I had a plumber last week install/replace an old bathroom faucet. He remarked that the faucet I had provided (a special order slant back unit from a plumbing supply house) "was backwards." Link to faucet sales site.

This guy is a top plumber, well known and respected, been working at this for probably 20 or more years and everyone swears by him, so I didn't question it.

Now, after he rebuilt it, what I have is a faucet where the knobs rotate clockwise for hot and counter clockwise for cold. I did not notice until I was shaving and it seems wrong and I compared to other bathroom faucet and it was the opposite.

Does it matter? Is it a simple matter of swapping the faucet cartridges back if it bothers me?

  • 2
    Did you change the type of faucet handle? If they're lever-style handles, there's only really one logical direction each could turn to open - in toward the user and the faucet (clockwise on the right, counterclockwise on the left). If they're knob-style, however, you may prefer both to turn in the same direction, like most right-hand screws (counterclockwise to open, clockwise to close). Commented Nov 2, 2020 at 18:00
  • 4
    If they were changed to be one way then they can be changed back to the other way. You are fee to have it set up any way you like, or how it feels best to you, regardless of what is normal or traditional. "Is it a simple matter of swapping the faucet cartridges back if it bothers me?" We do not have the info to answer that question. Faucet brand and model, a link to the manufacturers online installation instructions would help.
    – Alaska Man
    Commented Nov 2, 2020 at 18:55
  • Did he replace the faucet, or rebuild the faucet? Your question first says he replaced it but the next thing down says he rebuilt it. If he replaced it he simply got the lines crossed underneath oh, if he rebuilt it there may be a chance there's a way to put that cartridge in upside down. I don't think so but it is possible I guess. Either way if he is a reputable plumber he should have checked that and reversed the lines under the sink while he was doing the work.
    – Jack
    Commented Nov 2, 2020 at 21:47
  • the faucet is chicagofaucetshoppe.com/Union-Brass-174-172-Q-p/ub-172-q.htm - this was to replace a 50+-year old American Standard faucet. No issue with the "lines crossing" it's just that the hot turns clockwise on and the cold turns counter clockwise on. So off is both levers pointing out (hot at 9 oclock, cold at 3) and on is both levers pointing to 12. Commented Nov 3, 2020 at 4:04
  • 1
    I agree it's more natural and common for the "on" position to be at 6 o'clock for both levers. If a tap has long levers or is very close to the wall behind it, it's not even possible to rotate both levers to 12 o'clock, but you can always rotate to 6 o'clock. Commented Nov 3, 2020 at 14:02

5 Answers 5


I've typically seen faucet handles configured in one of two ways. For radially symmetric "knob" type handles, both may be set up so that the behave like common screws - righty tighty (off), lefty loosey (on). For "lever" type taps like the one linked in the OP's comments, it may be more common to have both handles rotate "in" toward the user to turn the tap on - the off position is at 9 and 3 o'clock for the left and right taps, while the on position is at 6 o'clock for both. If the faucet taps have long handles or are close to the wall, it's not even possible to have the levers rotate away from the user to 12 o'clock, but they can always rotate toward the user to 6 o'clock.

Which way you want the taps set up will be a matter of personal preference, handle type, as well as the physical realities of if it's even possible to turn the tap backwards toward the wall.


Seems old fashioned style faucets were designed to turn in different directions purposefully. My faucets in the kitchen and a bathroom both have hot water turning on counter-clockwise and cold water on clockwise.


The photo of the faucet in question shows the handles and spout mounted on a approx. 45 deg. tilted surface. In this case, turning the handles "up" to turn on seems more natural to me than the opposite, and evidently the mfgr. agrees, and ships it in that configuration.


Yes, these cartridges typically come in pairs, where one they rotate in opposite directions to each other.

Often they are colour-coded, too, I imagine your plumber simply fitted red in hot, blue in cold, which suggests your taps are fitted reversed to what is considered 'normal'.

There is no reason not to simply swap the cartridges over so that they rotate in the opposite directions. (I did exactly same in our kitchen, but have never got round to swapping them)


The standard obviously varies from country to country. In New Zealand, clockwise is supposed to be hot. Makes sense to me, you are turning it on by turning it clockwise. But it would be less accident prone for them all to behave the same way.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.