valve nipples, then screw on the supply tube mounting nuts. Tighten the connections with a wrench.
Step 6: Flush the System
Though this step is often overlooked, it's a good idea to flush the faucet before putting it into use. Flushing eliminates any contaminants in the faucet.
- Remove the faucet aerator from the end of the faucet spout.
- Open the faucet to the hot water side and leave it open.
- Turn on the hot water supply valve under the sink and let the water run through the faucet for about 1 minute.
- Close the hot-water shut-off valve and turn off the faucet.
- Open the cold water on the faucet and the cold water shut-off valve and let the water run for another minute.
This procedure flushes out any debris in the hoses or faucet tubes that could get stuck in the faucet. When you're done flushing, close the faucet, turn on both shut-off valves and check for leaks.
If You Have an Electrically Activated Faucet
Some faucets are designed to open when you wave your hand, and some open and close when you touch the spout. Each of these comes with proprietary parts that may include battery packs, wires and electrical insulators. On some models, the valve assembly and spout are separated and must be connected with tubes supplied with the installation kit. Extra procedures may include screwing a battery pack to the underside of the cabinet and connecting it to the faucet controls.
There's no general procedure for installing such specialty equipment. It's crucial to read the instructions that come with the faucet and follow them closely. The instructions are sometimes technical and difficult to understand, so don't hesitate to get professional help if you feel overwhelmed.
Chris Deziel is a contractor, builder and general fix-it pro who has been active in the construction trades for 40 years. He has degrees in science and humanities and years of teaching experience. An avid craftsman and musician, Deziel began writing on home improvement topics in 2010. He worked as an expert consultant with eHow Now and Pro Referral -- a Home Depot site. A DIYer by nature, Deziel regularly shares tips and tricks for a better home and garden at Hunker.com.