A Quick Rundown on Faucet Repair

Faucet Repair in Bryan and College Station

Nothing man-made lasts forever, and bathroom and kitchen faucets are no exception. That is why if you’re replacing a faucet, it is best to choose one of good quality and one that has repair parts that are readily available. For residential, we only carry and offer repair parts on name-brand faucets like Delta, Moen, Price Pfister, and some Kohler faucets. Why is that? The simple answer is that it is not worth the customer’s time or money to repair some off-brand or foreign faucets. It can take many hours on the phone or computer to even locate certain parts for some faucets and it would cost too much for the customer to charge for this.

Oftentimes, the best solution to a leaky or old faucet is to replace it, especially if it is ten or more years old. A new faucet, if it is one of the brands listed above, comes with a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer for any and all parts. If a customer has their own OEM (original equipment from the manufacturer) repair parts, we will gladly install them with a workmanship warranty.

Gone are the days of 3-4 brands of faucets with a few variations to choose from. Today, there are hundreds of different brands and models of faucets out on the open market to choose from, and getting repair parts can be a very big hassle, depending on the brand. Some brands do not indicate the brand name on the fixture, and that makes it even more difficult to try and track down the needed parts. There are plenty of resources these days to determine the right part but if you don’t know the brand, it is a needle in a haystack. A common misconception when it comes to faucets is that there are interchangeable parts for various brands like with many toilets. That is simply not the case. All brands have specific replacement parts for their model and only brand-specific parts can be used when replacing parts designed to wear out, except for older styles when only replacing rubber washers and brass bib seats.

There are some manufacturers that make aftermarket parts for old discontinued brands and models. This can present some issues because they do not always fit as they should, which is why we recommend replacement only for faucets with discontinued parts from the original manufacturer. Another factor for us limiting faucet repairs to name-brand faucets is faucets today rarely use rubber washers like faucets of yesteryear. This makes it a bit more complicated of a task to repair a leaky faucet. Today, most manufacturers use cartridges for controlling hot and cold flow with ceramic discs instead of rubber washers, thermostatically controlled cartridges, volume/temperature controlled stems, pressure balancing cartridges, etc. The advancement in technology has been amazing with faucets for doing nothing more than controlling the flow of hot or cold water from a fixture. These days, almost all new faucets for tubs and showers are single-handle types. This is because the design can allow for what is called a pressure-balancing spool within the cartridge that the hot and cold water flows through before coming out.

What does a pressure balancing spool do? 

Pressure balancing faucets balance the hot and cold water pressure equally so that in the event of a minor pressure drop while using the faucet, like when a toilet is flushed or another fixture is used, the person using the shower won’t get a momentary and unpleasant hot or cold water blast. The pressure balancing spool is a safety feature that balances the water pressure to the lowest pressure side. For example, if the hot water has the lowest pressure, then the water coming out from the showerhead or spout will be equal to that on the hot side. How do you choose what brand is best and where should you buy it? First, let’s look at residential brands: Delta, Moen, Price Pfister, and Kohler all have solid reputations and a wide variety of quality and price points. Each of these brands has low-range, mid-range, and high-end versions with a wide assortment of finishes and styles to suit the most discriminating taste. And most manufacturers offer accessories, like towel racks, cabinet knobs, and toilet paper roll holders to match the same style of the chosen fixture and finish. If you are looking for a very high-end and good-quality faucet with a more eclectic style, then brands like Grohe, Newport Brass, or Waterworks are very nice and have a great reputation. In the end, they will all eventually need repairs, and having a known brand that has parts available is important. Online purchasing from third-party vendors has become a huge part of how we make our purchases these days and it seems logical to also buy faucets online for some potential savings.

That logic is not necessarily true. We have found that there are issues with this method of purchasing faucets, even if you use a known third-party online retailer. The issues that can come from this are missing parts, damaged components, missing paperwork and warranty card, European dimensions for the water connections, or knock-offs that look close to the real brand name but do not have the same quality. If there is an issue, most manufacturers will not honor their warranty on fixtures purchased from unauthorized third-party dealers. All name brand faucet manufacturers only sell through authorized dealers. A website that sells overstock items can also be a very bad choice for plumbing fixtures for the reasons already mentioned, as we have seen many issues with fixtures purchased this way. The best place to purchase new fixtures is from your plumber, a local plumbing supply house, or a big box store. We only purchase new fixtures from a known and reputable plumbing supplier and we offer a 5-year warranty on parts and workmanship on our supplied fixtures that we install.

So what is the difference between a big box store version and the supply house version of a specific model and brand that is made by the same manufacturer? The main difference is the parts used to make the faucet. Big box retailers buy in large quantities and demand a certain price from the manufacturer in order to sell the item at a specific price to their customers. The manufacturer has their margins set for a specific product so they can not sell the same product for a lower price at a big box store than they would at a plumbing supplier. Instead, in order to meet the lower price requirement of a big box retailer, they change some of the more expensive parts for cheaper parts within the faucet. This translates into lower quality components like plastic pop-up assemblies for sink faucets, plastic components instead of brass within the faucet, cheaper handles, or cheaper quality cartridges. The faucet appears to be the same version that you would see at a plumbing supplier but it is the insides that are different. Manufacturers even have different model numbers for the same fixtures sold at the big box store vs a plumbing supply. The warranties are usually the same but not the components used to make it. When using a plumbing supplier or our company to buy fixtures, you get more peace of mind.

We and the supplier will know more than a big box store employee about the different versions and brands and can help in deciding what will work best for the application. A reputable plumbing company or a supplier can help easily in the future when it comes to repairing the faucet even if the paperwork was lost because both specialize in plumbing and will have a record of the model and style of the faucet you chose.

Converting old to new: If you have a home that was built before the 2000s, and very little updating has been done to the fixtures, it can be more than a simple swap out that is needed when replacing a fixture. Older homes mean older fixtures with different styles or piping requirements. Usually, changing out a bathtub or shower faucet requires some adjustments to be made to the piping where the faucet is being installed. In order to replace a tub or shower faucet, access behind the faucet is often needed. This can mean cutting sheetrock or removing tile. When we come out for a consultation, this will be discussed with the customer so that they are fully aware of what it will take to install the new fixture. Older homes, like ones built before 1980, typically have two or three handle faucets for their tubs and showers. There are still some of these styles available but the choice is very limited in brands, finishes, and styles. As previously stated, most new fixtures for showers and tubs are single handle types. Before choosing a new tub or shower fixture, we highly recommend talking to one of our plumbing experts to help decide what it will take and work best.

Commercial Faucets

For commercial faucets that are used in restaurant kitchens or public restrooms, the choice of brand and style requires some forethought. ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) has very specific requirements for faucet style and temperature control for public use faucets. There are brands that meet these requirements and have good quality components. Chicago and T&S are two brands that have a good reputation and are solid faucets. Repair parts for them are usually readily available, too. The difference between commercial brands and residential faucet brands is that commercial brands do not have much of a variety of decorative style choices since they are designed for heavy use more than aesthetic appeal.

The main requirement for any public restroom sink faucet or commercial kitchens and handwashing stations is to have a handle easily used by a person with limited use of their hands for controlling flow. Temperature limiting is controlled by a separate component from the faucet but is required for commercial applications. The temperature limit for public use bathroom sinks is 105°. Many newer brands now use motion sensors for controlling flow in order to meet the ADA requirements. This feature
does present some maintenance that is different from older style fixtures. The batteries that control them will need replacement once in a while and the sensor can get damaged or smudged by people touching it too much which can cause malfunctions.

Of course, price does play a part when deciding which one to install so it is best to look at different brands and choose one that has a better track record and fits the need best for whatever the application. The benefit of choosing a good quality commercial faucet brand is they will hold up much longer than off-brands or more residential styles to the typical abuse that public use puts on fixtures. A thought to keep in mind when replacing or installing new commercial fixtures, or any faucet for that matter: the cheaper ones always cost more money in the long run with premature failures and constant repairs.

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