There are few things you can do to spruce up the look of your bathroom with a better bang for your buck than removing and replacing an old bathroom faucet. Say goodbye to that outdated leaky faucet from the 1980s, and say hello to a sleek modern faucet that will take your décor game to the next level.
Generally, the trickiest part about replacing a bathroom faucet is removing the old faucet. This is especially true if you’re dealing with a faucet that hasn’t been replaced for many years. These faucets can have several issues – including frozen mounting nuts and stuck valves.
Luckily, all you need to remove an old bathroom faucet are some basic tools and a little know-how. You will need to get down underneath the sink to access the mounting nuts and shutoff valves, so be prepared to use a little elbow grease.
Keep in mind the process will be slightly different for each faucet. Faucets – and sinks – can have a number of different designs, so you may need to tweak the process slightly for your faucet.
Tools & Materials Needed
- Needle nose or channel lock pliers
- Basin wrench
- Spray penetrating oil (Optional)
- Utility Knife
How to Remove an Old Bathroom Faucet – Guide
Step 1: Turn off Shutoff Valves
The first step to any plumbing project is shutting off the water supply to whatever you’re working on. Place a bucket or large bowl underneath the tube connections to catch any water that might spill as you loosen them.
The shutoff valves are located under the sink and can be turned off by rotating them clockwise as far as they’ll go. Even after turning the shutoff valves, there will still be some water left inside the fixture, so you’ll want to turn on both faucet valves to drain whatever’s left.
This is a good opportunity to check the functionality of your shutoff valves. If the water continues to dribble even after turning the shutoff valves, then they’re no longer working properly, and you’ll want to replace them as well. In this case, you’ll need to shut off the main water supply to your house before continuing.
Step 2: Disconnect Lift Rod and Supply Lines
Next up, you’ll want to disconnect the lift rod from the spring clip. A lift rod is a rod that connects the faucet to the drainpipe below. It allows you to open and shut the drain stopper from a lever on the faucet.
Doing this will be slightly different depending on the design, in my case, it required loosening with a screwdriver and then prying apart by hand. Not all faucets feature a lift rod, so if yours doesn’t skip this step.
Next, use your pliers to disconnect the supply lines from the shutoff valves. The supply tubes are typically flexible braided stainless steel, but can sometimes be solid copper tubes.
If these tubes are starting to show their age, now’s a good time to replace them with new ones.
Step 3: Loosen Mounting Nut(s)
Now for the trickiest part of the entire operation – removing the mounting nut securing the faucet to the sink surface. As the mounting nut (or nuts) are tucked below the faucet in that narrow, awkward space behind the basin, getting at them with regular pliers or vice grips can be difficult to downright impossible.
Luckily, there’s a plumbing tool designed precisely for this task – the basin wrench. This handy little wrench features a long slim handle and pivoting spring-loaded head designed to navigate into the inaccessible area directly below the faucet and remove the mounting nut.
While you won’t be reaching for it that often, spending the $20 or so on a basin wrench is well worth it. It will save you the serious headache of trying to wiggle your arm in between supply lines and turn the mounting nut from an awkward position. Believe me when I tell you this is one of the most frustrating tasks you’ll ever attempt!
If you’re still having trouble loosening the mounting nuts, apply some penetrating oil to nuts and threads and wait 15 minutes for it to work its way in. Then try loosening the nut once again. Also, if you’re having a hard time getting to the mounting nut, you may need to disassemble the drain trap to make enough room.
Once you get the mounting nut or nuts loosened, remove them completely from their threaded tailpieces.
Step 4: Remove the Faucet
With the mounting nut or nuts removed, you should be able to carefully pry the faucet away from the sink. If it’s sealed off with caulk, use a utility knife to cut away the old caulk before removing the faucet.
The above process on how to remove an old bathroom faucet will work for any top-mounted faucet. This includes pretty much all modern faucets as well as most older faucets.
There are also bottom-mount faucets out there, which have most of the faucets located below the sink. If you run into one of these, the process will be similar except the mounting nuts are located above the sink rather than below it.