Replacing your kitchen faucet is a simple upgrade that can last a lifetime
Old faucet got you down? Most of us use our kitchen faucet every day, so if you're not in love with yours, it might be time for a new one. With a little hard work, you can learn how to replace a kitchen faucet and enjoy a fixture upgrade in just a few steps. This complete guide will show you how to get the job done like a total pro, so you don’t have to live with leaks and low water pressure.
Why Should You Replace Your Kitchen Faucet?
The short answer is performance. Eventually, your kitchen faucet won’t perform as well as it used to—whether that means a constant drip, tough-to-turn handles, or poor water pressure. The typical kitchen faucet lasts 15 to 20 years, but hard water and corrosion could speed along the aging process. Here are some signs that you should replace your faucet:
It (including the under-sink components) is rusted and corroded
It has mineral buildup that impacts the performance
It leaks and fixing a leaky kitchen faucet isn't simple
It has poor water pressure
How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Faucet?
Most mid-range kitchen faucets cost around $160 to $345. At this price, you can find a durable faucet that will last the life of your kitchen. High-end models run as high as $800 with features like high-quality finishes and touchless sensors. If you hire a pro to replace your faucet, you’ll also have to pay for labor. Most plumbers cost $45 to $200 per hour.
How to Prep for a DIY Faucet Installation
Installing a new kitchen faucet isn’t the easiest DIY—but if you’re handy, organized, and have a little plumbing know-how, it won’t take too long. Before you sink into this project, you’ll need to do some serious prep work. Follow these steps.
1. Purchase a New Kitchen Faucet
Installation is easiest if you choose a faucet that’s compatible with your existing space. The number of taps makes a huge difference. Your faucet will either have the water supply lines passing through a single hole or multiple holes. There are two main faucet types:
Two-handle faucets: These have three installation holes, typically 8 inches apart.
One-handle faucets: These have one installation hole.
If you want to upgrade from a two-handle to a one-handle faucet, you’ll need to install an escutcheon plate or cover plate to hide the unused holes. Before you choose your faucet, look under your sink at the previous installation. Make sure you buy a model that matches up with the existing holes. Don’t be afraid to measure.
2. Gather All Necessary Tools and Materials
Aside from the new fixture, you’ll need a few things before swapping out your old faucet. Gather the following tools and materials:
Zip ties (optional)
You may also want to keep a small bucket and some towels nearby to catch leaking water—just as a precaution. Don’t forget to wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from water and debris.
3. Clear Out the Space Under Your Sink
It will be easier to change a kitchen faucet if you have a clean workspace. Temporarily move all the stuff underneath your kitchen sink so you can freely access the area.
4. Shut Off the Water (and Power) Supply
Before starting any plumbing project, always shut off the electricity near the fixture (especially if you have a garbage disposal) and the water supply. You’ll find valves under the sink that control the hot and cold water. Turn them clockwise to shut them off.
Use a pair of pliers or rags to improve your grip if the valves under the sink are older, rusted, or stuck. You might want to turn off the main valve first—just in case the valves under your sink are corroded enough to break and spring a leak. The main water valve for most homes is in the basement or crawl space.
Replacing a Kitchen Faucet
Replacing a kitchen faucet involves two main steps: removing the old faucet and installing the new faucet. Get in a comfortable position (using a pillow for support if necessary) and get started.
How to Remove the Old Faucet
Before you start, double-check that your water supply and electricity are switched off. You don’t want any accidents. After that, turn on your work light to see inside the dark cabinet, and follow these steps:
1. Disconnect the Water Supply Lines
Your water supply lines connect to the hot and cold water valves underneath your sink. If you haven’t yet done so, use your wrench to disconnect the lines by turning the nuts clockwise; as you do this, hold the water pipe, so it doesn’t shift out of place.
2. Disconnect the Faucet
You’ll notice that the nuts beneath your sink hold the faucet in place. Use pliers to loosen these nuts—or use a basin wrench if the nuts are stubborn.
3. Loosen Stubborn Nuts
Sometimes, you cannot easily disconnect your faucet, but there are a few ways you can troubleshoot the problem. If there’s rust, use the wire brush to brush away corrosion. If the wire brush doesn’t help, take your lubricant spray and spray it on the nuts. Wait at least half an hour—or overnight if it’s really stuck—before you try again.
If the nuts still don’t budge, you may need a hacksaw to cut them off. If you’re uncomfortable with hacking away at the metal, you may want to hire a handyperson—better safe than injured!
4. Remove the Faucet
Once you’ve removed the nuts, you should be able to lift the faucet out of the holes.
5. Clean the Area
Tidy up the area, and remove any stray sealant left behind using your putty knife and sponge with water.
How to Install a New Kitchen Faucet
Once the old faucet is gone, it’s time to install the new one. If your new faucet isn’t compatible with your existing counter space, you’ll need to drill extra holes or install an escutcheon plate with a gasket to prevent leakage. Drilling isn’t always the best DIY—especially if you have quartz or granite counters. You may want to hire a pro who can modify your granite without cracking your counter.
After that, installation should be fairly straightforward. Most faucets come with an installation manual. Here are general steps for how to install a kitchen faucet.
1. Put Your New Faucet in Place
Hold your new faucet over the counter, and feed the faucet lines through the holes. Make sure your faucet is in the proper position, and make adjustments if necessary.
2. Attach Your Faucet Underneath the Counter
Install the washers and nuts underneath the sink that hold your faucet in place. Ensure your faucet is in the right position before tightening the nuts and brackets.
3. Connect the Water Supply
Many new faucets come with new water lines, so you don’t have to reuse the old ones. To keep the supply lines watertight, wrap the threads with plumber’s tape before you screw them into the hot and cold water lines using your wrench. If the supply lines are sticking out, use the zip ties to fasten them together so you have more room under your sink.
4. Turn On the Water and Test for Leaks
At this point, turn the water back on wherever you turned it off, either under the sink or at the main valve. Turn on the faucet, and check all the hose connections for leaks while it runs. Let the water run for about a minute, and tighten anything that drips or leaks. Repeat this process several times over the next 48 to 72 hours to ensure there are no leaks.
Tips for Choosing the Right Faucet
A Similar Model Will Make Things Easier
Installing a new kitchen faucet is simplest if you choose the same make and model as your previous faucet. It will fit right into the existing space, making plumbing mishaps less likely. Even if you want to upgrade to a different model, you can keep things simple by sticking with the same number of handles.
When it comes to faucets, the least costly option isn’t always best. There’s a huge range of quality among different price points. Faucets that cost less than $100 are typically made from chrome-plated plastic and will wear more quickly. Faucets that cost more than $100 are typically made from solid brass with double plating and have higher quality controls that are less prone to wear. If your kitchen gets busy, you may want to splurge on a faucet with a longer lifespan.
Replacing a Kitchen Faucet: DIY vs. Hiring a Pro
Replacing a kitchen faucet is on the simpler side of plumbing projects. Some DIYers find it’s a great introduction to the art of plumbing—but it’s still plumbing. That means there’s some serious room for error—and by error, we mean costly water damage and plumbing repairs.
This DIY is relatively straightforward if you’re replacing your old faucet with a near-identical model. You can save around $260 to $480 in labor costs by doing the job yourself. If you need to start drilling holes in your countertop or modifying your plumbing system, it’s best to hire a licensed local plumber who can do the job safely.
Frequently Asked Questions
As far as plumbing goes, replacing a kitchen faucet is an entry-level project. That said, you may run into complications. If your faucet is incompatible with your countertop or you have to alter your plumbing, you may want to hire a pro.
A plumber typically spends around 30 minutes to one hour replacing a kitchen faucet. It could take longer if you need additional plumbing work.
Most faucets come with a rubber or plastic gasket that prevents leaks—but that’s not always the case. If your faucet didn’t come with a gasket or it’s leaking, use a caulk gun to seal the gaps and prevent water damage.