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Personal :: Adventures in Plumbing
  submitted on March 4, 2009, 3:15 PM

Back when we first bought our place last May, we were made aware of possible leakage issues with our kitchen faucet. The gist of it was that there was some dripping coming down from the faucet under the sink. However, we noticed that the leaking was fairly minimal if not non-existent, so the problem sort of faded away to the back of our minds.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. Melissa noticed that water had been collecting in the cabinets underneath our sink for an unknown period of time. Clearly whatever had been ailing the faucet had gotten worse. We stuck a vase under there to collect water while we decided what to do. Well, what started out as one vase became two along with a frying pan, due to the various drips we discovered.

Now obviously we could call a plumber and have them replace the faucet, but plumbers can get very expensive very quickly, so I wanted to see if there was any way for me to do it instead. I'll admit, plumbing is not really my strong suit. I feel pretty comfortable around electronics and carpentry, but things like plumbing and electrical stuff, I just don't know much about it. So the first thing I needed to do was firm up where exactly these leaks were coming from. As is the case with most sinks, there's not much room to maneuver, so it took a little while before I really got a good understanding of what the problem was. Basically, as I said, our faucet was leaking. It was leaking somewhere internally, and water was collecting in the base of the faucet, and dripping through the the three holes in the sink (Our sink has three holes, but our faucet is just the one hole kind). So since this wasn't a problem when any actual pipes, per say, and just a faucet needing replacement, I did some googling, and decided the process looked elementary enough that I should be able to handle it.

After a couple trips to Home Depot, we picked out a new faucet that we liked, and I begun the task of removing the old faucet, which turned out to be easier said than done.

Here's the thing: As I said, you don't have a lot of room to maneuver around underneath a kitchen sink. So in theory, the under side of a faucet should be designed with the expectation that it can be assembled and disassembled as easily as possible. Clearly, whoever designed our old faucet did not follow this same train of thought.

This is the underside of our sink. You can see on the right the three small pipes that lead up into the faucet. If you look closely you can see that the bottom part of the faucet is completely threaded, and a round metal fastener has been screwed onto the faucet to help keep it in place. Certainly a logical idea; the only problem is this metal fastener is two inches wide and COMPLETELY ROUND. What does this mean? Well, under normal circumstances it makes it incredibly difficult to grip at all, let alone get enough pressure to actually unscrew it. As my luck would have it, I wasn't dealing with normal circumstances.

Here's a side view. You see all that lovely orangish color above the metal fastener? That would be rust. As in the fastener is completely rusted to the faucet and is never coming off. As I said, the faucet was leaking internally, so when it was collecting water and dripping out to different places, that included rusting up the faucet itself. Joy.

I spent many hours trying to get this stupid faucet out of the sink, including trying to tear it apart from above, but I just couldn't get it to move. My uncle suggested I go get a vice grip and see if I can get a wide enough grip on the fastener below to unscrew it, or at the very least loosen it ever so slightly. No dice.

After a couple days of this frustration, I had to get it out somehow, because we had no kitchen sink to work with, which makes it fairly difficult to do dishes. So I decided to go with an off-the-wall idea I had; go rent a saw and cut the faucet in half. I figured, it's just a faucet, it can't be that hard to cut through. Plus, if you just run the saw along the top of the sink, and cut the faucet off, the bottom part won't have anything to hold onto and will just drop down. Problem solved. So I went back to Home Depot, rented a sawsall, and went to town on it. And sure enough, I was able to saw right through the faucet, and just like that, problem solved. (On a side note, sawing through metal rules, I encourage everyone to go try it immediately)

Well, now that the hard part was out of the way, actually getting the faucet installed was a relatively painless process.

Hey, look at that. All that faucet has is a nice little bracket, and a small threaded rod that I can attach a nut to. What a convenient little design for something that resides in such a tight and inaccessible area! [/sarcasm]

Here's the finished product. It obviously took longer than I had anticipated, but I guess I just didn't count on old faucet removal to be such a chore. It was actually a really effective project, because it's easy enough that you don't have to know jack about plumbing outside of knowing how to shut the water valves off, yet replacing a kitchen faucet is a good "man's job". Plus, did I mention that I got to saw a faucet in half? Okay then.

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