How to Replace a Bathroom Faucet – The Ultimate Guide

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Whether you’re remodeling the bathroom or want to replace your old stained or leaky faucet, it’s an easy task to DIY and saves the expense of a plumber. Patience and some grit make this project pretty ordinary to be tackled. 

With the right tools and some simple steps rundown, modern plumbing and changing faucets have made swapping easy.

However, there are a few essential considerations when buying and installing a new bathroom faucet. So, let’s dive in!

Different Faucet Configurations

When replacing a faucet first, you’ll need to make sure it’s compatible with the hole configuration of your sink or countertop. Countertop faucets or wall-mounted faucets are also crucial factors to consider when it comes to installation. 

Plumbing takes place under the sink for countertop faucets, while for wall-mounted faucets, it’s in the wall. To determine the current size of the faucet, you have:

  • Use a tape measure.
  • Remove the faucet first to get accurate measurements.
  • Measure the distance from the spout in the middle to the handles on the side.

There are several types of faucets to choose from with specific installation differences to their style.

  1. Single-set faucets are very simple and easy to use, with the handle being built into the faucet. The lever at the top regulates the hot and cold water and water pressure. Although some single-set faucets are made with a broad base to cover a three-hole opening in a sink to install this faucet type, you’ll generally need a single pre-drilled hole.
  2. Center-set comes with the faucet, handles, and spout, all attached at the base. Valves are at a fixed position anywhere from four inches apart on center up to twelve inches apart. Which size you should choose is determined by the distance between the openings in your sink. 
  3. Your third option is to install a widespread configuration meaning the handle and spout sit separately. Some only fit in matching sink openings, but many allow you to install the faucet on virtually any sink, no matter what the hole-spacing. Both options are available in various finishes, such as porcelain brass, chrome, or even satin nickel. 
  4. A wall-mounted faucet is a set where the spout is arched out from the wall to the basin. It’s crucial to take accurate measurements to get the right water angle into the sink basin. Their nice dramatic look can check a box on your wish list, but is it worth it? Installing a wall-mounted faucet comes at a cost, and it is not simple. You’ll likely need to hire a professional as plumbing in the wall is usually beyond the expertise of a regular handyman.
  5. Vessel faucets bring an elegant sophistication to the bathroom. Typically with a single-hole setup, these faucets use a lever to control the pressure and the hot and cold water. The way they’re designed to pair with a vessel sink is beautiful, and their unique style makes them stand out in a bathroom. When choosing such a faucet with its super tall spout, you’ll need to consider the height above the sink and the length of the faucet’s spout. There needs to be enough room between the faucet and the sink, so make sure to take measurements, or else you can end up disappointed.

Supplies You’ll Need for This Project

  • Basin wrench
  • Crescent wrench
  • Channel locks
  • New bathroom faucet
  • Plumber’s putty
  • Plumber’s tape
  • Tape measure 
  • Putty knife
  • Screwdriver
  • Plastic bucket
  • Towels or rags
  • Supply lines
  • Sponge with a scrubbing pad

Before You Get Started

1. Prepare the Area Surround

You’ll want to be working in an organized area with no unnecessary obstructions. 

  • Start by removing items from underneath the sink. Protect the vanity from scratches and damages by placing a towel or rag underneath the pipes. 
  • Water will likely drip down from the faucet, so place a bucket over the towel to catch any residual water spills. For additional protection, use a garbage bag by placing it underneath the towel or as a substitution to the bucket.

2. Disconnect the Water Supply

The bathroom shutoff valve is usually located under the sink or inside the vanity. 

  • Once located, you’ll want to turn off the valve to the faucet by rotating it entirely to the right or in a clockwise motion.
  • You’ll either have a single water valve or likely two separate valves for hot and cold water for the faucet. Turn both of them off if applicable.
  • If the connections are unreachable by hand, use a basin wrench to get to them.
  • Some plumbing installations can be confusing and if that’s the case with yours, for your peace of mind, turn off the water supply line to the entire bathroom sink.

3. Remove the P-Trap

Now that we’ve prepared for water spills, the next step is to remove the P-trap connected to the drain coming down from the sink. Generally, two nuts hold the P-trap in place.

  • Turn them counterclockwise by hand. If the nuts don’t become loose by hand, use a pair of channel locks to loosen the two slip nuts.
  • Again turn the nuts counterclockwise, grab a container or a bucket and make sure it’s underneath the P-trap because normally, water held in the trap will come out.
  • Suck up any water with a rag or an old towel that falls into the bottom of your vanity.

4. Get Rid of Excess Water

Before you start working, it’s crucial to drain the water from the faucet. That’ll help relieve pressure in the water pipes and water spraying around when removing the faucet. 

  • Once you’ve shut off the water, start draining the pipes.
  • Run the faucets at the sink and let all the remaining water out.
  • This will help against water damages and unpleasant leaks.
  • If water continues to flow, double-check the shutoff valves as continuous water dripping could signify a needed replacement for them as well.

How to Remove Your Old Bathroom Faucet

1. Disconnect the Supply Lines 

First, loosen the supply lines on the bottom of the faucet. Depending on the configuration, typically, one or more nuts hold the faucet secure to the sink, and you’ll need to use a basin wrench to loosen them.

  • Slide the basin wrench up onto the chromed mounting nut of the supply line that’s connected to the bottom of the faucet. 
  • You’ll want to turn it clockwise, and once it’s loosened enough, remove it by hand. Remove both the hot and cold water supply lines from the faucet.
  • Once disconnected, let the supply line drain into the same bucket or bowl used for the P-trap and wipe any residual water from the vanity’s bottom.

If your water supply lines have seen better days, it’s recommended to install new lines as well. Your kit might include new supply lines with the bathroom faucet to ease the process, depending on the manufacturer.

2. Remove the Drain

Before you can remove the faucet, there’s a plug that needs to be removed. A little clip holds the bar called “clevis strap” to the pivot rod under the sink. Most plugs work with a simple pulley system. By pulling up on the drain handle, it levers down on the plug.

  • To unscrew and replace the drain, you’ll have to remove that clip to loosen the drain with channel locks.
  • To disconnect, pinch the spring clip, and it’ll slide right off.
  • Then, remove the metal ball socket lever. The ball-shaped design allows the rod to pivot and prevents the water from leaking.
  • Once undone, loosen the nut using a wrench or by hand and remove it altogether with the top’s rubber gasket seal. 
  • You can now pull the drainpipe down from the bottom of the sink.
  • Remove the stopper by pushing from underneath, and it’ll come right out to the top of the drain, which screws down into the drain body.

3. Remove the Old Assembly

Next, you’ll need to remove the nuts layer that secures the faucet, also known as locknuts. They hold the faucet to the bottom of the sink by attachment to the tailpieces under the sink. 

  • Use a basin wrench to get the nut started. Then you can unthread the rest of the way by hand and remove them from the tailpieces.
  • If you’re having trouble and the nuts are too tight or stuck, apply some WD-40 spray on them to get them undone.
  • With the supply lines removed, loosen the faucet by removing all the nuts and washers in the same manner.
  • Get a good grip on the faucet and lift it straight up from the mounting holes.
  • Remove the covering if applicable and secure it aside with the faucet.

4. Clean the Faucet Holes

Get ready for the new setup and clean up any plumbers putty or silicone around the old drain and faucet holes. After lifting the faucet from the sink underneath, you’ll find a gross look formed from mold and dirt. 

  • Take some time to properly clean it with a sponge, rag, or abrasive pad and give the sink area a proper scrub. Once adequately cleaned, give it a rinse and dry it out. 
  • Wipe the area clean with a rag and use mineral spirits for stubborn debris and old silicone or plumber’s putty. For any leftovers, use a putty knife to scrape them off. Give it a good rinse and let it dry.

Installing the New Faucet

Set the New Fixture and Sealing Gasket

To install the new faucet, we’ll go in reverse order from the steps we just completed. While these are the typical instructions, faucets can vary, so be sure to consult the manufacturer’s directions. Most faucets come with a rubber or plastic gasket that goes on the faucet’s bottom that helps prevent leaks. 

  • To create a tight seal, position the gasket properly and center the faucet on the drain.
  • If your faucet didn’t come with a gasket, before you put the faucet on, apply a thin layer of plumber’s putty or silicone caulk to adhere it to the sink base.
  • Place the supply lines through the mounting holes and set the faucet in the sink. Reach behind the sink to put on the lock nuts, and use your basin wrench to tighten them in a clockwise direction.
  • When working with a double-handle faucet, you’ll want to fasten each side little by little to ensure the faucet is properly leveled.

Attach and Reconnect the Water Supply Lines

Next up, you’ll need to connect the hoses to the water supply. When you’re connecting metal pieces to help create a better seal and avoid leaks, be sure to use plumber’s tape on the threads.

  • Get a small piece of tape, stretch it relatively tight and wrap it around the threads’ end. But be sure it doesn’t go beyond the end of the thread. 
  • Then connect the hoses to the tailpipe of the faucet.
  • Tighten the hoses nuts down by hand and then finish with a wrench or pliers.
  • Next, you’ll want to have water running to the faucet, so reattach the faucet’s water supply line to the shutoff valves and tighten them in a clockwise manner with an adjustable wrench.

In With the New Drain

The drain comes in two pieces; you’ll need to screw them to put the drain together. If your plug has a spring on the top, the first thing you’ll need to do is take off the pieces from it, such as washers and rubber nuts; unless your directions call for something different, you’ll want to use plumber’s putty to prevent any leaks between the drain and the sink.

  • You’ll need to create half an inch of plumber’s putty rope, which you’ll then roll and shape into the bottom of the drain.
  • Once you’ve unscrewed the nut, set aside the companion pieces and put the drain down into your sink. With the drain tight in place, you’ll notice the plumber’s putty trickling out, be sure to clean the excess once the drain is installed.
  • Take pieces such as rubber gaskets/washers under the drain. Place the gasket upwards to go inside the drain hole. Put on the washer and the lock nut, and seal it tight with a pair of channel locks to prevent water leaks.
  • To adequately position the pivot hole that grips to the P-trap, you’ll need to make sure it’s pointed backward. With that said, you may need to loosen the lock nut to turn the extension tube and then tighten it up again.
  • Assemble the down rod, which goes down through the faucet, sliding the clevis strap onto the rod and tightening it down by hand first and some more with a crescent wrench.
  • Next, you’ll want to unscrew the nut on the extension tube so that you can slide the nut over the pivot rod and then slide the pivot rod onto the clevis strap and the extension tube.
  • In your hardware, you’ll find a little clip that holds the strap in place. Slide the clip onto the pivot rod. Next, slide the clevis strap on after the clip. Then, secure the strap in place with the other end of the clip by sliding it onto the pivot rod.

Install the P-trap

For the P-trap, you’ll likely have little nuts and washers that’ll go on your drain tube. On the drain tailpiece, you’ll want the P-trap to go up over the drain tube about two inches if possible.

  • Remove the master drain piece protruding from the wall. Put on two slip nuts on the new pipe facing opposite directions for each end of the pipe. Slide on the pipe gasket and put the new pipe in the wall.
  • Slide the P-trap onto both the drain pipe and the drain pipe from the wall. Push it up and screw the nuts starting from the one coming from the wall pipe first and then do the same for the extension tube coming from the drain.
  • Hand-tighten everything down, and don’t use a metal wrench or pliers as it can break the plastic.

Final Word

It’s a relatively easy project. You can certainly do this! With that said, now that everything is connected and tightened, you can finish with a flush. 

Turn the water back on, and flush the faucet to make sure everything is properly working, and inspect underneath the sink for any leaks or drips. Throw on some confetti if nothing unexpected occurs, and congratulate yourself for a job well done!