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Faucet

How to Fix a Faucet

You can do this! And we’re here to help.

There are all kinds of faucets and faucet problems that may leave you wanting to know how to fix a leaky faucet, or how to replace a faucet. Nowadays, new faucets are pretty easy to install except for the tight spaces. Unfortunately, the old ones can be difficult to remove — in part because they weren’t designed for the average homeowner to install in the first place, and in part because they’ve been there a while accumulating gunk that cements them in place. Nevertheless, if your faucet is leaking we’re here to help! If at any point these instructions don’t make sense, or your situation doesn’t exactly match, you can always get a hand from Fixer.

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Minutes

How to Repair a Kitchen Faucet

How to Repair a Leaky Kitchen Faucet

Maybe your kitchen faucet is dripping, or maybe your kitchen faucet is leaking. Either way, it’s wasteful and can even be damaging. Start by identifying the source of the problem. If the leak is coming from under the countertop, try and trace it to the component with the problem. If it’s leaking where there’s a nut, it might just be a question of tightening the nut. If the leak is coming from the faucet components where they attach to the countertop, or if the faucet is dripping, you’ll need to remove the faucet to get to the cartridge.

Pro tip: If this faucet isn’t all that fancy, and it wasn’t handed down generations in your family, you may consider replacing the whole faucet instead of just the cartridge. A new cartridge can be hard to match, you can’t use your faucet while you search, and will cost anywhere from $15-$60 — this will get you a few more years with your faucet though, so it’s certainly an option. The most basic kitchen faucet starts around $30 and you can still get pretty fancy for under $150.

How to Replace Kitchen Faucet Cartridges

In a kitchen sink faucet, check the handles for one of three common ways to access the cartridge(s):

  1. Turn off the water at the valves, and open the faucet to drain the lines. Plug the sink drain so you don’t lose any small pieces during your repair.
  2. If there is a small disc on your faucet handle(s), it will usually pry up with a flathead screwdriver, and then unscrew with a Phillips screwdriver or allen wrench.
  3. If there is a set screw on the handle(s), try using an allen wrench to unscrew it and remove the decorative part of the handle(s).
  4. If there is no plastic disc and no set screw, you can try simply unscrewing the part of the handle connecting it to the rest of the faucet or sink. This would look like some kind of collar, and you should be careful not to scratch the fixture if you’re using tools.

Once you’ve removed the decorative part of the handle, there should be another bonnet nut holding the cartridge in place, or sometimes a C- or U- shaped clip. Remove the cartridge, and bring it with you to the store to find its replacement. If your faucet has two cartridges, it’s recommended you replace both even if just one is faulty.

To do the steps in reverse: Insert the new cartridge(s), replace the clip or bonnet nut that holds it in place, and replace the decorative handle(s). Always remove the faucet aerator before turning the water supply back on in case some sediment wants to escape, and after flushing the lines, you can replace the faucet aerator. Ta da! Well done.

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How to Remove a Kitchen Faucet

Let’s check your water supply shutoffs first, especially if you’re looking for how to remove an old kitchen faucet.

  1. Turn your faucet on full blast.
  2. Go under the sink and turn off the hot and cold water valves, by turning them all the way clockwise.
  3. With the valves in the off position, turn the kitchen faucet all the way hot, all the way cold, and in every position. Water should NOT be coming out.
  4. If water is coming out, it means that one or both of your valves needs to be replaced; at this point, most homeowners would opt to hire a plumber.

When one or more of your valves is faulty, it means that you won’t be able to turn off the water to repair or replace your kitchen faucet — valves are there to safeguard against leaks, and leave the rest of your home’s water supply operational while you work on one specific fixture. They should be replaced, and while it’s not too difficult, the consequences of learning on the job can be pretty… Spectacular. If this kitchen faucet replacement is urgent, you can continue if you’re able to shut off the water to the whole house; if you do that, make sure you know how to remove faucet aerators throughout the home, and how to clean a faucet aerator before replacing it. But don’t let that faulty valve go unrepaired too long!

OK, so back to the happy path, where all of your valves are working as they should. Your water should be turned off now.

  1. Take a picture of all existing components. If you get lost putting the faucet back in, you can refer to it and make sure everything is where it belongs.
  2. With a bucket underneath, disconnect the water supply lines where they meet the valves.
  3. From the underside of the faucet, you’ll have anywhere between 1-4 nuts to unscrew that are holding the faucet (and handles, if applicable) to the countertop. It’s easiest to do this part laying on your back with a headlamp.
  4. If you’re lucky, the nuts will be easy to see and grip. If the space is too tight for a normal wrench, you may consider a basin wrench; these are specifically designed to fit into small spaces for this purpose. As a last resort, you may need to cut the nut or threaded stem — be sure to wear proper safety goggles and use caution, since you’re cutting metal above your face inside a cabinet! If this is you right now, you’ve earned all the gold stars.
  5. Once all the nut(s) are off, you should be able to pull the faucet off from above the countertop, pulling the supply lines through with it.
  6. Clean the area around the holes in the countertop, scraping with a razor if you need to.

How to Replace a Kitchen Faucet

If you’re re-installing a faucet you just removed, refer back to the picture you took in step 1 and perform the remaining steps in reverse. A new faucet will come with installation instructions specific to that faucet, but below are the general steps on how to install a kitchen faucet:

  1. From above, slide the faucet and handles (if separate) into the cover plate and into the countertop holes. Most models have specific o-rings that get inserted at this time to prevent leaks; refer to your instructions if you have them
  2. From below now, screw in the mounting nuts to keep the upper assembly in place. This is a good time to call in a friend for a second set of hands so you’re sure to install the faucet straight.

2. If you have a sprayer arm, drop that in and connect it to the diverter (below the faucet). It may also come with a weight to keep the sprayer hose from twisting and kinking.

3. Connect your cold tap to your cold water supply, and your hot tap to your hot water supply.

4. When all parts are connected, turn your water valves back on by turning counterclockwise. After letting each fixture flush for a few seconds, you can reinstall the aerators you previously removed.

5. Check for leaks at every connection point! And don’t forget to check that you’ve got your hot and cold lines attached to the right water lines.

Voila! You now know how to remove a kitchen faucet, how to fix a leaky faucet (in a kitchen, you rarely do), and how to replace a kitchen faucet. As always, if you’re coming across something tricky or unexpected, get a Fixer on the horn! We can help you through your specific situation to help you back on track.

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How to Repair a Bathroom Faucet

How to Repair a Leaky Bathroom Faucet

If your bathroom faucet is leaking or dripping, it’s generally a problem with the cartridge. Unlike kitchen faucets, it can be worthwhile to replace the cartridge(s) in a bathroom sink. They tend to be easier to find, less expensive, and it means you can avoid having to replace any matching fixtures in your bathroom.

How to Replace a Bathroom Faucet Cartridge

In a bathroom sink faucet, check the handles for one of three common ways to access the cartridge(s):

  1. Turn off the water at the valves, and open the faucet to drain the lines. Plug the sink drain so you don’t lose any small pieces during your repair.
  2. If there is a plastic disc on your faucet handle(s), it will usually pry up with a flathead screwdriver, and then unscrew with a Phillips screwdriver.
  3. If there is a set screw on the handle(s), try using an allen wrench to unscrew it and remove the decorative part of the handle(s).
  4. If there is no plastic disc and no set screw, you can try simply unscrewing the part of the handle connecting it to the rest of the faucet or sink. This would look like some kind of collar, and you should be careful not to scratch the fixture if you’re using tools.

Once you’ve removed the decorative part of the handle, there should be another bonnet nut holding the cartridge in place, or sometimes a C- or U- shaped clip. Remove the cartridge, and bring it with you to the store to find its replacement. If your faucet has two cartridges, it’s recommended you replace both even if just one is faulty.

To do the steps in reverse: Insert the new cartridge(s), replace the clip or bonnet nut that holds it in place, and replace the decorative handle(s). Always remove the faucet aerator before turning the water supply back on in case some sediment wants to escape, and after flushing the lines, you can replace the faucet aerator. Ta da! Well done.

How to Replace a Bathroom Faucet

 If you’re not able to find a new cartridge for your faucet, or you want to replace it for aesthetic reasons, you’ll follow a process much like the one for kitchen faucets.

  1. Turn off your water at the valves, and open your bathroom faucet to drain the lines and relieve pressure. Test the max hot water, max cold, and everywhere in between to make sure that your valves are fully operational.
  2. Plug the drain in your sink so you don’t drop any pieces down
  3. Take a picture of how everything is currently installed — you never know when you’ll need to refer to the original setup!

How to Remove a Bathroom Faucet

  1. Using a bucket to catch any drips, disconnect the water supply lines from the valves.
  2. From underneath the faucet, unscrew the nut(s) holding the faucet to the sink or countertop
  3. Remove the spring clip on the pivot rod, allowing the lift rod to lift out freely. Most new faucets will come with new pull up stoppers, but if not, your old one should be compatible as long as it’s not broken
  4. Carefully remove the faucet from the top
  5. Clean the area surrounding the faucet holes thoroughly, scraping with a razor if need be

How to Install a Bathroom Faucet

A new bathroom faucet will come with instructions specific to that model, but here are the general steps to take:

  1. From above, drop the faucet into the cover plate (if applicable) and into the holes on the sink or countertop
  2. From below, screw on the mounting nut(s) to secure the faucet and handle(s) into place
  3. Attach the cold and hot supply lines to the faucet and to the valves
  4. Drop in the lift rod, and use the spring clip to secure it to the pivot rod or clevis strap in the closed position. You may need to lift, drop, and adjust the spring clip position several times to get the lift rod working in a sensible way
  5. Remove the aerator if it came attached
  6. Turn the water supply lines back on (couterclockwise), and check for leaks. Also check that the hot water is hot and the cold is cold
  7. Replace the aerator once the lines have been flushed of any sediment
  8. Wash your hands. You earned it.

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How to Fix a Leaky Shower Faucet

If you’re looking for how to repair a leaky shower faucet, or how to fix a leaky shower head, there are 3 things you can check:

  1. Check to make sure that the shower head is screwed tightly into the pipe coming from the wall. A loose connection can leak water, but it’s easily tightened. Don’t use tools to tighten a shower head; you could damage the connection point or worse, the pipe.
  2. Remove the shower head and make sure that all of the o-rings are in good condition and placed where they ought to be placed. Sometimes they can fold on themselves and cause a poor seal.
  3. Lastly, if you have the shower head off and it still drips with the handle in the off position, you likely have a problem with the cartridge. It is much easier to replace a shower cartridge than a whole shower faucet.

In order to replace the cartridge in your shower:

  1. Start by turning off the water at the nearest valve. Oftentimes for a shower, this means turning off the main water supply.
  2. Turn your shower faucet all the way on, at hot and at cold, to drain the line, until all the water stops.
  3. Find the set screw on the shower handle and unscrew it to remove the handle. Or, if your shower handle has a plastic disc, pop it off with a flathead screwdriver and remove the screw behind it. This should reveal the escutcheon’s screws, which you can also remove, revealing the cartridge.
  4. Remove the cartridge. You’ll want to replace it with the same model, so bring it with you to the store if you’re shopping in person. It may be held in place with a clip or a nut, and it may require pliers or a cartridge puller to extract.

How to Replace a Shower Faucet

Now that you know how to fix a leaky shower faucet, replacing it is going to be a piece of cake — as long as your new faucet is compatible with your shower valve. If you can find the make and model of your existing fixture, a little online research should point you to options that won’t require knowing how to replace a shower valve.

  1. Turn the water off at the nearest shut off valve. This may be at the water main.
  2. Remove the decorative piece of the handle; either by prying off the plastic disc to reveal the screw underneath, or by unscrewing a set screw located on the underside.
  3. Remove the screws holding the escutcheon in place, and the trim sleeve.
  4. Install the new handle according to package directions.
  5. Remove all aerators for fixtures before restoring water supply to flush the lines.
  6. Check for leaks, and to ensure that hot is hot and cold is cold.

If your new shower faucet also came with a matching shower head:

  1. Unscrew the old shower head
  2. Clean the pipe threads and re-wrap them with thread tape
  3. Screw on the new shower head. Hand tighten, don’t use tools.
  4. Voila! One of the easiest bathroom upgrades you can do.

How to Replace a Bathtub Faucet

If you want to know how to fix a leaky bathtub faucet, the answer is usually to replace it. A simple one can cost about $15, and even the high design spouts run under $50. Once you’ve picked out your new spout:

  1. Remove the old spout by unscrewing the set screw located on the underside of the spout. If there’s no screw holding it in place, it may simply unscrew from the pipe holding it in place.
  2. Follow the instructions that came with your new tub spout. Many come with a peel & stick foam ring to secure to the wall first.
  3. Place your spout over the pipe and against the foam ring, if provided. Straighten the spout and tighten the screw.
  4. Finish by putting a bead of caulk all the way around where the spout meets the wall. Smoothe the caulk with your finger, and don’t expose it to water for at least a few hours, according to package directions.

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