When mineral deposits gradually accumulate on plumbing fixtures such as faucets, shower heads or aerators, they can become stuck. The problem gets even worse when a corroded plumbing nut that secures the fixture gets stuck. If the faucet or any other plumbing fixture stays in that state for long, the process of breaking it loose or removing the stuck faucet nut will be more difficult. In most cases, though, loosening the stuck plumbing fixture is not that complicated.
In This Guide
Why remove an old, stuck faucet?
The process of installing a new faucet is quite simple, except for the tedious task of removing an old faucet. If your faucet has been there for several years, there is a high chance that its mounting nuts are corroded. Furthermore, the faucet’s connections are tucked up high inside a base vanity cabinet, which is behind the sink basin. Due to the tight quarters and cramped space, the process of removing a stuck faucet or breaking loose a rusted plumbing nut can be a daunting task.
For most types of faucets, removing a stuck faucet involves unscrewing the mounting nuts and removing the flexible supply tubes. A faucet with nuts threaded onto its tailpieces up under the sink is called a top-mount faucet. This is one of the most popular styles of faucets you can find in most modern homes.
A faucet with a brass body beneath the sink and with spout tailpieces and valve that reach up through the holes in the sink and fastened with nuts threaded down from above is relatively unusual today. In fact, if your faucet is quite old, it is possible that it has this design and perhaps need to be changed. With the right plumbing repair tools, you can easily remove the stuck faucet and install a modern design for an improved interior décor and functionality.
Removing a stuck faucet nut requires a wrench or locking pliers to break the mineral deposits’ grip and then turn it in the opposite direction. You should tap the fixture sharply with a hard rubber mallet if it doesn’t turn. Place a center punch on your fixture and tap it with a hammer if you don’t have a hard rubber mallet.
To loosen your faucet, you should put a wrench on its nut and strike it with a hammer. Ensure that the surrounding area is free of any valuable items as the action requires a sharp striking motion against the plumbing nut. In some cases, this impact should be enough to loosen the frozen nut from the corroded threads.
Conversely, although your focus is to remove the stuck faucet or nut, tightening the nut slightly with a wrench may help loosen its grip. In other words, tightening will eventually allow you to remove the nut with ease. If it doesn’t break loose, move to step two.
At this stage, if the faucet nut hasn’t loosed, consider applying heat to the plumbing nut or faucet with a heat gun or hair dryer. You have to be able to locate the frozen or corroded nut visually before you start heating.
Remember that you have to drain all the water out of the faucet before you start heating. You can either turn off the two shutoff valves beneath the sink or shut off the main water supply valve to the house. You should actually make sure you shut off the main water supply valves if water continues dribbling even after closing the shutoff valves. Turn on the faucet valves to confirm whether the water is properly turned off. In fact, draining water from your faucet will help release any pressure built up in the line.
The heating will basically make the nut or faucet to expand and break loose. Use a propane torch to heat your metallic faucet and a heat-resistant fabric to shield anything flammable. Any flammable items such as hanging toilet paper should be removed from the immediate area.
It is also important to take precautions such as wearing heat-resistant gloves, protective eyewear, and keeping a fire extinguisher and bucket of water nearby. Keep your propane torch upright and avoid using large flames than necessary.
You should evenly heat the faucet by playing the flame across the plumbing fixture. The frozen fastener’s interior should also be evenly heated. Once properly heated, you should use a wrench set to release the nut from its threads. If it hasn’t broken loose, go to step three.
Warning: Don’t use a propane torch on plastic plumbing fixtures as they’ll melt away.
Apply calcium, lime, and rust remover on the mineral deposits on the surface of the faucet or plumbing nut and allow it to work. Use a wire brush to scrub off the mineral deposits from the fixture. Then, apply a penetrating lubricant such as WD-40 on the faucet or plumbing nut and allow it to saturate for up to 24 hours.
The penetrating oil can be allowed to remain on the plumbing nut for several hours. You can actually apply more penetrating lubricant to soak the frozen threads of the nut. Turn the faucet or nut slowly with a wrench after 24 hours to break it loose.
If your faucet or plumbing nut doesn’t break loose after the third step, try combining all the three steps. At this stage, if the faucet or nut doesn’t budge, you have to cut it with a hacksaw or reciprocating saw.
Tools and Materials You’ll Need
The tools and materials you need to remove a stuck faucet or plumbing nut are fairly simple. Moreover, using or proper handling of these tools and materials is not a complex or hazardous task. Every homeowner who expects to execute a DIY plumbing project can easily access the following tools and materials:
- Hard rubber mallet
- Protective eyewear
- Heat resistant gloves
- Locking pliers
- Calcium, lime and rust remover
- Utility knife
- Wire brush
- Heat resistant fabric
- Propane torch
- Penetrating oil/lubricant
- Center punch
Most plumbing fixtures have plumbing nuts that act as connection points for the water flowing inside the fixtures. The presence of high moisture content and high temperatures in places where most of these plumbing fixtures are installed may corrode them. At times, a homeowner may want to replace a rusted plumbing nut or fixture. By observing the recommended safety precautions and following the aforementioned steps, you can easily free the stuck plumbing nut without too much hassle.