Yesterday (and today) I worked on installing a new faucet into my kitchen sink. It was a somewhat difficult process because the original faucet had something broken inside and was leaking water, resulting in the nut
s holding the flange
into place being completely rusted to the screw
- Be prepared to lie on your back under the sink. You should get a floor mat or something else to cushion your back.
- Wear face protection. There will be a ton of gunk (metallic dust and chips, rust, dirt, mineral deposits, etc) dislodged while you do the work. At a minimum, wear wrap-around goggles to protect your eyes. You may also want to wear a filter mask for your mouth, but I didn't use one. Keep in mind that some of the stuff will fall straight down on your face and the rest will float around and eventually settle on you.
- Get the proper supplies. Optimally, you have at least one ratchet with a tilting head. There is NOT a lot of space to swing the handle around where you will be connecting the faucet to the supply lines! Make sure you have at least two vice grips, adjustable wrenches, channel locks, or some combination - you will need this to tighten and loosen the supply hoses, which, at the faucet, are not anchored. I used two vice grips. You will also need teflon tape, a flat-head screwdriver and a hammer. If your new faucet's instructions say it is OK and necessary, you may also want some caulk and a caulking gun.
- Get a good light-source (a goose-neck desk lamp is excellent) and a small mirror mounted on an adjustable stand.
- Keep disinfectant and band-aids on hand. You will be working with metal, some of which is likely to have jagged edges.
Removing the Old Faucet
Put in drain stoppers. You don't want screws, nuts, bolts, pieces of rubber, and other miscellaneous junk to go down the drains.
First, shut off the water going into the old faucet. You probably have valves that can be turned on and off under your sink. If you don't, locate the house's main water valve and shut it off, then turn on the old faucet and let it run until no more water comes out of it. In either case, hold up the handheld spray unit as far as it will reach and squeeze the trigger. This will let some of the water drain out through the faucet after the water has been shut off to the faucet.
Then, disconnect the water lines. Clamp the faucet's copper input pipe with one vice grip and clamp the water line hose's nut with the other, then turn them in opposite directions. The mixing bowl you have placed underneath the sink will catch the water that drips down.
After that, remove the old faucet. In my case, that took a while to figure out. I couldn't undo the bolts holding the faucet to its flange, since they were rusted solid to the bolt - so as with replacing a rusted-in garbage disposal, the trick was to deform the flange until it was possible to pull the unit out. I did this by lodging the screwdriver between the flange and the sink, and yanking downwards to bend the metal. Sometimes I would use the hammer to really drive it in there - be careful, as it is possible to crack, fragment, and even shatter porcelain and cast-iron sinks with a hammer. I used a vice-grip to straighten the copper pipes going into the faucet so that they wouldn't get caught up too much as I pulled the faucet out. The rubber hose going to the handheld sprayer was fastened tightly to the faucet, and I found it more expedient to simply cut the rubber line and pull out the hose that way, than to disconnect it.
Installing the New Faucet
First, clean up all the gunk on the sink deck where the faucet will sit. There will be, at a minimum, a ring of gunk around where the old faucet sat.
Be sure to read the instructions that come with the faucet. Generally, you will seat the faucet on the rear sink deck where the holes are, and attach one or more flanges to the bottom to hold it into place. Depending on the instructions, it may be wise to caulk around where the faucet meets the sink deck. The instructions that came with my faucet said not to use caulk unless the deck was uneven.
Once the faucet is secured to the sink deck, wrap the threaded pipe-ends of the new faucet with about 1 1/2 turns of the teflon tape. It will not be sticky on either side but if you pull it tightly enough it will form around the threads; since it is teflon, it will also have some help staying in place from the static electricity it naturally attracts. Wrap the teflon tape in the same direction you will be turning the water line nuts or it will come off when you screw them on. This will help to create a better seal with the water lines. Generally, the faucet will have three pipes protruding from the bottom - one for hot water, one for cold water, and a third, narrower pipe for the handheld spray unit. Looking at the faucet from the front of the sink, the hot water pipe is usually on the left, and the cold water pipe is usually on the right. This matches the positioning of the water lines as they come out of the wall under the sink. Read the instructions to be sure. Screw the flexible water lines to the correct pipe threads - hand-tighten them, and then go at least another quarter turn with the wrench. Be careful with the wrench. I managed to pinch the end of my cold-water supply line and thus created a leak between the end of it and the nut that screws to the faucet pipe, and had to replace it.
That done, unscrew the aerator from the tip of the faucet. Be careful not to lose any washers or anything else that drops out. (There is likely to be rust and other junk and you don't want it to get trapped in the faucet.) Then, turn on the cold water supply and check it for leaks. If there are none, turn on the hot water supply and check it for leaks. Assuming it doesn't leak, turn on the faucet. Run the cold water, then the hot water, then both. You are likely to see some rust and other bits of junk for a short while. When the water runs clean, screw the aerator back in and test it to make sure water doesn't leak out around the aerator. Test out the handheld sprayer and make sure it doesn't leak where it connects to the underside of the faucet.
Clean out the sink and remove the drain stoppers. Dry off the piping and so forth on the underside of the faucet. Let the water run for a few minutes and then shut it off and check for leaks. If you find leaks, try tightening the supply line nuts a little.
Come back an hour later and re-check the pipes for moisture.
Assuming you did everything right and in accordance with the new faucet's installation instructions, your new faucet should last for years. Be sure to check the supply line nuts every now and then for leaks.