Your aging kitchen faucet is dripping again and you can’t find parts any more to fix it. The finish on the faucet looks chipped and worn. So it’s time for a change. But before you dash to the store to look at new faucets, here are six insider’s tips you need to know.
We got some of our advice from Linda Stanfield of Benjamin Franklin Plumbing in Phoenix and Central Arizona Supply in Scottsdale. These suggestions are important whether you are replacing an existing faucet or if you’re remodeling and picking out new styles in fixtures for your kitchen.
1 | Top Brass
Make sure that sleek-looking faucet has a brass valve and mechanism inside, not plastic parts. Having metal parts generally means the faucet will last longer. But of course, it’s hard to tell what a faucet’s innards are just by looking at it. Generally, when you pick up an all-metal faucet, it will feel heavier than a faucet that’s partly plastic. It’s probably also going to cost more than a lookalike with plastic insides. Check out the faucet’s box or installation instructions to see if they talk about the inside parts. Ask lots of questions before you buy.
2 | Plastic Parts = Short Term Life
Bargain-priced, lookalike faucets may need costly repairs or replacement in the near future. Lower-cost faucets with plastic parts can still be a decent choice, according to Stanfield, “but they’re more of a short-term choice.” After a few years, it might be more difficult as well to find parts for repairs because manufacturers stop making them. Always read the warranty before buying to see whether the faucet maker will replace parts free of charge.
3 | Think Through Trends
Think carefully before buying the trendiest new thing, like a no-touch or light-touch faucet. With a no-touch, you simply wave your hand near the faucet and water comes out. Sometimes you simply touch a faucet with your arm. These choices are fast, convenient, and also more sanitary. One example: You don’t have to touch (and contaminate) the faucet when washing your hands after cutting up chicken for a stir-fry. It is hard, however, to adjust the water without touching the faucet handle. The temperature and flow must be set ahead of time. Think about buying a top brand-name if you want this type of faucet in the near future. Stanfield notes: “They’re like electronic roll-up windows in cars. When first introduced, they were more susceptible to breakdowns.” Popular pull-down sprayers on faucets are also more likely to need more repairs because they get such heavy use.
4 | Fill the Holes
You don’t always have to buy a faucet that will fill the same number of holes on your countertop as the old faucet does. If two or three holes were cut into your granite countertop for your old faucet, it will be easier to buy a new faucet that can fill all the holes. But if you have your heart set on a model that doesn’t, plumbers can provide attractive caps to put on the unused holes or can fill an extra space with an instant hot water faucet line or soap dispenser.
5 | Upgrade the Fixtures
If you’re buying a newly built house, find out what kind of faucet will be installed in your kitchen. Builders often install lower quality faucets in new houses, but you can ask for an upgrade and pay extra. But you might just want to upgrade the faucets after you buy the house instead. You can even do the job yourself for less money.
6 | Regular Maintenance = Long Term Life
Do regular maintenance on your faucet and it will last longer. Check under the sink for leaks. Periodically, the cartridge in the faucet should also be replaced. What’s the cartridge? It’s the device that turns your faucet off and on and mixes the hot and cold water. It’s usually located below the handle.
- Kohler: Apron front sink
- Grohe: Pull-down sprayer and light touch faucets
DIY Video: Faucet and Showerhead Quality
In this Rosie on the House Three-Minute Tip, Linda Stanfield from Benjamin Franklin Plumbing and Rosie chat about faucet and showerhead quality - and how that impacts maintenance and long-term performance.
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