Although there are many parts that you can get to fix your sink faucet sometimes you get to the point where it is best just to replace everything.
If this is your situation then performing the work yourself is not that big a deal. You will need a few common tools and the appropriate faucet to fit your sink. Once you have everything ready the work should take you anywhere from 45 minutes for a same kind replacement to 3 hours if you need to change the hot and cold water feed lines.
Lets look at the different faucet types you can chose from.
The First type is a single hole faucet. This type of faucet is not as common as type 2 and 3 but you will find them on commercial and custom sinks that only have one hole cut in the sink top. The Pop-up actuator is behind the faucet lever and water is controlled by a replaceable cartridge designed to mix hot and cold water.
Single hole faucets are usually found in the Kitchen. If you have a vanity or sink top with 3 holes you may be able to use this type of faucet and convert the other holes to a soap dispenser or plug them with a decorative cap.
The Second type and most common is a single unit 4 inch spread faucet.
This type of faucet can be either a 2 handle with independent valves all connected to the main base plate..
or a single ball type handle with a cartridge design.
This type of design will need 3 holes in your sink top spaced 4 inches on center to allow for a hot water, cold water and a pop-up drain assembly actuator rod.
The Final basic type is a split handle faucetwhere the valve handles that control the water are independent from the spout where the water comes out.
This type of design is often found on pedestal and custom sinks.
The distances between the holes in the sink are not important because they are plumbed independently.
Water comes out of the feed line pipe and is sent to each handle and then sent over to the spout.
Once you know if you need a single hole, split handle or 4 inch spread faucet your selection is half way done.
If you are replacing an older faucet you can bring it to the store and ask for a recommendation on what type will best fit your needs.
Remember when replacing just the faucet more then likely there will be staining of the sink top around and under the metal parts. It is possible to remove some of the stains with bleach and other cleaning products but when choosing a new faucet for an old sink top you should probably try to get the same size base to hide this discoloration.
Note If you have a custom sink your selection may be very limited. Many custom designs still follow basic sink configurations but some are radical departures which will mean contacting the manufacturer for specific replacement parts.
Removing your old faucet
The first thing you need to do when replacing your faucet is to check the supply line shutoff valves.
Depending on the type of sink your water supply lines will exit the wall or floor under the sink. Older homes will have a mixture of different types of pipe that are usually metallic (copper, chrome steel, galvanized) and new homes will most likely have cpvc plastic pipe.
There will be two valves one for hot and cold water. Turn the cold water on at the faucet and then close the valve below the sink until the water turns off. Repeat the same process for the hot water side. If the valve is working properly then you should be able to stop the water at the valve and no water should exit the faucet. If you find that there is a problem with the valve not stopping all of the water then you will need to replace the valve when you replace the faucet.
To replace the valve you will need to remove it. To do so you will need to stop water flow to the bathroom by turning off the main water supply to the home or by turning off an intermediate valve. Some valves are threaded on and others need to be soldered or cemented on with PVC glue.
Now that we have stopped the water supply to the sink we can remove the supply line from the valveto the faucet. If you have flexible lines installed then you can reuse them without problem on the new faucet. If you have a bent chrome metallic line (found on exposed sinks) then you should inspect the line for problems and calcium deposit buildup before reusing it on your new faucet.
You should now remove the pop-up lever rod from your drain. This is pretty simple to do by removing the metal clip from the pop-up rod that connects the horizontal and vertical parts. If you can’t get this connection apart easily then you will need to remove the pop-up rod and ball from the drain wich unscrews from the back then remove the clip from the rod.
If faucet lock nuts are plastic you can probably remove them by hand or with a slight nudge with a channel lock or large pair of pliers. If the locking nut is metallic then you may need a special basin wrench to get a good grip on the nut. For removal of an old faucet you can probably get away with pliers because your new faucet will come with a new plastic nut however be careful not to strip it in a way that will make it impossible to get off or you will end up needing to remove your sink from the wall.
If you do end up stripping a plastic or metal connection you should replace that part and not reuse it.
You can now remove the faucet from the sink top.
Installing the new Faucet
When you purchase your new faucet you will need to decide if you will be replacing your pop-up drain. Often by the time the faucet goes bad the chrome on the pop-up has been pretty well pitted and it may not work the way you like but if it is cleaned and adjusted you may still be able to use it.
Some faucet kits come with a drain pop-up and others mostly the lowest costs ones are just the faucet.
Installing the faucet is basically the reverse of taking it off.
Depending on your model you may want to make the water supply line connections first then drop the lines into the holes in your sink. Some designs will require you to attach them from below.
The faucet and or the independent handles or soap dispensers should not require any plumbers putty. Each part should come with a gasket to place between the metal part and the sink top.
If you are replacing the pop-up then you should remember to buy a small container of plumbers putty to put between the metal flange of your drain pop-up and the ceramic opening in the base of your sink. Usually manufacturers include a thick gasket ring but sometimes there are imperfections that need a little filling to make it smooth and flush.
Once you have replaced the faucet and have everything connected you will want to remove the aerator from the faucet and allow the water to run for a few minutes to clean out any small chunks of stuff. This is very important if you needed to replace the supply line valves.