Removing a Faucet (Top-Mount or Bottom-Mount)

Replacing an old or faulty faucet can seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools and a bit of plumbing know-how, it’s an achievable DIY project. Faucets generally come in two main styles – top-mount, which install on the top of the sink or countertop, and bottom-mount, which mount up from beneath the sink. The process for removing each style is slightly different, but follows the same general steps. This guide will walk through everything you need to know to successfully remove a top-mount or bottom-mount faucet.

Gather the Necessary Tools and Materials

Before starting any plumbing project, it’s important to have the proper tools on hand. Here’s what you’ll need to remove most standard kitchen or bathroom faucets:

  • Basin wrench – This specialized plumbing tool is a must for removing nuts and fasteners in the cramped space under a sink.
  • Adjustable wrench – Useful for loosening nuts and connections. Avoid using pliers as these can damage fixtures.
  • Bucket – For catching water and debris.
  • Old rags or towels – To control drips and soak up any water.
  • Replacement faucet – Have your new faucet ready to install once the old one is removed.
  • Plumber’s putty or silicone sealant – To reseal the new faucet.
  • Flashlight – To see under the sink. Headlamp is ideal.
  • Goggles – For eye protection.

Shut Off the Water Supply Lines

Before dismantling a faucet, you must turn off the hot and cold water supply lines. This prevents water from gushing out when the connections are detached. Start by locating the shut-off valves underneath or behind the sink. They may be built into the piping or have handles that cut off flow when turned.

Shut both hot and cold valves and turn on the faucet briefly to release pressure. Check for leaks and tighten if needed. With the water off, you can now start disassembling the faucet.

Removing a Top-Mount Faucet

Top-mount faucets are installed on the sink or countertop surface. The removal process involves loosening the attachments from above before lifting the fixture clear. Follow these steps:

Disconnect and Detach Hoses and Lift Faucet

  • Spray off any dirt around the faucet to prevent debris falling into the sink.
  • Remove the flexible supply hoses connecting to the hot and cold stops under the sink. Use an adjustable wrench to unscrew the threaded nuts.
  • Unthread the sprayer hose from the faucet body if equipped.
  • Remove any clips, screws or nuts holding the faucet base to the sink. A basin wrench allows you to reach up underneath.
  • Rock the faucet gently from side to side while lifting up to break the seal. Lift the entire faucet assembly straight up and off.

Clean Away Old Putty or Caulk

  • Inspect the sink surface and use a putty knife to scrape away any remaining plumber’s putty or caulk residue. Clean thoroughly.
  • For hard water buildup around the faucet holes, use white vinegar or a limescale remover. This prepares the surface for new sealant.
  • Remove any additional debris or putty from the underside of the faucet. The base should be clean and ready for the new fixture.

With the top side cleared, you can now work on detaching supply connections from below the sink.

Disconnect Supply Connections and Remove Mounting Hardware

  • Working under the sink, use a basin wrench to loosen and disconnect the supply line nuts from the faucet inlets.
  • Unscrew the mounting nuts holding the faucet spout and valve bodies in place from below.
  • Remove washers, o-rings, or mounting hardware and set aside. Take note of the order and location of any removed components.
  • Clean mineral deposits or grime from the exposed water lines with white vinegar and rinse.

With all fasteners, hoses and supply connections detached, the old faucet is now completely removed and ready for a new one to be installed. Be sure to plug any open pipes to prevent debris falling in. Thoroughly clean the sink and prep the mounting holes for fresh plumber’s putty or silicone. Always follow the new faucet manufacturer’s specific installation instructions.

Removing a Bottom-Mount Faucet

Bottom-mount, or undermount faucets are designed to be installed up through the sink or countertop from below. The process for removal primarily involves working underneath to detach the supply lines and mounting hardware. Follow these tips:

Position Buckets and Towels to Catch Water

  • Plug the sink drain and position buckets, towels or rags around work area to catch any drips or splashes.
  • Turn off hot and cold fixture shut off valves and relieve pressure. Check for leaks.
  • If equipped, disconnect and remove the sprayer hose from the faucet body. Use an adjustable wrench as needed.

Disconnect Hot and Cold Supply Lines

  • Working under the sink, locate the hot and cold supply line connections leading into the faucet inlets.
  • Using a basin wrench, loosen the supply line nuts by turning counter-clockwise. Unthread completely to detach.
  • Allow water still in the lines to drain into a bucket. Soak up any spills with rags. Remove washers if present.

Loosen and Remove Mounting Nuts and Hardware

  • Find the mounting nuts and hardware holding the faucet body and spout to the underside of the counter.
  • Use a basin wrench and adjustable wrench to slowly unscrew the mounting nuts. Remove any washers or o-rings.
  • Carefully maneuver the faucet assembly down and out through the sink hole. Take note of the layout.
  • Clean away any old putty, silicone or grime from the sink surface in preparation for the new faucet.

And with that, the bottom-mount faucet should be fully detached. Be very careful not to drop any small parts down the drain when removing an undermount faucet. Review the manufacturer instructions before installing replacement fixture.

Helpful Removal Tips

Here are some additional pointers to keep in mind when tackling a faucet removal:

  • Work slowly and gently when loosening nuts and connections to avoid stripping threads or damaging components.
  • Take photos along the way to remember the layout for reassembly.
  • Place all parts removed in order and in a safe place. Small parts are easily lost.
  • Check for mineral deposit buildup and clean as needed to allow faucet to detach.
  • Be prepared for some water spillage and have plenty of rags on hand.
  • Use a non-scuffing or soft-jaw wrench when possible to prevent marring fixtures.
  • For stubborn scale deposits around the faucet, use vinegar or a limescale remover and let soak before attempting removal.
  • If needed, a little penetrating oil or WD-40 applied to threads can help loosen a stuck connection.

With the right tools, patience and proper technique, you can successfully remove most standard kitchen or bath faucets without issue. Just take your time and exercise caution when dismantling connections and removing supply lines. Follow all instructions for your new faucet and reassemble using fresh plumber’s putty or caulk for a leak-free installation.


How do I remove a stuck faucet handle?

If the handle is seized up and won’t budge, first try spraying some penetrating oil or WD-40 around the base and letting it soak in. Then try carefully prying up on the handle with a screwdriver, working it gently side to side to break the bond. Avoid excessive force. If still stuck, there may be an access cap you can pop off to remove the handle screw.

Should I replace supply lines when installing a new faucet?

It’s recommended to install new flexible supply lines when replacing a faucet. This ensures you have leak-free connections and the lines are compatible with the new fixture. Always check local codes, as some areas require new supply lines.

How do I get rid of limescale deposits around a faucet?

Spray white vinegar around the base of the faucet and any buildup and let soak for a few minutes. Scrub with an old toothbrush and then rinse clean with water. Vinegar’s acetic acid breaks down mineral deposits. For tougher scale, use a commercial limescale remover.

What tool do I need to remove faucet nuts?

A basin wrench is designed specifically for the awkward, confined spaces under sinks and is perfect for loosening faucet connections. The long handle and pivoting head let you easily reach up to detach retaining nuts. Always use the proper tool for the job.

Why does my wrench keep stripping faucet nuts?

To avoid stripping the nuts, always grip as tightly as possible with your wrench and turn slowly and smoothly. Don’t jerk the wrench handle. Applying penetrating lube can help, as can switching to a higher quality, non-marring wrench. Basin wrenches work best for faucet nuts.

Can I replace a faucet myself or should I hire a plumber?

With some DIY experience, basic tools, and by following the manufacturer’s instructions, you can typically replace a standard kitchen or bathroom faucet on your own. However, if you have an older, complicated or specialized faucet, or feel unsure about taking it on, then hiring a professional plumber is recommended.


While removing an old faucet takes a bit of work, the process for both top-mount and undermount styles follows similar steps. With the right preparation and plumbing tools on hand, you can tackle this DIY home improvement project and avoid paying for expensive plumbing service calls. Just remember to shut off the water supply, protect against drips and leaks, and take your time dismantling the existing hardware. Follow any included directions for your new replacement faucet and reseal properly for a functioning fixture. With a little patience and TLC, you’ll be upgrading your kitchen or bath with a fresh new faucet in no time.