Faucet Schmaucet

Hi everyone! Exciting times are here… we have my all-time favorite guest blogger joining us: my husband, Dan!  Now, settle in for a story about replacing our hideous 80’s faucet with the gleaming bronzed faucet if my dreams.

As Krista and I were nearing the end of our budget bathroom renovation, I was informed that despite our previous decision to keep the faucet, we would, in fact, be replacing it.  Although not thrilled about the idea of spending more money on the bathroom, I will admit that the few changes we had already made looked good, and replacing our hideous faucet with one that matched the new bronze hardware would be worthwhile.

Krista did all the research and we both agreed on the Moen 6610ORB, a centerset faucet that matched the oil rubbed bronze finish with the rest of the bathroom.  The Moen faucet cost about $130 with tax, and we got it on Amazon (with a gift card from my parents – thanks mom and dad!).  While there were some very similar looking faucets at less than half the price, we decided to spend the extra on a quality brand.  As the saying goes, “buy once, cry once”.  Better to not save money on poor quality only to have to replace it with the faucet I should have bought in the first place.

When the faucet arrived, I locked myself in the bathroom with my tools, turned on Pandora, and got to work with the first task, removing the old faucet.  Below are the tools I used, starting in the top left with a razor paint scraper, plumber’s putty, putty knife, screwdriver, Teflon pipe tape below, basin wrench, and two adjustable wrenches.  I ended up not needing the putty knife or basin wrench, and I had to add in a pair of groove joint pliers.

Here’s the vanity with all the parts laid out.  Below the new faucet are two new supply lines I bought separately.  It’s always a good idea to replace the supply lines whenever you’re replacing a faucet.  In this case I didn’t have a choice since the current supply lines were rigid pipe with a different thread size to mate with the faucet.  I believe the flexible lines were around $5 each.

Step one: Empty out the vanity.  Most likely if you’re doing a bathroom renovation, it’s full of stuff.

Step two: Lay down a towel beneath the sink and all the valves.

Step three: Turn off the water.

For those of you new to this, “Righty-Tighty, Lefty-Loosey”.  That means you turn the valves clockwise to tighten them and shut off the water.

Next, I removed the pop-up drain assembly.  If you’ve ever wondered how you get the drain to go up and down by pulling on a knob on the faucet, this is how.  That knob is actually a long rod that connects to an arm beneath the sink.  That arm goes into the drain pipe and connects to the pop-up drain.  Pulling up on that knob on the faucet brings the arm down, which pulls the pop-up drain down with it.  Removing this was just a matter of loosening a screw and a plastic nut.

Here’s the removed assembly.

With the assembly out of the way, I had enough room to maneuver an adjustable wrench and I unscrewed the nuts on the supply lines, two at the valves and two at the faucet.  Before I could remove the faucet, I had to remove these brackets which tightened against the underside of the sink.  With those removed and the supply line nuts unscrewed, I could pull out the faucet.

The next several minutes were spent removing the old plumber’s putty and cleaning up the surface to get ready for the new faucet.  The razor scraper was more suited to the task than the putty knife.  Although I was able to remove all the major pieces, there was a residue left over.  After some quick Googling, I rubbed some mineral spirits on those spots.  After letting it sit for a few minutes, I gently scrubbed it away with a Brillo pad.

The next task was to remove the old drain assembly and mounting ring (the ring around the sink drain that the pop-up drain sits in).  Beneath that, I loosened the nut on the drain assembly as far as it would go with the groove joint pliers.  Doing so let me push the whole assembly up through the bottom of the sink a little bit, enabling me to unscrew the mounting ring.  With that removed, I cleaned up the plumber’s putty the same way I did for the faucet.

To completely remove the drain assembly, I had to take off the p-trap, that PVC “U” beneath the sink.  I made sure to have a bucket ready (actually a yogurt container I pulled from the recycling) since the p-trap is filled with water.   Because it is filled with water, the p-trap allows liquid to go through it down the drain, but acts as a barrier to gasses from the sewer.  I made sure to have it removed only a short time.

Shown below is the old drain assembly.  The black gasket seals the assembly to the bottom of the sink.  The yellow gasket seals the metal pipe to the PVC p-trap so I just cleaned it off to reuse for the new drain assembly.

The assembly was two parts that I had to thread together.  To get a good seal, I wrapped the thread with Teflon pipe tape, and then screwed the two parts together.

Next, I put the yellow gasket from the old assembly onto it and screwed it into the p-trap.

Then I reattached the p-trap.

With the drain assembly in, I could install the new mounting ring.  The trick with plumber’s putty is to roll it around between your hands to warm it up and get it soft.  Then you roll into a long piece that you can wrap around the edge of the drain.  As you can see below, I did a horrible job.  I would push the putty down against the sink and then when I lifted my fingers the putty came back up, stuck to them.  Don’t worry, what you see below wasn’t the final product: I ended up fixing it a bit.

To secure the mounting ring, I pushed the drain assembly up, screwed the mounting ring to it, then pulled the whole thing back down again.  By tightening the nut on the drain assembly, I was able to secure the drain assembly to the sink.  This also squeezed some of the putty out, which I just wiped away.

After completing the drain assembly, it was time to move onto the faucet.  To make things easy, this faucet replaced the need for more plumber’s putty with a big, foam gasket.  I placed it down onto the sink then put the faucet down on top.

With part of the gasket sticking out from the base of the faucet, I realized there was a problem.  As you can see below, the base of the faucet had a pretty significant dent.  If I had to, I probably could have bent it back, but I didn’t want risk damaging it even further.  Instead, I disassembled everything that I had just installed, put it back in the packaging, filed a request to return a defective item, and bought a new faucet.

Womp, womp.

After disassembling the faulty equipment, I poured some water into the p-trap, to keep the bathroom sealed from sewer gas while we waited for the new faucet to arrive.

Two days later I got the new faucet.  I repeated the work on the drain assembly, which took less than 10 minutes.  Then I put the new foam gasket on the sink, dropped the new faucet on, and tightened it down.  Unlike the old chrome faucet which had mounting brackets beneath it, this one had plastic nuts which threaded all the way up the supply inlet, tightening it onto the sink.  With the faucet tightened down, I attached the supply lines, which was just a matter of screwing them into place.

The last, and hardest part of the whole assembly, was setting up the pop-up drain.  I dropped the bronze pull rod into the faucet and attached to it the metal bracket with all those holes.  Then I dropped the pop-up drain into the sink and put the drain arm into it through the mini extension off the side of the pipe.  The other end of the arm went through the metal bracket.  Up to this point it was pretty straightforward, whereas the difficulty came in getting the faucet to actually function.  I spent around 15 minutes playing around with where the different parts connected to each other until I finally got it to work smoothly.

You may notice I left the tags on the supply lines.  I wasn’t completely sure if they were the correct size so I left them on in case I needed to return them.  Maybe ten years later when one of the lines breaks, I’ll go back to Home Depot with the broken supply line in my hand and say, “I just bought this yesterday and I didn’t notice that it was broken”.  They’ll see the tag still on it and let me exchange it.

Just kidding, I would never do that.

Anyway, with everything hooked up, I loosened the shutoff valves and tested it out.  Everything seemed to work.

I wrapped some paper towels on the valves beneath the sink and every few minutes checked to see if they were wet, indicating a leak from a loose connecting.  The towels came back dry so I cleaned up and called it a day.  Here’s a fancy picture of the faucet in action.




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