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Installing A New Bathroom Faucet

Learn how to install a lavatory with drain

Take heart, amateur plumbers: you *can* install a faucet. Sure, you're probably thinking, here's an exercise guaranteed to bring a whole new collection of swear words into my vocabulary. Well, it needn't be that way. The keys to success are preparation and patience.

One place to plan ahead is when you're out buying that new faucet. Remember, you'll have to remove the old one. So save yourself a second trip and buy all the stuff you'll need to wrench that old devil free of its sink-ly moorings.

Here are some things you'll need for this arduous task:

  • penetrating oil (to help ease out an old, rusted faucet)
  • tubing (check out the tubing you already have; if it's crimped or fragile, get new tubing)
  • cutting tools (to cut tubing or mounting stands).

Also, make sure you have these basics:

  • a screwdriver
  • a basin wrench
  • an adjustable wrench
  • plumber's putty.

Step number one, whether you're ripping out an old faucet or just installing a new one, is to shut off the water, either at the supply stops under the sink (those elliptical chrome handles under the sink that you've wondered about all these years) or at the water meter. Failure to do this will result in a re-enactment of your vacation to Old Faithful or Hoover Dam or someplace else where lots of water goes all over the place.

Taking out an old faucet: Loosen the lift-lever clevis from the pop-up's lift rod and remove the trap by loosening the slip nuts.

Now then...Unfasten the nuts from the supply tubes that connect the stop valves (the chrome ellipses, remember?) to the faucet shanks. Remove the supply tubes. If they're in good shape, you can use them again. If not, that's why you bought the tubing.

The faucet stays put thanks to what are called jamb nuts. These are under the faucet, under the sink. Loosen and remove the jamb nuts from the shanks. Then clear the sink deck and remove old faucet. Sweat. Spit. Swear. Sweat some more. It's hard, ain't it? Hey, that's what that penetrating oil is for. Alright!

To take out the drain assembly, loosen large brass nut that holds it to the bottom of the sink. Push the drain tube up and back from the drain flange. Drop the tube from basin opening and remove whatever plumbing putty is left behind. You have to clean around the drain thoroughly. Get all those putty remnants outta there.

Putting in a new faucet: Insert faucet shanks through the base gasket and into the holes of the sink. Thread jamb nuts onto shanks, align faucet from above the sink and tighten. (It's so much easier when you know what these things are called, isn't it?) Note: Don't overtighten!

Installing the pop-up drain: Drop the pop-up assembly lift rod through the hole at the back of the faucet, making sure it's aligned. Thread flexible supply tubes onto the faucet shanks and tighten. Press plumber's putty around the drain flange (read warning labels), and feed the drain tube through the basin opening (threads should appear in the bowl). Thread the flange onto the drain tube.

(This next part could be a tad tricky, because you'll be underneath the faucet and sink.) Tighten the brass drain. Position the lift lever to point backwards. Using the clevis assembly, connect the vertical lift rod to the horizontal lift lever. Press the lever downward, slide the clevis onto it and secure it with the spring-clip. Tighten the clevis nut, keeping the lever down. Thread the lower ends of the flexible supply tubes onto the stop valves. Then connect the drain assembly to in-wall piping and hand-tighten the nuts.

At this point, the water supply to the faucet should still be off. Make sure you've installed faucet properly by removing the aerator from the end of the spout and turning the handles on full blast.

Now turn on the water supply. Listen as the new faucet struggles for life. (You'll notice what a marvel that aerator you removed is, taming that unruly torrent of water into the graceful vertical shaft you're used to.) Check for leaks. Let the lines flush for one full minute without moving the handles, to remove any debris. Once flushed, turn the faucet off and replace the aerator.

You did it! Congratulations. Now, wash your hands. They're filthy.

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