Repair or Replace Your Sink Faucet?

During the past couple of weeks, I’ve gotten lots of questions about kitchen faucets ranging from repair to new installations.

While doing video consultations, the first thing I look at is the age and then the overall condition of the faucet. From there we discuss the availability of parts and then ease of repair.  We may also talk about the replacement of the faucet.  Yes, all faucets can be repaired, but there comes a point when replacement is the best option. If you decide to repair your faucet and run into problems, we can help with that.

If you’re replacing the faucet, pick the design you like and the finish you like. The brand really isn’t a factor unless you’re buying a $50.00 faucet. Try not to do that unless that’s the only option.  As they say, you get what you pay for!  You don’t want to be rebuilding or replacing it in a year.

If you have a faucet that is dripping, leaking all over the counter, or doesn’t turn or rotate, start with what kind of condition it’s in. Is there corrosion, a peeling finish, or is it banged up?  Do you like the looks of the faucet, the design, or the way it functions? If you like the faucet or need it to last a few more years, think about repairing it. Repairing a faucet by changing internal parts is called rebuilding. All faucets have internal or external parts that can be replaced.

Most modern faucets, made in the last 15 years or so, can be rebuilt. Depending on the brand of the faucet, parts can be found locally, or even online. If you have the original paperwork from the faucet, many times there will be a list of replaceable parts and even part numbers mentioned. In the paperwork, usually towards the end of the booklet, you will find the warranty. Read this warrantee, while all manufacturers are different, you may find that parts may be covered if you are the original owner. Some have a set amount of time for the warranty, others are guaranteed for life. The same goes for the finish of the faucet. Most of the major faucet manufacturers warranty their product for life, or at least limited lifetime guarantees, as you have seen on TV. If in doubt about the warranty, call the phone number to find out. If you have the original paperwork, there will be a model, and model number of your faucet, they will need this to determine the status of the faucet warranty. I don’t think I have ever seen a faucet that doesn’t come with a warranty of some sort.

If you have decided to rebuild your faucet, before you do anything, make sure you have all the needed parts and tools for the repair. You don’t want to do it twice!

The Tools Needed

The tools needed will vary from one repair to the next.  Start with having both straight and Phillips head screwdrivers, in good shape, and of different sizes.  You may also want to have channel-lock pliers, pipe wrenches, and my favorite…vice grips, both small and larger. Adjustable crescent wrenches are always needed.  Allen wrenches; both standard and metric sizes. Sometimes basin wrenches and strap wrenches are needed. Plumber’s grease or silicone grease and plumber’s putty will be used. Have a good flashlight ready and old towels, rags, or use paper towels.

Shut The Water Off

Second, if you have shutoff valves under the sink, make sure that they are shutting the water off 100%. The same goes for the main, whole house water supply shutoff.  If you are using the shutoffs under the sink, make sure that you know where the main is, and that it works! If you have an emergency when you are working on the faucet, or a water emergency in the future, knowing where the main shutoff is can save you a lot of time and possible damage to your home.

Depending on the age of the faucet, removing parts will go easy or be almost impossible! Water quality and the age of the faucet play a big factor in this. Have patience and take your time, don’t rush. Taking the faucet apart, again, varies per brand and model. Handels may have hidden screws under caps or little plugs. They may have allen screws in the back or under the handle lever. When removing these screws, make sure that you have something covering the sink drain, they will find their way down it! Once the screws are removed or loosened the handle should lift off, if not, some wiggling and pulling is needed to remove it. Some are harder than others. When new parts are gotten, many times the instructions come with them to help with removal and replacement.

Trying to go through every different make and model of faucet repair would take forever so that being said, look at the parts you have and what the faucet looks like. You should be able to decide the next step in the removal process.  Any screws that have been removed should be greased before reinstalling. Some new parts come with silicone grease, if they do, use it!

Now that you have successfully repaired your faucet, several steps are needed to finish the job. Turning the water on slowly helps “set” the new parts in place. Once the water is on, inspect for leaks before turning the unit on. Slowly operate the handle from cold to hot while inspecting for leaks. If no leaks are present, make sure that it rotates smoothly. If it is a pull-out faucet or has a side spray, check its operation. Even if all the repairs were above the sink, check underneath the sink where the faucet sets on the sink. While down there, check the shutoffs for any leaks. Sometimes when shutoffs are used, they will leak when turned back on. In most cases, the packing can be reset to stop the leak. Let the faucet sit for a while and then recheck for leaks, check under the sink again too.
Now that the repair is complete, pat yourself on the back and congratulate yourself!

Sometimes a little help from Virtual Plumbing Assistant is all you need to move forward in the repair. Virtual consultations through your smartphone are a great way to keep the repair process moving.

Enjoy the day!!

Interested in a sump pump replacement I assisted a customer with?  See it here.

John Burr
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