Do You Need A Plumber To Install A Faucet?


Over time, with enough use every single faucet that’s on Earth right now will fail at some point. Even the most delicately used faucet will eventually give way and be ready to passed on to the next life.

Plumber’s can be a pricey option to go with although quite a safe option, especially if you have no handyman (or woman) experience.

The real question though is are you in dire need of the tradesman or woman to come and do the job for you or are you capable of doing it yourself?

So, do you need a plumber to install a faucet? The answer is not always. Faucets are for the most part, relatively easy fixtures to install and require very few tools and a little know-how. The job can be done in less than an hour and could cost you under 100$.

In fact, I believe the vast majority of people reading this will be able to handle the task, regardless of experience.

Continue reading to learn more about why you should install a faucet on your own, as well as when you might consider just going with a plumber instead.

This post features:

  • Tools & cost to install a faucet
  • How to install a faucet
    • Removal of old
    • Installing the new
  • Sink holes & spacing for a faucet
  • How much is a plumber going to charge you?
  • Do you really need to replace your faucet?

The Tools & Cost Required To Install A Faucet

I feel this is a very important point to start with to really illustrate how easy this task can be to accomplish. Knowing what you’re in for if you decide you want to go the DIY route is, in my opinion quite important.

The Tools

The first thing you need to know is the tools required for the job. So let’s talk about what’s actually going to happen in this project.

If I were to only be allowed to use ONE tool to get this job done but I got to pick, I would pick the channel lock pliers every time.

For any tools, materials mentioned on this post I invite you to check out my recommended tools page to see exactly what product/tool I recommend and why.

A faucet requires nuts, washers and a surface to mount to (counter top) in order to keep it rigid and in place. In order for water to flow out of the end of it, it will also need a place to connect onto the water supply.

Some sinks require a lever to plug the drain, while others you can simply push on the drain plug to pop it into place. What I mean by lever is simply just the thing you pull up at the back of the faucet to plug the drain hole.

The lever style plugs in my experience only ever required the use of my hands to install…But I can see how some people may need to use pliers to tighten up some parts.

Pliers are great for twisting nuts to such a degree that your hands simply just cannot by use of leverage and the “teeth” on the end of the tool for grip.

Another version of the pliers that is specific to this job is the basin wrench. It operates on the same principle as the pliers, but allows you to work in much tighter spaces.

It does this by having the leverage portion of the tool on the bottom of the tool, while the teeth (or grip) of it is at the top portion.

If you’re dealing with a tight space behind a sink, you can simply adjust this tool to accommodate a certain length, and then twist it at the bottom, which will be in an area that you have room to work with.

I would recommend getting a pair of toothless pliers or crescent wrench as well. You may need to adjust the aesthetic parts of the faucet as well, and using something with no teeth on it can really help maintain the look of the fixture.

On many faucets, it doesn’t take much to scratch the outside, so you really want to be careful, and you can usually pick these up for around 10$-20$ each.

The space beneath a sink can be very dark and dreary. Through my time in the trades I always used my phones flashlight feature to brighten up the space, but you can easily pick up a flashlight for the purpose.

Costs

I have found that many faucets can be quite pricey, while others are super affordable. Before I ever even thought about Amazon, I always figured that base model faucets would run you around 80-100$, after looking through Amazon, I was surprised to see some that were priced at under 60$ while still maintaining aesthetic look.

The cost of the pliers that I mentioned, when I purchased them at a plumbing supplier, I paid only 24$, while the basin wrench I picked up for a measly 16$ and I only need one for the job! The great thing about these tools is that they are a one time purchase and will last you a very long time.

You may also require new water supplies to connect your faucet to and if you do, spending 20$ for a pair from your local hardware store isn’t too unreasonable.

Signs your supplies need to be changed:

  • Leaks from the ends or middle when fully & properly tightened – The rubber gasket may be dried out and cracked or the braided line may have a tear in it
  • Shoots out less water pressure than the rest of your home – You can check this by grabbing a bucket, undoing the supply lines from the faucet and opening the water supply into the bucket to see how the pressure is. This will visibly show you if there’s clogging of some sort

If you do the math, you can potentially get this job done for around 100$ or under, by yourself and with a little bit of know-how and a can-do attitude.

If your shutoff valves need to be replaced, I would recommend calling a plumber as this can be a bit more of a complex task if you aren’t sure of what you’re doing.

How To Install A Faucet

As mentioned previously, the faucet requires some form of nut and washer to hold it into place on your counter top. To access these, you will need to go below your sink and into the dark abyss.

You may need to clean your area out before you begin working, as it is always easier to maneuver around in an empty space.

Some surfaces below a sink may also be dirty, so I would either recommend cleaning them up first or wearing older clothes that you don’t care much for.

As for faucets, they come in all different shapes and sizes. I have an entire blog post on how a faucet works, so if you would like to learn more about them you can click here. I’m sure it would definitely help out with your project.

Step 1 – Removing Your Old Faucet

  • If you have an existing faucet, this will be the first place you are going to want to start. Remove the faucet by unscrewing the nuts below the faucet.

Make sure you know where your houses’s MAIN water shut off is in case you have an emergency and need to shut the water supply off. Also having your city’s utility number on hand is not a bad idea. Your main shut off valve is likely located in your basement’s mechanical room or where your water enters the building.

  • If you have shut off valves, this will be the time you are going to want to make sure they are closed. Turn the faucet on and drain out any water that’s remaining.
    • This is a great way to tell if your valves are holding as well. If you have your valves fully closed, and water is still coming out steadily, it may be an indication you need to replace a washer in your shut off valve, or just replace the shut off valve instead.
  • Righty tighty, lefty loosey. When spinning the nuts, you want to keep that saying in mind. When you spin in a clockwise direction you are tightening the nut, and when you are spinning in a counter clockwise direction you are loosening.
  • Some supply lines will be permanently attached to your existing faucet itself, if this is the case then unscrew them from the shut off valve. If this is not the case, then you are going to want to loosen them off of your faucet, as they can be reused.
  • Make sure you have some paper towels handy as there will be some excess water that’s inevitably going to seep out from the supply lines and faucet.
  • To make the job comfier, I recommend getting your hands on some kneeling pads or some old pillows to help cushion your back from the uncomfortable cabinet kick space.
  • Once all the nuts are taken off and the faucet is loose, take that sucker off and clean the dirt that was left behind underneath.

Step 2 Installing The New Faucet

  • Place the new faucet inside of the hole of the sink and hand tighten the nut and washer onto the threaded portion of the pipe with the washer going on first and then nut after. Leaving the water supply lines to be tightened up lastly.
  • Once you have the nut hand tightened all the way to the top you can look back above the sink to the faucet to check it’s position.
  • Simply adjust the faucet to look as straight and centered as you desire and then, if possible get a helper to hold the faucet exactly where you need it and then tighten up the nut with your channel lock pliers or basin wrench.
  • Next, screw the supply lines to the shut off valve. Hot is always left and cold is always right. Many supply lines will actually be color coded or will have a tag indicating which is intended to be the hot water line.
  • Once everything is tightened up, turn the shutoff valve slowly open while checking for leaking water. If this is your first time installing a faucet, you will especially want to check for leaks.

Faucet Holes & Spacing

Depending on what faucet you previously had or are deciding to get, you will have to factor in hole spacing on your sink.

What I mean by this is that you may have a faucet that requires 3 holes to accommodate it’s installation or only one hole. Thankfully, faucet manufacturers have realized this over time and have created standardized spacing in of holes.

I have a blog post going into more detail about the different types of faucets and their individual spacing needs and I illustrate this by showing you the differences between a kitchen faucet and a bathroom faucet. If you would like to check it out, you can simply click here!

You may have holes in your sink that are 4 inches total from the center of the furthest left hole, to the furthest right side hole. Also, you may have holes that are spaced more like 8 inches total width from center to center.

Ensuring you are installing the right sized faucet for your sink is important.

How Much Would A Plumber Charge To Install Your Faucet?

The next thing to consider is the cost of the plumber. Plumbers often times don’t come cheap and may charge you just to show up to your door. This could be a per the mile fee of up to a couple of bucks per mile or a flat rate charge.

The reason for this charge is because there are people who call a plumber over just to gouge some free information out of them with no actual work needed. This costs the plumber valuable time and money.

The total amount of time involved on the project will ultimately dictate what he or she will charge and that is determined by what needs to be done.

If it’s a simple faucet removal and install, it should not take more than an hour. From this, you can usually shop around to find what a plumber charges by the hour or how much they charge for a small job at a base rate.

According to houseadvisor, you could be paying anywhere from 45-200$ per hour and even higher, with a master plumber giving you the highest price (but most experience) and a local handy man at the lowest price.

You could even opt in for a base rate charge depending on the company. This could range from 200-250$ – Source and in my opinion may be a better option if you know there’s going to be more work than just a straight install.

For example, you know that alongside your faucet replacement, you want a new sink, your shut off valves need to replaced and the drains need to be fixed, it could take longer than an hour to do.

A base rate is set out for “small jobs” that could range anywhere from 1-3 hours of time. The reason for the price is so that the plumber isn’t screwing himself over if the project ends up taking too long, but alternatively can be good for a homeowner if a couple of hours is required.

However, it may be a worse thing as I have personally installed faucets in less than 20 minutes. So, for example if you would have paid by the hour, it could have hypothetically cost you less than 200$, but because base rates are the rate that they are, 200+$ for 20 minutes of work would simply be too much.

Not to throw you, the reader through a loop, but usually a decent plumber will be able to assess the install right then and there and will give you the best possible pricing option which could just mean the hourly rate.

The best thing you can ultimately do if you decide to hire a licensed professional is to dig around and do a little bit of research on what your local plumbers charge and then go from there.

Ask some friends, family members or co-workers for recommended plumbers, these are sometimes your best resource as they may have dealt with some great plumbers or ones you should avoid. Some people will swear by a certain plumber or just play the odds each time.

If you do decide to go with a plumber, and get them to pick up a faucet for you, you have to be aware that they will sometimes markup the price of the faucet and this could mean almost doubling the original cost.

My recommendation is to figure out how many holes your sink has, their spacing and then going to pick out a faucet you like based on those factors, yourself.

*Note – If you have a three hole sink, but have your eyes set on a single hole faucet you can still get a base plate for the faucet that covers the additional holes. Often these base plates even come with the faucet, so have your eye out for that.

If you have little to no experience with plumbing in general, I would recommend going with a licensed professional. These are the professionals and will deal with this kind of project on a routine basis. When dealing with water supplies and plumbing, leaks can happen which may lead to water damage if not addressed quickly.

Does Your Faucet Really Need To Be Replaced?

If the reason for your change is purely to upgrade the look of your kitchen or bathroom, then more power to you. There are many great looking faucets available that can make a room really POP.

If the reason for your replacement is to get one that doesn’t “leak” then you may even be able to fix the leak yourself.

Inside many faucets there are things known as cartridges. These cartridges are the internal mechanisms that allow water to pass or tell the water “YOU SHALL NOT PASS” on both hot and cold sides.

It is very possible for debris from organic minerals such as hard water to interfere with the closing process. This may allow the cartridge to stay ever so slightly open, which will allow water to pass through.

If this is the case, you may be able to remove the cartridge yourself (after you have shut your water shutoff valves) and clean it. You will need allen keys for this project.

Usually faucets will have a place you can insert an allen key into, and it’s usually located underneath the little blue and red tabs that indicate hot or cold. Sometimes it can also be at the back of the faucet, so some searching around will be necessary.

Make sure you cover your drain hole as these set screws are really tiny and could fall down your drain. Once you unscrew the set screw, you can remove the handle to access the cartridge.

Usually there’s a packing nut holding the cartridge in place, so you may need some pliers to loosen it off.

Other faucets utilize compression and a rubber washer to cut the supply of water off. In this case, it could be that the rubber washer has cracked and will need to be replaced. These washers are very cheap (in the cents) and you can usually call your faucet manufacturer for replacements.

The same process is involved in removing the handles of the faucet to access this washer, and you will need a screwdriver to remove the screw holding the washer in place.

Tyler Takacs

My name is Tyler, I live in Ontario Canada and enjoy learning about common plumbing issues in the household. I have spent just over three years in the trades as a plumbers apprentice, but am now onto a less physical job. I still enjoy studying and learning about my own house's plumbing as well as finding ways to help others with their issues.

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