How to Replace a Kitchen Faucet

Hooking up a new kitchen faucet is easy — we’ll show you how.

Have you just bought a new faucet, and want to save some cash by installing it yourself? Is this your first DIY plumbing project, and you’re looking for some tips? You’ve come to the right place.

Installing your new fixture isn’t as difficult as it may seem, and it takes less than two hours to complete. To assist you on this DIY quest, we’ve put together a thorough guide on how to replace a kitchen faucet. So, let’s dive in.

Before You Start

Even though replacing your kitchen faucet is a relatively straightforward process, it’s all about planning. Before you start, ensure you have everything ready such as tools and a compatible replacement.

Plan Ahead

We recommend doing your project during store opening hours. DIY plumbing projects rarely go as they should, and chances are you’re missing some essential parts. Hence, if the hardware store is open, you can quickly pick up what you need.

Step 1: What You’ll Need

Ensure you have the following:

  • New faucet.
  • Basin wrench.
  • Flashlight.
  • New supply lines (unless they’re included with the faucet).
  • Camping lantern.
  • Rags.
  • Putty knife (not necessary, but useful to keep handy).
  • Bowls.

Step 2: Read the Included Instructions

Before you start fiddling around with your new faucet, we highly recommend reading the instructions.

Take your time reading through the instructions before you start, and use our guide below as your assistant.

Step 3: Clear the Cabinet Underneath the Sink

Replacing a kitchen faucet requires you to get under the sink. It’s essential to remove all obstructions so you have room to move.

Clear everything out. This is also an excellent time to declutter the cabinet — watch out for the creepy crawlies!

How to Replace a Kitchen Faucet

Now that you have your tools together and are ready, it’s time to get down to business.

This is the process you’ll follow:

Step 1: Turn off Supply Valves

To avoid getting everything wet, it’s vital that you turn off the hot and cold supply valves. Turn them clockwise to tighten. Once they’re tight, open the tap to check that no water comes out.

If water continues to flow, it may mean that the valves aren’t working and will need a replacement as well. For this, we recommend contacting a plumber.

However, if no water comes, you’re free to disconnect the supply lines. Use the basin wrench to unscrew the nuts — turn counter-clockwise until loose. Then, place a bowl under the hoses to catch any trapped water.

Step 2: Light up the Area

The space underneath the sink is always dark. To avoid giving yourself a considerable disadvantage, place a camping lantern or worker light under the faucet. A well-lit area makes the project so much easier.

Step 3: Disconnect the Old Faucet

Using the basin wrench, unscrew the nuts securing the retaining bracket to the faucet. If there are any plastic nuts, it’s best to use your fingers, unless they’re too tight. If so, use pliers instead of a wrench.

This is also where you can use the putty knife. If the faucet is difficult to loosen, gently insert the putty knife between the fixture and sink to lift away slowly. However, be careful not to scratch or damage the sink.

Once the old faucet is loose, lift it from the hole. You’re now ready to install the new one.

Step 4: Clean the Area

This isn’t a vital step, but one we feel is necessary in some cases. If your old faucet has been there for years, it has likely left behind some unsightly residue. Grab the rag or a sponge and clean the area.

Doing this ensures that everything looks and feels as new as possible. You don’t have to go crazy, but removing any residue from the old fixture will make for a more appealing finished look.

Step 5: Install Your New Faucet

Take your new faucet and install it per its included instructions.

If it has a single handle, place all the supply lines through the same hole. However, if it’s a double-handle faucet, verify you align the hot and cold hoses correctly.

Once everything is in the correct position, use the basin wrench to tighten the nuts for the new faucet. Avoid tightening them too much as this could cause trouble over time — too much could damage the washers.

Deck Plate

If you’re replacing a double-handle faucet with a single-handle one, your sink probably has more than three holes. Use the deck plate to cover additional gaps. Pull the supply lines through the plate’s hole, so it sits between the fixture and the sink.

Step 6: For Pull-Downs and Pull-Outs Only: Install the Weight

Most faucets with extendable sprayer heads use a weighted system. Refer to the instructions for exact directions.

Place the weight on to the part of the sprayer hose located underneath the sink. Many manufacturers mark the area where you should attach it; it’s usually a colored line. If you misplace the weight, it could impair the functions of the pull-out/down feature, but luckily, it’s easy to correct.

Step 7: Wipe Down the Lines and Hose

Once the faucet is in and connected, grab a dry rag, and wipe down the supply lines and hose.

You know they’re dry and can check for leaks once you open the tap again.

Step 8: Flush the Faucet

Flushing the fixture is super important. New faucets contain sediment and other particles from the manufacturer, which can be dangerous if you ingest them. Fortunately, flushing is easy.

  • Aerator nozzle: Start by removing the aerator on the nozzle. It should be easy to unscrew using your fingers. If you forget to remove it, sediment can’t flush out as the fine mesh aerator catches them.
  • Hot and cold supply: Once that’s out of the way, turn on the hot and cold supply valves.
  • Open the tap: Open the tap and let the water run for a couple of minutes. Alternate between hot and cold.
  • Sprayer head: If you have a sprayer head (for example pull-down/out) or side sprayer with integrated aerator, remove the nozzle altogether. Then, rinse it in a separate bath to remove sediments. Screw the head back on once you’ve finished flushing and it should be safe to use.

Step 9: Check for Leaks

After flushing, return to under the sink. Inspect the supply lines and hose for moisture.

We recommend running a white paper napkin over the pipes to check for drips and spills. Water will quickly show on the napkin in case something is leaking. If so, verify that you connected everything correctly and that nothing requires tightening.

Once you’ve amended the leak, or if there wasn’t one, congratulations, you’re all done!

Old Supply Valves

If the supply valves haven’t been in use for years, they will likely leak once you open them again. Don’t worry! Try opening them fully to reset the sealing gaskets. If they continue to leak, even on full, they require replacement.

How to Measure for a New Faucet

If you haven’t bought a new faucet yet, take a deep breath because it isn’t a walk in the park. Choosing a fixture that’s incompatible with your current plumbing can be costly and time-consuming.

Here are some steps to ensure you get the right faucet:

1. Get the Right Measurements

Whether you’re replacing your old faucet with a different or similar style, measurements are crucial. Take a look at the current mounting configurations:

  • The height: Measure from the bottom of the faucet (base plate) to the tallest point on the spout.
  • Spout height: Now measure from the base of the faucet to the bottom of the spout or nozzle.
  • Spout reach: To measure this, place the measuring tape on the middle of the neck and stretch it toward the nozzle. Try to align it to the center of the head.

You should also verify it fits under overhead cabinets, and that it doesn’t overreach the sink. The same goes for backsplashes — ensure there’s enough room to move a lever back into full position.

2. Check for Holes

Check how many holes are in your sink — you may have to duck under it to confirm. One way to guess is by checking how many handles your current fixture has. If there are two, you’ll likely have three or more holes.

If your current faucet has a single lever, replacing it with doubles can be a challenge. If there are no extra holes, consult a plumber for assistance.

3. Measure the Distance

If your current faucet has double handles, measure the distance between the levers.

When you’re shopping for your new faucet, look for the minimum measurements in the specs. Avoid buying a tap with a smaller width than your current sink can handle.

What’s Plumber’s Putty and Is It Necessary?

Plumber’s putty is a type of soft, pliable man-made compound, often composed of linseed oil and powdered clay. Other formulas may consist of limestone, fish oil or talc (1).

Plumber’s putty creates a waterproof seal wherever you apply it. It’s easy to recognize on the underside of an old faucet — it looks like beads of clay. Unlike chalk or silicone, plumber’s putty remains pliable for a long time, so it’s excellent for filling wide gaps due to its density.

Also, it isn’t adhesive. This means the faucet isn’t permanently sealed on to the sink, giving you the option of removing it without damaging anything. For example, if you used chalk, you’d have to cut through the whole thing to remove the fixture.

Is It Necessary?

If you have a large gap to fill around the hole, it’s useful. On the other hand, many manufacturers include a gasket, which provides enough of a seal, so no water leaks occur.

If you do decide to use plumber’s putty, it’s straightforward to apply, not to mention inexpensive. It’s basically like using play-dough — you role it out with your hands, and place it where you need it.

That’s It

Replacing a kitchen faucet doesn’t have to be a challenging project, and it may give your DIY confidence a boost once complete.

However, to avoid any costly or time-consuming mistakes, make a plan. Verify that your new faucet fits, gather the right tools, and read the included instructions thoroughly.

Now you know how to replace a kitchen faucet, go ahead and give it a go. Please let us know how it goes in the comments below, and ask if you have further questions.

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About the Author

Peter Gray

Peter has been a homeowner for 35+ years and has always done his own repair and improvement tasks. As a retired plumber, Peter now spends his time teaching others how they can fix leaks, replace faucets, and make home improvements on a budget.