Even if you don’t fancy yourself a home remodeling expert like the professionals from "This Old House" or "Hometime," you can install a new faucet. Not only will this simple and quick changeout provide your kitchen or bath with a fresh, updated look, it will also be a good excuse to get rid of your current faucet that may be corroded, tarnished or leaking.
But if you have never changed out a faucet, you may have some fears — what if you bring it home and it doesn’t fit your existing sink or plumbing? What if you get everything taken apart and can’t reassemble it? Or worse yet, what if you flood your home in the process?
"All these faucet fears are somewhat realistic, especially for those who do not consider themselves mechanically inclined," David Lingafelter, Moen Faucet Marketing Vice President. "But the novice DIYer shouldn’t be afraid, for the great majority of today’s latest faucets are relatively easy to install - especially with Moen’s new single-bolt tie-down installation process for kitchen faucets."
Before You Start
Before you even head to the store to pick out a new faucet, you will need to have some information in hand. First, determine the number of mounting holes in your present sink deck. Look under the sink to count the holes, as they may be covered by a deck plate (escutcheon) and will not be visible from the top. Next, check the spacing between the holes. Standard distances between the hot and cold inlets are always used throughout the U.S. plumbing industry. In the kitchen, with both single and two-handled faucets, inlets are generally 8" apart, while in the bathroom they are usually 4" apart — but there are always exceptions to the rule.
Lastly, you will need to examine your water supply lines. There are basically four types of water supply hook-ups: flexible plastic, standard copper, flexible braided connectors, or corrugated copper. These water supply lines come in different lengths and with different fitting sizes. To determine which supply lines fit your plumbing, measure the distance from the faucet to the shut-off valves and leave some extra room to spare; the most common sizes of lines are 3/8" and 1/2". You need to also make sure that the fittings are correctly matched to the faucet and shut-off valves.
With this information, you should be ready to choose from the wide variety of faucet models available at your local plumbing products retailer. To be certain that your investment in a new faucet will be a lasting one, look for quality construction. Though they may all look alike, all faucets are not created equal. Look for faucets constructed of copper, brass and other high quality materials.
Plus, you probably should look for a one-piece "cartridge" style model for long term reliability. Moen one-piece cartridge faucets even offer a lifetime limited warranty. From a style standpoint, you don’t need to limit yourself to another two-handle model if that is what is currently on your sink. In both the kitchen and bath, modern one-handle models can usually be substituted for two-handled models (or vice versa depending on your style choice) using mounting hardware and other flexible hookups. And, if you’re looking for easy installation in the kitchen, all of Moen’s single-handle models feature the revolutionary single-bolt tie-down system.
Assembling the Correct Tools
According to Lingafelter, there are only a few tools that are needed before you begin the task — a Phillips head and/or regular screwdriver, an adjustable wrench, a pair of pliers, a flashlight, plumber’s putty (which may not be required for all installations), Teflon tape and new water supply lines. All of the tools listed above can be purchased at a local hardware or DIY store, usually where you purchase your faucet. Most manufacturers, such as Moen, list the tools needed right on the box, so that you won’t start the job at home only to realize that you are missing a critical element. Also, faucets with the single-bolt tie-down system may not require such an extensive arsenal of tools.
Removing the Old Faucet
Begin your faucet installation by turning off the water to the supply lines under your sink using the shut-off valves. To relieve some of the pressure in the lines, turn on the faucet and let the remaining water run out. Next, disconnect the supply lines by unscrewing them from the bottom of the faucet and remove the mounting nuts using a basin wrench. You also may need to use penetrating oil to loosen the mounting nuts, especially if they are corroded. Remove the old faucet from the sink by pulling it out from the top of the sink deck (grab it by the spout and pull upward, taking care not to scratch your sink). Lastly, clean the sink area to get it ready for the new faucet installation.
Installing the New Faucet
We will divide this section into traditional faucets and the single-bolt tie-down system, since each installation method is a little different.
Once you have successfully completed the removal of your old faucet, place the stem of the new faucet through the holes on the top of your sink deck. To create a watertight seal, use either the gasket provided with the faucet and/or plumber’s putty. Next, move under your sink to tighten the mounting nuts that hold the faucet in place. Using the Teflon® tape, wrap it around the faucet inlet threads clockwise to ensure a tight seal. Complete the job by reconnecting the water supply lines and turning on the water to make sure all connections are working properly. As necessary, tighten the connections.
Single-Bolt Tie Down Faucets
With Moen’s single-bolt tie down faucets plumber’s putty or silicon sealers are not needed. This is because the single-bolt method uses a unique deck support plate that comes complete with a concealed gasket. The gasket creates a tight seal and prevents leaking. To install these types of faucets, all you do is set the support plate down on the faucet and place the threaded stud through the hole in your sink deck. Move underneath to tighten the single-bolt. You will note that the deck plate will be slightly bowed until the bolt is tightened and pulled down - this is how the watertight seal is created. Complete the job by reconnecting the water supply lines. The single-bolt tie down system also includes a special "U-shaped" mounting bracket to allow easy tightening around these lines.
If you do incur a problem or have a question during the installation process, most manufacturers have a toll-free helpline that is staffed by trained plumbing professionals to provide step-by-step assistance. Moen’s Helpline can be reached by calling 1-800-BUY-MOEN (1-800-289-6636), Monday through Friday from 8 am to 8 pm EST and Saturdays from 8 am to 6:30 pm EST.
Congratulations! Your handyman (or woman) job is now complete and you should have a sparkling, new faucet that will provide years of high quality performance as well as adding to the decor of your room.