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Originally published Friday, January 28, 2011 at 7:01 PM

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Tips on installing a soap dispenser in a sink

Ed the Plumber: Three ways to add a soap dispenser to a sink.

Q: I'm tired of keeping bottles of liquid soap by my kitchen sink and knocking them over. I would like a soap-dispenser unit installed. Is this an easy project? We do have gentlemen friends who do home-improvement projects for us ladies all the time. Can they install a soap dispenser? One note: My sink has no open holes to install the unit.

— Helen in Florida

A: As far as installing a soap dispenser, the good news is that basically all you need is an open hole to mount the unit. If you don't have an open hole, you'll need to reconfigure the faucet and deck-mounted spray head.

Some people change the entire faucet to a pullout spray faucet. Since a pullout spray faucet is a combo unit, it will free up a sinkhole for the new soap dispenser. For less money, I've also seen plumbers remove and cap the remote spray hose and head, then install a "swivel spray head" at the end of the faucet spout. Or you can simply drill a new hole in the sink or countertop.

But that can be a little more complicated than it sounds. For instance, if you have a cast-iron kitchen sink on a stone countertop, drilling may not be an option. With special bits, stainless-steel sinks can be drilled out quite easily, as well as laminate countertops.

My three recommendations are simple:

• If you can drill a hole easily, make your own new hole for the job.

• If drilling will be a challenge, then spend the extra time and money to reconfigure the faucet and spray.

• (This is the easiest way.) Just call a licensed plumber if you're not sure of this job.

Either way, once you have an open hole to work with, follow the easy instructions that come with your unit. Average installation time is usually under an hour, with just a few tools. However, you probably will need to have a basin cock wrench on hand to complete this job. Once installed, maintenance is pretty simple. When you run out of soap, just fill it back up.

One final tip: I like to "cut" the liquid soap with water to make a 50/50 mix. I've found it to be easier for the hand-operated pump to pass a thinner soap. Plus, you'll save money on soap costs. Now, that's how you can really "clean up" on soap spending.

Master Contractor/Plumber Ed Del Grande is known as the author of the book "Ed Del Grande's House Call" and for hosting shows on For more information, visit eddelgrande.comor write Always consult local contractors and codes.

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