If you’re a homeowner it is inevitable that at some point during your life, you’ll require or want new taps. Whether your current taps have started to leak or are effected by corrosion, or you have decided to upgrade your current taps as a way to improve your bathroom or kitchen, new taps can make a huge difference to your general well-being around the home.
Whilst tap installations aren’t overly expensive to have fitted by a professional, it still costs money which you can save if you have the knowledge and skills to install taps yourself. Now, there are different types of tap such as mixer taps, but this installation guide will focus on the installation of pillar taps. These are very common within homes and offer the homeowner the ability to run two temperatures at once.
Whilst fitting pillar taps will technically require double the work, as there are two physical taps to install, they are somewhat easier than alternative taps that produce hot and cold water through one tap. This is because each pillar tap only requires one supply, meaning you only need to connect one tap to one supply pipe. This takes away confusion and means that you do not need to worry about where the water meets in the pipe network.
Before going ahead with any DIY installation, be sure that you have all the required tools and equipment needed from the offset. There is nothing more frustrating than starting a job, then realising you haven’t got an item that you require. And trust me, I know! I forgot to get PDFE tape before starting this task, which resulted in me having to dash to the local tool shop half way through my project. But never mind, experience teaches us these things!
Now, from my own pillar tap installation experience I highly recommend that you acquire the following tools and equipment before you start:
Your new taps
Now this might seem obvious, but it is best to have your new taps before you start your DIY project. It is best to have everything ready, rather than uninstalling your old taps on day one, then installing your new taps on day two. It is always best to get the job done in one sitting.
New Taps Instruction Manual
Before you start uninstalling your old taps, read the instructions for your new taps and ensure you have all the required parts needed in the package for you new taps.
An open-ended spanner will be required to remove your old taps and tighten your new taps to the pipes. Whilst you can buy adjustable spanners, I always found it was best to have a range of different sized spanners as they are more effective when tightening nuts.
A basin wrench allows you to loosen and tighten nuts that are located in hard to get to places. Also, a basin wrenches has a long shaft and provides leverage which makes it easy to loosen very tight nuts.
Back Nut Box Spanner
A back nut box spanner is a small pipe with a nut shaped hole in the top. This allows you to tighten or loosen nuts that are located in very tight spaces. This will mainly be used for losing and tightening bolts located behind the bath or sink unit.
Box spanner set
It is best to have a set of box spanners in case one does not fit. They are not overly expensive and are a great investment for future DIY projects.
Adjustable pliers help to tighten and loosen hard to grab nuts and objects. As they are adjustable, you can wrap them around large nuts. Plus, they have a large handle / shaft which gives leverage – very useful when dealing with very tight nuts.
Now, there is going to be gunk and mess when carrying out this project, so a cleaning cloth close to hand will benefit you massively. If you have old rags around the home, feel free to use them.
PTFE tape wraps around the taps threads and produces a watertight seal. This is essential, especially when it comes to avoiding leaks in the future.
Having a washing bowl to hand is essential. If there are any water leakages, you can place the bowl under the leak to catch the water. It’s also useful to have something like this to put any unneeded parts in, or to put the gunk from your old taps in.
Towels close to hand will be helpful if the area gets wet. Plus, you can dry your hands when they’re getting wet and slippery. It’s also an idea to put towels down if your bathroom or kitchen has carpet. This will stop any mess accidentally falling onto the carpet.
Now that we have our tools, we can start to think about the first stage of installing new pillar taps without a plumber. Step one is to remove your old taps.
Not all tools will be used. For example, I used a spanner rather than a basin wrench. But I was advised to buy a basin wrench if the back of the sink was hard to reach. Personally I found the spanner easier to use but with the right technique and the required knowledge of how to use a basin wrench, you should be fine.
Remove Your Old Taps
Now before you start, be sure to turn your water supply off. There is two ways you can do this:
Turning Off The Isolation Valves Behind The Sink
Behind the sink, there are two copper pipes that include a metal isolation valve. When the water supply is on, the isolation valve will be pointing up, perfectly inline with the pipes. To turn the water supply off, simply rotate the valve 90 degrees so that the valve is now positioned pointing to the left and right. Most isolation valves simply require a flat head screwdriver, but some are easy to rotate levers. Remember, there are two pillar taps so you will need to turn off both isolation valves.
Turn Off The Main Internal Water Supply
Turning off the main internal water supply guarantees that all the water supply in the house is stopped. This is the method I used for complete peace of mind, but there is no harm in using the isolation valves if you still require water in other rooms. To turn off the main water supply, you need to turn off the stop tap. The stop tap is usually located under the kitchen sink or in the downstairs toilet. If it is not in either of those locations, it is likely to be in your utility room or garage. To turn off the water supply, turn the tap right. To open the water supply turn the tap left.
Remove Feed from the Tap
The next task is to remove the feed from the tap. To do this you will require your basin wrench. The basin wrench will allow you to reach under the sink and will easily enable you to loosen the nut that holds the feed in place. You can use a spanner to do this but it is far, far easier to use a basin wrench.
Remove Plastic Nut from Tap Thread
Once the feed is unscrewed and the taps are completely independent from the system, you will need your back nut box spanner. Simply insert this into the taps bottom half (where the threads are) and unscrew the plastic or brass nut that is holding the tap in place. Once the plastic or brass nut is removed, you will be able to lift your old tap out from the top of the sink.
Clean Area Around Seating Hole
Now that your old tap is removed, it is worth giving the seating area a clean down using your clothes. This will remove all the gunk, meaning your new taps can go into the hole without collecting any dirt that was left there before.
Install New Taps
Now that your old taps are removed and the seating area on the basin is clean, it is time to install your new taps. Before starting, simply remove the plastic or brass nut from your new taps.
Insert New Tap into Seating Hole and Tighten to Sink
Now insert your new tap into the seating area hole simply put your hand around the back of the sink and tighten the plastic or brass nut to the tap. This can be tricky as you cannot see around the back of the sink easily, but with perseverance, you’ll get the nut securely fitted to the tap. Once your nut is all the way up the thread, you will want to reintroduce your back nut box spanner to finish tightening the nut.
Connect New Tap to Water Feed
Now that the tap is securely fitted, you need to connect the taps back to the feed. Before tightening the feed to the thread, it might be worth wrapping PTFE tape around the tread. This produces a nice tight fit and acts as a washer to stop leaks.
Turn Water Supply Back On
Once you have reconnected the taps to the feed, your taps are ready and installed. The next stage is to turn the water supply back on. If you used isolation valves, simply turn the valve back so that it is pointing up. This is a simple 90-degree turn. If you used the stop tap, simply rotate the tap to the left to reopen the main water supply.
Test Taps by Turning Them On
Then, turn your taps on. It is best to do them individually in case something is wrong. Before water comes out, there will be a release of air. Do not be alarmed by this. It will only last around 5 seconds maximum! Once the air is released water will come from the tap. Once you have confirmed one is working efficiently, test the other. I recommend testing the cold tap first, then testing the hot tap. Remember to wait for the hot tap to heat up so you can be 100% everything is working as expected.
If you follow all these steps, you should be able to easily fit your new taps. As said before, it is not overly expensive to get a plumber to fit your taps for you, but the satisfaction gained from installing the taps yourself with last a lifetime. Plus, you can spend the money on some pretty cool new tools which will look awesome in your toolbox. I partly regret not buying a basin wrench, just because I love the way it looks!
Author bio:Sam enjoys completing DIY home improvement projects. He is fortunate to have many friends in the trade and likes learning from them and then passing on his knowledge through blog writing.