Here are tips and instructions on how to replace sink, bath and shower faucets. Following these and manufacturer instructions can help you save time, money and effort. It can also help you end up with a neater, more satisfactory installation.

  • There are many sizes, types and styles of faucets. Be sure you purchase the correct faucet when replacing an existing one, since many faucets are not interchangeable.
  • Before purchasing a replacement faucet, take an exact measurement of the holes for the faucet, center to center (Fig. 1). Also, remove the old faucet and take it along to the store when purchasing the new fixture.
  • There are many different types of mixer faucets. Use care in selecting the correct one - the style is optional, but the size must be correct.
  • Before installing the new faucet, carefully read the manufacturer's instructions for installation. It's important to follow them exactly.

  • It's important to use the proper tools when removing stubborn plumbing fixtures. Fig. 2 shows the variety of wrenches designed for specific plumbing jobs.
  • You'll usually need two pipe wrenches (stillson wrenches) on a plumbing job. One is used for holding, the other for turning. Use pipe wrenches only on pipes. The teeth in the jaws of pipe wrenches bite into the metal and can mar chrome-finished nuts and pipe.
  • Open-end wrenches, adjustable wrenches and monkey wrenches all have smooth jaws and can be used for square or hex nuts. These wrenches are ideal for working with the interior parts of faucets and valves.
  • You can use strap wrenches instead of a pipe wrench when working with chrome-coated pipe if a regular pipe wrench might mar the surface.
  • Vise grip wrenches are ideal for holding and working with pipe of small diameter.
  • Use basin wrenches to remove or tighten nuts and hose couplings under sinks and lavatories. Its alternate positions enable you to reach nuts that would ordinarily be inaccessible to other wrenches.

  • In most cases, you'll want to convert from iron pipe to plastic or copper. Check your local code. Both copper and plastic require no threading.
  • Attach copper pipe to threaded pipe with a transition union. Half of the union is threaded onto the old iron pipe. The other half is soldered to the copper pipe. The two halves are then threaded together. This type of fitting is also available for connecting iron to plastic and copper to plastic using solvent-cement or mechanical connections.

  • To replace an ordinary faucet with a soldered end, first remove the old faucet by applying heat or cutting. Clean the end of the pipe thoroughly.
  • Remove the stem of the faucet to protect the seat washer (Fig. 4). Apply heat to the pipe with an ordinary propane heat torch. Then, apply solder and reassemble the faucet. Use a solder that contains no lead, such as 95/5.
  • You can apply an ordinary faucet of the same type to threaded pipe by applying a pipe compound or teflon tape to the pipe threads and then attaching the faucet to the threads.

  • The 4" lavatory faucet without a pop-up drain is relatively simple to install. Place plumber's putty in the groove just underneath the chrome framing to provide a tight seal (Fig. 5).
  • Insert the shanks of the lavatory faucet into the holes of the lavatory. Attach the lock nuts (B) and the washer (A) to the shank and tighten them firmly into place.
  • Remove any excess putty from the base of the faucet. Connect the shank to the water supply and tighten.

  • Installing the 4" lavatory faucet with a pop-up drain is more challenging.
  • Start by carefully reading the instructions that came with the faucet.
  • First, remove the old faucet and pop-up drain (Fig. 6).
  • Insert the new faucet into position. Add putty in the groove around the base of the faucet.
  • Slip the washer over the shank and thread the lock nut up the shank, placing the faucet loosely into position.
  • Insert the drain plunger into the center hole, and affix the adjustment bar to the drain plunger.
  • Place the pop-up drain body into position and attach it to the adjustment bar. Tighten all nuts and attach the faucet to the water system. Attach the pop-up drain body to the drain system.
  • Place the stopper into the drain body and work the drain plunger. Make any adjustments by moving the lever assembly up or down in the holes provided.

  • Installing the combination lavatory faucet with pop-up drain is much the same as the 4" lavatory faucet.
  • Read and follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully for the step-by-step installation.
  • The main difference in this installation is that most models require the faucet handles, flanges and faucets to be removed. The assembly is then inserted from underneath the lavatory frame.

  • Most sink faucets are of the mixer variety, where the hot and cold water are mixed and brought into the sink through one swing spout.
  • The typical mixer-type faucet also comes equipped with a spray hose (Fig. 8).
  • Mixer faucets for kitchen sinks are usually 8", although they are also available in 6" and 4" sizes. There are two basic types - the exposed deck, shown in Fig. 8, and the concealed deck. The exposed deck has a chrome housing above the sink, while the concealed deck has only a flange exposed just below the faucet handles.
  • All faucets come with manufacturer's installation instructions. Read these instructions carefully and follow each step for a good installation.
  • If instructions are unavailable, you can follow the same basic instructions given for installing a lavatory faucet.

  • The first challenge in installing bath and shower faucets is getting the faucet assemblies behind the wall.
  • Most home builders provide a rear access panel. By removing this panel, you can connect fittings without defacing the bathroom wall. These panels are usually located in closets in back of the tub.
  • The two-valve faucet assembly is the most common assembly for bath tubs. If instructions are unavailable, study Figure 11 to help you make such an installation without too much trouble.
  • The two-valve shower assembly is the basic faucet arrangement used only for shower assemblies. This arrangement is used when the faucets are installed separate and apart from the taps which supply water to the tub.
  • The three-valve diverter with showerhead and spout provides water both to the shower and to the tub.
  • With this assembly, the hot and cold water taps are turned to bring water into the tub. Then, when the proper mix of hot and cold is reached, the diverter valve is turned to bring the water through the showerhead.
  • There are two basic types of two-valve diverters. One has a twin ell diverter spout (Fig. 12). The water is first mixed by letting it run into the tub. It is then diverted through the showerhead by the twin ell diverter spout.
  • Another type of two-valve diverter has a shower head and ejector tee diverter spout (Fig. 13). This works in basically the same way as the twin ell, but the water is diverted by means of a tee rather than by the twin ell.


Pipe Wrench Tubing Cutter Basin Wrench Vise Solder Flaring Tool
Propane Torch Pipe Compound or Teflon Tape Tubing Brush Locking Pliers Plumber's Putty Hammer
Screwdriver Transition Unions Penetrating Oil Solvent-Cement Hand Cleaner Adjustable Smooth Jaw Wrench