By Lisa Skolnik, Special to Tribune Newspapers
With plumbers averaging $75 to $125 an hour, "you can save a couple of hundred dollars by installing your new faucet yourself," says contractor James Carey, co-author of "Home Maintenance for Dummies" and co-host of the nationally syndicated radio show "On the House" (onthehouse.com).
Here's his game plan for the job:
1. If possible, remove the old faucet before you buy the new one (see #3) so you know exactly what size faucet to buy (standard offerings are wide-spread, center-spread or a single unit). Faucets come from the manufacturer with everything (except the water lines) — including step-by-step directions.
2. Before installing, have the proper tools and supplies on hand. These include a flashlight (to see under the sink), locking pliers, an Allen wrench, an adjustable wrench, a basin wrench (for tight spaces), pliers, putty or caulk, new water supply lines (if you need them), Teflon tape, a utility knife, rags and cleaning products.
3. Turn off the water supply, open the tap and drain out all the water. Look under the sink, find the water supply lines and disconnect them at the base of the faucet. If the faucet is top-mounted, the nuts are located under the sink. Loosen and remove them with pliers or a basin wrench, then lift off the faucet. If the faucet is bottom-mounted, take off the faucet handles and covers to expose the nuts, use a wrench to remove them, then lift off the faucet.
4. Once the faucet is off, scrape away any old caulking or dirt built up around the faucet with rubbing alcohol, vinegar or a cleaning product.
5. To install the new faucet, use the provided instructions. If bottom mounted, put the faucet in place, put on the washers and mounting nuts, hand tighten and then tighten with a wrench. Don't overtighten. Modern fixtures are designed to be installed hand-tight; overtightening can break the sink. Use caulking or putty around the base, then install the top of the faucet and handles. If top mounted, put down the putty or caulk before placing the faucet into the sink openings first.
6. Once the faucet is attached, reinstall the water lines, turn the water back on, let it run a few minutes and check for leaks.