Can You Change A Faucet Without Turning Off the Water?

Kellan Jansen
by Kellan Jansen
Kitchen or bathroom faucets can be changed without turning off the water. But just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. Whether it be minimizing the risk of water damage or making the job easier, let’s take a look at why you should turn off the water when you change faucets.

Keeping your faucet working is an integral part of ensuring that your bathroom meets the needs of your household. Sometimes you can do this without replacing the faucet. However, other times there’s no other option but to swap out your old faucet with a new one.

When this happens, the general rule is that you need to turn off your home’s water supply before tackling the project. However, that’s not always possible. If you need to change a faucet without turning off the water, then continue reading to learn how.

Although it’s not advised, you technically can replace a faucet without turning off your water. To do so, you need to turn on faucets elsewhere in your house to reduce the amount of water pressure going to the faucet you want to replace. After that, the replacement process is very similar to what you would do if the water was shut off, you’ll just want to work at a faster pace than normal.

Do You Need to Hire a Plumber?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

When Do You Need to Change a Faucet?

You may need to swap out your faucet in a few different scenarios. For example, faucets have a lifespan of about 15-20 years. If you’ve had yours for longer than that, then it’s time to change it out for a new one instead of trying to repair it again.

Similarly, you may need to replace your faucet if yours constantly needs repairs. You don’t want to have to spend every weekend repairing a faulty faucet. In addition to wasting your time, this is a process that can also add up to cost you more than what you would pay to simply replace the faucet entirely.

You may also want to change out an old faucet to replace it with a more efficient model. Studies have found that old faucets can waste anywhere from 3-5 gallons of water per minute. That means you might be able to cut down on your utility costs significantly by installing a newer model that operates more efficiently.

Why Do You Need to Shut the Water Off Before Changing a Faucet?

The answer to this question is very simple, and likely one that you already understand if you’ve ever tried replacing a faucet previously. Essentially, if you don’t turn off the water, then you’re going to have water spraying out of the faucet area while you attempt to uninstall and change it. This means that you’re going to be left with a massive amount of water all over your bathroom.

Shutting your water off fixes this problem. It prevents water from flowing into your faucet from your home’s main supply lines during the installation process. That’s why every guide that you’ll encounter will recommend that you take this step.

How Do I Turn Off the Water?

If you are able to turn off your water, then it’s absolutely a step that’s worth taking before you begin swapping out your faucet. To do this, you need to locate your home’s main water line and turn it off.

The actual process of shutting off the water is very straightforward. Generally, all that you’ll have to do is twist a knob or pull a lever and the water will stop flowing into your home. For many homeowners, the most difficult part of this process is actually locating where their home’s main water valve is.

There are a few different locations that you can check. Generally, a home’s main water valve is located on the interior of the home. It’s also typically on the perimeter of the house near where it faces the street.

If you’ve looked around your home and still can’t find the water shut off valve, then take a look at your property inspection report. This will often tell you exactly where the valve is located and what you need to do to turn it off.

Finally, if none of these options work, then consider looking outdoors for the streetside shut off valve. This is usually found at the boundary line of a property and should be located under a utility box trap door that’s level with the ground.

How to Change a Faucet Without Turning Off the Water

If you absolutely must change a faucet without turning off the water, then you should prepare yourself as well as possible for the installation process. Doing so will significantly cut down on the amount of time that water is spraying uncontrollably into your bathroom. Here’s a step-by-step guide you can follow to get the job done.

Step 1: Locate the rings that secure the faucet to the countertop

When you find these, go ahead and pre-loosen them. When the actual installation process starts, you’re going to have to detach these rings from the countertop entirely. By loosening them up before you start, you make that process much easier and faster than it would be otherwise. Once again, this limits the amount of time that water is leaking uncontrollably into your bathroom.

Step 2: Unbox the new faucet

Spend a moment familiarizing yourself with its parts and the installation instructions that it comes with. If there’s any pre-assembly work required, now is the time to do it. Essentially, you want to do as much of the work as you can before the time comes to begin the actual installation.

Step 3: Apply the plumber’s tape to the stems on the new faucet

You typically need to do this on both the hot and cold sides of the faucet, but your individual needs may vary based on the type of faucet that you’ve purchased. Make sure that you apply the plumber’s tape in the same direction that you’re going to install the faucet supply line hose. This will ensure the watertight seal functions as optimally as possible.

Step 4: Get a shop vacuum in place to suck up flowing water

You should make sure that your vacuum has a water filter installed so that it performs as well as possible when the time to use it arrives. You may also want to test your shop vacuum at this point in the process to make sure that it’s going to work when you need it.

Step 5: Gather towels and buckets to soak up spilled water

Place these strategically around your bathroom in the areas where you think that most of the water spills will occur. If placed well, towels and buckets can catch much of the water that would have ended up soaking into your floor otherwise.

Step 6: Turn on faucets around your home

Doing this will limit the amount of water pressure that you encounter during the installation process. Generally speaking, the more faucets that you can turn on the better. You want to give yourself as little water to deal with as possible and taking this step will help you achieve that goal.

Step 7: Perform the installation process as quickly as possible

Follow the instructions that came with your faucet to complete the installation process as fast as you can. As you work, you may need to pause briefly to place buckets in better locations or operate your shop vac.

Step 8: Finish the process and clean up any remaining water

Should I Hire a Plumber?

Only you can decide whether hiring a plumber is the best way to fix your faucet issues. Usually, faucets are easy enough to replace without a professional’s help. However, that can change if you’re unable or unwilling to shut off the water supply to your home.

As described above, you can still complete this process on your own. However, it can be a tricky project and one that you may just not want to deal with. In that case, hiring a plumber to do the work for you could be a better option.

It’s also worth noting that a plumber may be able to figure out another way to shut off your home’s water supply. There might be a method or a valve that you’re not aware of. If a plumber is able to find this, then they could complete the process of replacing your old faucet in a much more efficient way than you would be able to do on your own.

Tips for Finding the Right Replacement Faucet

Maybe you know that you need to replace your old faucet but aren’t sure yet what you’d like to replace it with. Consumers today have many options to choose from, each of which can be a good fit for your needs. Consider these factors while you shop.

More isn’t always better. Spending extra on a faucet is a good idea if you want something that will last. However, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the more you spend the better your faucet will be. Instead, spending between $60 and $100 is generally enough to get everything you need.

Choose your finish wisely. Some types of finishes are stronger than others. For example, chrome is the most durable finish and the easiest to keep clean. Bronze is a bit more stylish but can be easily chipped or scratched.

Single handle faucets are more convenient. It’s much easier to adjust the water temperature with a single handle faucet. Additionally, they give you one less handle that you need to worry about cleaning.

Looks aren’t everything. Many homeowners choose their faucets primarily based on the way they look. However, this isn’t always the best idea. Instead, you should prioritize finding a faucet that fits your functional needs. After those needs are met, then you can begin differentiating faucets based on their appearances.

Do You Need to Hire a Plumber?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

Related Questions

How much do new faucets cost?

Faucets can range in price considerably. However, you should expect to spend about $65 for a bathroom faucet and $100 for a kitchen faucet. Anything more than that is unnecessary unless you want specific features.

What is a shutoff valve?

In this context, a shutoff valve is something that you can turn on or off as needed to regulate the flow of water into your home. Generally, you only need to turn a shutoff valve off if you’re performing plumbing repairs or you’ll be out of town for a while.

Related Guides

Kellan Jansen
Kellan Jansen

Kellan is a content writer who specializes in everything DIY. When he's not behind the keyboard, he enjoys spending time with his pets, playing music, and geeking out about basketball. He hopes to make your home improvement projects a little bit easier to accomplish.

More by Kellan Jansen