Install new taps to refresh a kitchen sink
You may want to change your kitchen tap for a number of reasons. It may not be working efficiently or you might want to update and refresh your kitchen. Either way, replacing a kitchen tap is relatively straightforward with a little planning and the right tools for the job.
For this project, we are going to install a monobloc mixer tap in a sink with a single hole.
Tools & materials required
Before you begin
You'll need to select the right tap for your kitchen sink before you get started.
You might want to replace your existing taps with something similar, but you'll also find alternatives to choose from if you'd like to freshen up the look of your kitchen. With new finishes, colours and features available, there's plenty of options to suit every home.
Our Kitchen taps buying guide will talk you through the choices you'll need to make, and help you to understand which taps will suit your sink as well as the water pressure in your home.
You will need
- Sink taps
- Masking tape
- Flexible tap connectors, with isolating valves if required
- Tap brace, if fitting a heavy tap
- Compression fit check valves, if required
- Limescale remover
- Jointing compound
- Plumber's tape - also know as PTFE and thread seal tape
- Slotted screwdriver
- 2 x 250mm adjustable wrenches
- Water pump pliers
- Basin wrench
- Box spanner or ratchet with extension bar and deep socket
- 15mm pipe cutter
- Olive splitter or Junior hacksaw
How to remove an old tap
Before you disconnect the pipework, make a note of which supply pipe is hot and which side is cold. The easiest way to do this is by labelling a piece of masking tape and attaching to the pipe.
Before starting work, you'll need to turn off your water supply.
If the pipes supplying your existing taps have isolating valves
Turn the supply of the cold and hot water off by turning the screw heads with a slotted screwdriver (or handle on the valve) so they are at a right-angle to the flow of the pipe. Then run the kitchen tap to drain the water from the pipes.
If the pipes supplying your existing taps don't have isolating valves
You'll need to turn off your water supply at the mains, by closing the stopcock. Once this has been turned off, turn on the cold tap and allow the water to flow until the sold water storage tank and pipes are empty. This will drain the system. You can turn the tap off once this point has been reached.
Clear out everything you can from under the sink, including any shelves, but leave the pipework in place. This will give you more room to work and use your tools more easily.
It's a good idea to spread an old towel across the bottom of the sink cabinet to catch any spills and reduce clean-up time later. Once this is in place, add a bucket or tray below the tap to catch any drips.
With the water supply isolated, you can now disconnect the water pipes. In this installation, the existing tap has been fitted using compression fittings, so two adjustable wrenches are required to undo the nuts. Use one to hold and support the fitting and another wrench to loosen the nut on the tap side of the fitting (not the lower one).
Unscrew the loosened nut with your fingers. Underneath each nut will be a copper or brass olive. This is the part that makes the seal between the pipe and the fitting. When the nut is tightened, the olive is compressed onto the pipe, hence the name, a compression fitting.
You will need to remove the olive from each of the tap connection pipes to be able to remove the nuts. Ease the olive off using water pump pliers.
If the olive appears to be jammed in place, you may need to cut the olives off using a junior hacksaw or an olive splitter. We'd recommend an olive splitter as this reduces the risk of damage to the pipework, and is easier to work with in a tight space.
Once the pipes have been disconnected, you need to undo the brass nut that holds the tap in place. This is the nut that is screwed onto the threaded bar that is attached to the base of the tap. The easiest way of doing this it to use a purpose made box spanner or a deep pocket extension bar and ratchet.
Once the securing nut has been removed, the old tap can be pulled out. You may need to squeeze the connection pipes together as you remove the tap and lift the pipes through the hole in the sink.
Take care around the tap hole in stainless steels sinks, as this can be very sharp.
Now’s the time to really clean the surface where the old tap was, before you fit the new one. Wipe away dirt and grime using a damp cloth, and use a specialist cleaning product to remove any limescale - following the product instructions.
How to fit a new tap
You're now ready to assemble your new tap and fit this to the sink.
Top tip: Balancing water pressure
The water supply should have a reasonably balanced pressure from a common source (e.g. hot and cold supplies both from the same storage or both from a supply pipe). Where the fitting is supplied from unbalanced supplies (e.g. hot and cold supplies from separate sources) Water Regulations or Byelaws in your area may require an ‘approved’ non return valve or single check valve to be fitted to both the hot and the cold pipes that are connected to the mixer tap.
Where this is the case, simply fit the valves below the flexible tap connectors with the arrow on the valve pointing upwards. Once fitted, this will ensure that cold water is not pushed back through the hot water pipe when both taps are on, stopping the hot water temperature from cooling too quickly.
Most taps are supplied partially assembled, with some parts that will need to be fitted when you are ready to install it. Check the instructions in the box and assemble any parts needed.
This monobloc mixer tap requires the short thread bar to be screwed into the tap. This part will be used to secure the tap into place through the sink tap hole later.
If required, attach the flexible tap connectors by screwing these into the base of the tap.
Some taps may come fitted with lengths of copper tube with a brass thread fitting with an O ring instead. These pipes are fitted to the tap in the same way.
Place the new taps into the hole, making sure that you place the correct seal between the tap and the sink (the tap fitting instructions will indicate which one).
Make sure that when you install your taps with the hot tap on the left and cold tap on the right. This is the convention in the UK, and will help to save guests from unexpected surprises.
Also ensure that the hot and cold connectors are the right way round and not twisted when you drop them through the hole.
Secure the tap from underneath. Place the washer on first (under the sink), then the securing plate and finally tighten in place with the locking nut.
Top tip: Fitting an optional tap brace for heavy taps
A large or heavy tap fitted to a stainless steel inset sink may occasionally flex the sink. To counteract this, fit a tap brace that connects the tap to the worktop and not just to the sink, offering additional support to the tap and much more stability when fitted.
The tap brace has a variable collar to ensure it will fit most models of tap and can be used on any inset stainless steel sink. The brace is designed to fit taps with flexible tails, copper tails or a central threaded collar.
Tighten the locking nut with a box spanner or ratchet with extension bar and deep socket.
Then connect the hot and cold pipes using adjustable wrenches. Use one wrench to hold and support the valve fitting and another wrench to tighten the nut on the top side of the isolation valve.
If you are reusing the existing compression fittings, you can bend the copper pipes slightly that are attached to the tap to enable you to line them up with the existing pipework if necessary. If you do this, take care not to kink the pipes, and don’t over-tighten the compression joints as this can cause a leak.
When making a compression joint, apply a small amount of jointing compound over the surface of the olive before making the joint.
If the existing pipework doesn't line up exactly with your new tap, use flexible connectors to join your tap with the pipework. These are available in a wide range of lengths and with different fittings.
Once you have installed the tap, check that all the joints are tight and turn the water supplies back on. Start with the cold and only open the stop cock or isolation valve a little way to start with, and then check for leaks.
If all is ok, open the valves fully and check for a leak again. If there is a leak, check where it’s coming from and turn the water off. If there are no leaks, move on to Step 9.
If a compression joint is leaking, you might need to undo the joint and wrap some PTFE tape around the olive (the inner compression ring).
PTFE tape repels water and will help create a watertight seal. If you are putting PTFE on a thread, wrap the tape in the opposite direction to the thread on the pipe so it does not unravel when you tighten the nut.
Don’t be tempted to over-tighten the joint because this will compress the olive too much and the leak will get worse.
If the pipework is leaking, then you may need to replace it and it might be time to call in a plumber. However, the likelihood is, you won't have any leaks that you can’t fix yourself.
With no leaks, it’s time to test your new tap. It will probably gurgle a bit when you turn it on for the first time as you release the air bubbles. Turn each side of the tap on slowly to avoid an initial rush of water and avoid getting splashed.
Once you have run the tap, make a final check under the sink and check for any leaks.