An engineer I worked with once told me never do plumbing when the hardware store is closed. Wise words.
I replaced my kitchen sink faucet a while back. The house was maybe 20 years old so I was replacing stuff the builder put in.
I started by removing the old faucet. Easy, right? The back of my hand gently brushed the trap and it crumpled like wet cardboard. Check the internet- should have been PVC not metal. Got it. But I have to remove the garbage disposal first.
Instructions for removing the garbage disposal- turn the collar and lower it down. Turn the collar- turn the collar- fuckfuckfuckfuck. Go to youtube- get large screwdriver, place head of screwdriver here, pound screwdriver with hammer. Done. As a bonus I got to replace the piece of rubber that keeps shit from flying in your face when the disposal is running.
So just unscrew the trap from the wall. Hmmm, the pipe is inserted into the pipe in the wall. And secured with plumbers putty. Six fucking inches. Jiggle, pull, jiggle, pull, for an hour and a half. (No dirty jokes please.) Did this asshole have stock in the place that manufactures plumber’s putty? Replaced with PVC.
Now I’m ready to install the new faucet. The long hoses are way too long and the short hoses are about an inch short. I DON’T FUCKING CARE ANYMORE. I stretched the short hoses, screwed them on, and put a tub underneath. That was maybe 10 years ago and it’s still holding. The tub is still there too. And I have some new tools that I may never use again.
So, yeah, you can probably do it yourself. Just make sure the hardware store is open. And have Youtube handy.
@sammydog01 This is a very good post, particularly the last paragraph.
Also, make sure you don’t have pressing need to use the kitchen sink soon after you’re done fiddling with it. You don’t want to add time pressure to the inevitable stress.
@Limewater@sammydog01 Yup. Never mess with plumbing in the middle of the night. I was doing a simple toilet repair to replace the flapper/plunger because the toilet kept running. As I turn off the shutoff valve, the valve starts leaking. “Balls! You had one job, shutoff valve!” I had to shut of the main supply to the house and head to Lowes which was still open for another hour to get a new valve. Then I had to struggle with the copper pipe and compression ring. Internet said to use a puller or cut it off using a Dremel. I had a Harbor Freight dremel thing, but no special puller (I have one now, though), so I cut the compression ring off. The new valve came with a new one, so it was pretty straight forward after that.
Sure would have sucked to have to leave the water off all night and morning had I waited another hour before trying to fix the toilet.
I hate plumbing. I do all our own plumbing, but I hate it. Toilets, faucets, sinks, drains, I hate 'em all. Even replaced my own water heater, not once, but twice (because the first one had a factory defect). Hated that job.
But I do 'em myself because a) We live hella out in the sticks and most plumbers won’t come, and b) It’s an endorphin rush once the job is done. And doesn’t leak.
If I can do it, anyone can do it, but let me give you my two tips, learned after many many many years of minor leaks at the end of the job:
When you are done, spread a bunch of clean paper towels under whatever you did. These make it really easy to spot any drips or leaks that might linger. There may be a drip that’s only a drop every hour or two, and catching it on a clean paper towel is way more likely to catch your attention.
Check the towels frequently for a day or two and if no leaks, you’re done.
Tighten all fittings wayless than you think you should. It’s a real rookie error to crank down on the fittings to “make sure it doesn’t leak.” I can’t count how many times I’ve installed my own leaks by over-zealous tightening. So use a light touch when putting things together. And keep in mind that you can always cinch it down a little more if it leaks, but once you have tightened it to much, you’re done for.
Both of these tips I’ve learned after maybe 4 or 5 decades of hands-on plumbing projects around the house. Now that I practice both of them on every plumbing project I find my success rate is higher and my frustration with plumbing is lower.
The toughest part can be the physical aspect: can you even get your hands behind the sink to loosen the fittings and fasteners? Do the stop valves (the supply shutoff valves) actually close or not? And how adept are you in assembling furniture?
If the answer is yes to all, then by all means, DIY. Adjustable wrenches and a basin wrench are helpful.
Yes. Read manufacturers instructions. See what you have for riser pipes (pipe from shut off to faucet). You may need to run to the hardware store during the install. May need a “basin” wrench. Turn off hot and cold water valves. Pics of connection. Proper risers…Replace faucet…
Was reading through all the comments ready to post my own, (replacing a faucet is simple, it’s no more “plumbing” than replacing a light fixture is “electrician-ing”).
Then I saw your picture… Yeah, that’s going to be a “plumbing” job. lol
It is easy when everything is intact and in good condition and it’s a standard configuration…
What you have there is a mess.
Good for you for having the sense to hire a pro - I’d have still tried to tackle it myself, and it probably wouldn’t have gone well.
@Kidsandliz Well, yesterday - partly inspired by this thread - I did finally get around to rewiring and reinstalling a light fixture in a bathroom that I had renovated a few years ago.
For those few years, the 3 bulb vanity-bar fixture just rested on top of the medicine cabinet (wired and functional) while I procrastinated finishing this last piece of the job.
I had to re-jigger the wiring, enlarge the hole in the wall to fit a junction box, then mount the hardware and finally the light.
Fortunately, it went very smoothly, so no story to tell.
Yes! Wear safety glasses and gloves. Spray the heck out of anything that will unscrew with WD40 or something similar (but not the new parts - sprays can degrade the rubber gaskets) and let it soak for a while before spraying again. Try not to force anything apart. Keep some towels handy.
Also, turn off the water supply first
/giphy turn off the water broken pipe spray flood leak
Plan on replacing everything from the stop valves forward. Valves, supply lines, faucet assembly (my new kitchen faucet included pre-installed supply lines).
It’s a rare thing to work on old plumbing and not wind up having to replace the stop valves and supply lines. So just plan for it in advance. New stop valves (in my area) are around $6 each. Good quality braided stainless supply lines are $8 to $10 depending upon the length you need. Decent reinforced vinyl supply lines are about half the price, but I generally opt for stainless steel, particularly on sinks without a vanity, with exposed plumbing. The SS looks a bit less conspicuous to me.
A lot of super advice here, to which I would only add that you should know the location of the master water shut-off valve before you begin - something you should know anyway… Hope for the best but expect the worst, especially with an old house, so start on a Monday just in case, because if you DO get in trouble the plumber will charge you triple for weekends. Make sure to have the contact info for a reliable plumber on hand…
There ARE some things plumbers can do that you can’t, but in my experience you should know as much as possible about how your systems work ANYWAY, and it’s NEVER cost me more to have a qualified person clean up a mess I made - it just that sometimes turns out that there’s a bigger problem than the one I started to address!
So, um, I really enjoyed and felt empowered by everyone’s comments here, but in the end I was too cowardly for the attempt. The faucet was installed in '91 and has been broken and leaking for years. There is a crack over an inch wide in the back. This is what it looks like from underneath:
I’m sorry. I feel like I let everyone down, but I just didn’t want to mess anything up further. A plumber is coming.
@mossygreen Probably the best sense a DIYer can have is the sense to know when the job is beyond them and it’s time to call in the professionals. There’s no shame in that at all, and you worked up the courage to look at it and attempt it.
Next time you have a leaking toilet fill valve, you’ll totally have it covered on your own. Those are easy by comparison.
Yes you should be able to it if I can do it. I grew up in a family where my dad didn’t do tools - he was disabled - so I had to learn as an adult and it was mostly teach yourself. As others have said, youtube is your friend here along with knowing where the house water shut off valve is (which I didn’t have to use) and doing it while the stores are still open. I did mom’s kitchen sink faucet the day before thanksgiving as she couldn’t get a plumber to come out.
My biggest problem was stuff that hadn’t been turned in so long it was practically stuck. Also we didn’t have any specialized tools in the house and I would imagine it might be faster/easier with them, but not worth buying for a one time thing. Took me maybe an hour since I was double checking that I was doing it right. I’d guess someone who knows what they were doing, probably 20-30 min tops.
Oh yeah… worth clearing out from under the sink every single thing under there and have decent paper towels on hand for drips and crud. And maybe a brownie pan in case you need a container for drips. And locking up all cats, dogs and children who will poke their nose into what you are doing.