REPLACE A FAUCET
New faucets can add style to interior décor; newer ones even conserve water for lower utility bills. Choose from such finishes as chrome, oil-rubbed bronze, brushed nickel, and more, in a modern design or traditional styling. Faucet installation is fairly straightforward, but cramped space and poor visibility beneath a sink can be confusing for first-timers. Here’s an example, using the parts of a faucet designed for 4-inch center sets.
Shut off the water supply, then use a wrench to unscrew the supply lines and wing nuts beneath the faucet levers.
Unscrew the cap of the drain’s lift rod so the faucet will slip over it.
Remove the faucet; it should pull right out, but you may need to break the seal of old caulk.
Scrub away any remaining old sealant or putty with a degreasing product.
Place a bead of plumber’s putty along the edge of the plastic gasket that fits between the sink and faucet. Apply the gasket to the sink.
Insert the shanks of the faucet through the sink and secure them with new wing nuts.
Unhook the old pop-up drain cover from the lift lever in the drain pipe and pull it out.
Remove drain by unscrewing the retaining nut from the drain assembly with a wrench or pliers.
Apply plumber’s putty beneath the lip of the new drain cap, and seat the cap into the sink.
The drain assembly mating component is installed from beneath the sink with a rubber gasket. Apply plumbing sealant to it before installing.
Connect the drain and gasket to the drain cap from below with a new retaining nut.
Position the drain pipe with the lift-lever hole facing the rear of the sink. Fasten the pipe into place with thread seal tape or self-fusing silicone tape.
Thread the lift rod in through the top of the new faucet.
Drop in the new drain cover.
Install the adjustable extension arm to the lift rod, which connects with a simple thumb screw.
Install the lift lever in the drain, and thread the short end of the lever (near the ball) through the hook in the new drain cap. The ball is secured in the drain pipe with a nut.
Thread the lever’s long end through whichever hole in the extension arm that will allow easiest operation of the drain assembly. Reconnect the sink drain onto the P-trap with a coupling nut, and then reconnect the water lines. The new faucet is now ready for use.
FIX A SHOWER FAUCET
When a tub or shower faucet leaks, the trouble often lies behind the handles, which turn valves governing water flow. These valves should be fixed quickly; aside from the irritating drip-drip-drip, a leaky shower can waste a small pond of water every day. Repairs are fairly simple, but you’ll need a special set of deep-socket wrenches.
Shut off the water supply to the faucet before disassembling the handles.
Modern faucets usually have rubber washers that seal water; over time, these can deteriorate and leak. To get to these, first pry the decorative cap off the handles. (In some cases these caps are threaded.)
Remove the handle’s retaining nut and pull the handle off the valve stem.
Remove the escutcheon, which is often held with a retaining nut. If not, then the escutcheon is threaded over the valve stems, and you can unscrew the entire escutcheon as one piece. Cut away any caulk that might be holding it to the wall. A strap wrench may help encourage a stubborn one to turn.
The bonnet nut that holds the stem in place is recessed behind the wall requiring a special wrench. A deep-socket shower valve wrench will fit over the protruding valve stem and reach the bonnet nut for removal. Unscrew and remove the bonnet nut.
Pull the stem from the wall to expose the seat washer and retaining screw. Remove the screw and worn seat washer. Replace with a new one, coated in heat-proof faucet grease. Use the correctly sized and shaped seat washer and press it firmly into the stem’s retainer. If the stem is in good shape, you’re ready to reassemble the shower handles and test your faucet.
Some metal stems may be worn out and need replacement. When purchasing the stems, note the model numbers, typically labeled with either H or C, indicating hot or cold. These determine the direction of handle rotation. Get one of each; be sure to keep them straight during installation. Coat the rubber seat washer with heat-proof faucet grease and install the stem. If the junction of the shower head and the plumbing spout leaks, wrap the threads with thread-seal tape in the same direction as the head screws onto the spout.
FIX SINGLE-HANDLE TUB & SHOWER FAUCETS
The repair procedure for single-handle faucets is very similar. First, remove the handle and any stainless steel sleeve or escutcheon that may be in place. The valve cartridge is typically held in place by a U-shaped retaining clip; use needlenose pliers to carefully take it out. Pull out the old valve cartridge and insert an exact replacement. Reinsert the retaining clip, then replace the sleeve and handle.