I'm having a hard time finding an answer to this question. On a traditional single handle faucet, one with the handle on top (such as this Delta Foundations faucet) turning to the left is hot and turning to the right is cold.

I now have two single handle faucets where the handle is mounted vertically on the right side of the faucet. In other words the lever moves forward and back to change hot/cold. The question is which direction should be hot? In my kitchen I have a Kohler Artifacts which has back towards the wall as hot and forwards towards the sink as cold. In my bathroom I have a Delta Broadmoor faucet which is the opposite; down towards the sink is hot and up towards the wall is cold. Neither has any indicator which should be which.

Is there a standard for this? It seems like both should move in the same direction for hot, either back towards the wall or forwards towards the sink. The question is which is correct? Is one installed improperly or does it just vary by manufacturer?

  • Plumbing 101, hot is on the left cold on the right and s4!t flows down hill, lefty loose right tight. (Loose to open tight to close).
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Feb 17, 2020 at 1:39
  • 1
    @EdBeal, lefty loosey, righty tighty ... lol
    – jsotola
    Commented Feb 17, 2020 at 4:05
  • Yup last time I typed that someone did not understand but I agree.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Feb 17, 2020 at 4:08
  • Modern thermostatic valves have a feature to protect you from scalding. It is rather important that you make the hot and cold connections correctly, or this will work against you! Commented Feb 17, 2020 at 12:42

2 Answers 2


You've found one of the major conundrums of modern plumbing.
In the US it has always been hot on the left and cold on the right. Europe - I'm not sure about.
However, as faucet design has changed it's become complicated as you pointed out. This started with single lever faucets, which was okay, because left was still hot and right cold. But then they started putting them on the side. When they went to the side, and even before that, many manufacturers started marking them - hot & cold but some didn't.
Now to your dilemma. If the faucets are unmarked you can set them up however it suits you. I'm not aware of any codes dictating that. My preference when a single lever faucet moves either toward you or away is to have the cold toward and hot away. I think this works best with small children because they have a hard time reaching them and it's easier to pull than push away - thus cold forward.
The main thing is to get them the same throughout your house so there's no confusion. Since neither has an indicator I would change the Delta in the bathroom so that hot is back toward the wall. It's easy enough - just swap the supply lines under the sink. The good thing is whichever way you put them people will adjust quickly.
First Edit
What Ed Beal is saying in his comments is correct. If you think about rotating the handle left even if it's front to back, that left would be hot and right would be cold. I don't think code requires that on the type of setup you're asking about - but Ed Beal would know. In that case you would want to swap the supply lines under your kitchen sink instead of the bathroom.
Importantly, you want them the same.

  • A temp regulating faucet will always be hot on the left from the operations side.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Feb 17, 2020 at 1:41
  • Yes - when it's left-right hot is always left. OPs question was about when the handle goes forward and back.
    – HoneyDo
    Commented Feb 17, 2020 at 2:27
  • @Ed Beal Is that required by code for faucets that rotate toward and away from the person operating if the faucet isn't marked? Not debating - trying to learn something.
    – HoneyDo
    Commented Feb 17, 2020 at 3:22
  • Turning to the left would mean rotating clockwise. So if the handle is on the right side that would mean up towards the wall should be hot, unless I'm missing something Commented Feb 17, 2020 at 13:21
  • @nynexman4464 No - turning a knob to the left is counter-clockwise. so in the case of a right-side mounted handle turning toward the back of the sink would be cold - pulling it toward the operator would be hot.
    – HoneyDo
    Commented Feb 17, 2020 at 21:32

@nynexman4464 is correct. Valve on the right. Push handle away from you for hot. The valve is rotating clockwise as you look at the top of the valve.

  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Do you mean that the hot should be on the right? That isn't how most (all?) US faucets are set up. And, you should probably take our tour so you'll know how best to contribute here. Commented Oct 5, 2020 at 20:14
  • This is the most common way i have seen it done, but i have seen the opposite. I have mine mounted with the valve in the center, facing me, and set up normal, hot left, cold right. It really is matter of preference mostly for this type of faucet but in my opinion, whether the handle is on the right or the left hot should be at the back away from the user.
    – Alaska Man
    Commented Oct 5, 2020 at 20:16
  • @DanielGriscom There is one single handle, it can be placed on the right or the left side of the faucet by rotating the faucet during installation. . If on the right or left then pushing the handle to the back would be away from the user. This is accomplished by switching the supply lines under the sink. It is not a case of "normal" Hot left, cold right. With this type of faucet one has to?, or can, ignore the conventional Hot left, cold right set up.
    – Alaska Man
    Commented Oct 5, 2020 at 20:24

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