Installing a new bathroom faucet

This page is intended as a guide to how to replace an old faucet. The thing about dealing with existing buildings is that you never quite know what you are going to hit in terms of existing plumbing. But I hope this example will help give you the courage to tackle your own minor plumbing projects.

Pretty much every bathroom sink has shutoff valves underneath them. They only ever get used when you need to replace the washer on a faucet, or when replacing the faucet. As such, its not unexpected that they might be a little siezed up. I broke the knob on one one of them and had to use a pair of pliers to turn the valves shut.

Up until some time in the 80's or 90's, a piece of 3/8" metal tubing was typically used to connect the valve to the faucet. chances are, if you are replacing a faucet, you will encounter this type of tubing. Luckily, it comes out without having to solder. Just remove the nuts on the top of the valves, and the pipe should just pull out of the valves. The nut will stay stuck on the pipe behind the little 'ferrule' seal, but if you replace the pipe with a hose, you won't need the nut anymore.

Depending on what sort of existing faucet you have, its a matter of either undoing some rusty old screws, as shown at left, or some big plastic nuts on two large threaded stems. If its siezed up screws like on this one, taking them out can be a little bit destructive of the faucet. But seeing that the faucet was being replaced, it didn't matter so much.

Finally, undo the linkage for the drain plug, and the old faucet can be pulled out. There will probably be a surprising amount of crud under the faucet.

Installing the new faucet

Most newer faucets have a large threaded pipe underneath each tap. Large plastic nuts are put on these threads to hold the sink in place, and the tubing is subsequently screwed onto the end of these threaded pipes.

Of course, the nuts and hose only get attached after the sink is mounted, the shot at left just shows how it goes together.

Time to put in the faucet. The plastic piece goes between the faucet and the sink. Its to keep the porcelain or enamel of the sink from getting scratched by the faucet.

The fist thing that goes on is the plastic nuts. I can usually get these almost tight enough with my fingers, but they shouldn't be overly tight.

Next attach the hose. Nowadays, everybody just uses these flexible hoses to attach faucets, and they are so much easier to work with. They have rubber seals on the end of them, so they really don't need to be screwed on that tightly - just a little tighter than you would do a garden hose.

The other end of the hose attaches to the valve. The nut that used to lock in the pipe is removed, and the hose attaches onto the valve directly. This shot is actually from a different sink replacement (I neglected to take a photo of the hose of the other sink).

And last but not least, the pull knob on the faucet needs to be hooked up so that it can open and close the drain in the sink. This is usually done with a little metal clip, which, if you squeeze it like shown at left, can be slid on and off the rod its on.

Of course, if you want to do your own plumbing, what you encounter is not necessarily going to be identical to what I described here. New sinks and faucets tend to come with pretty good instructions on how to install them though. Of course, you have to buy the faucet before you know what you are in for. But plumbing is not that hard to work on.

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