Faucet parts come in so many categories, styles, colors, materials, and mounting characteristics that I as a home inspector get lost in the maze. What the many faucet parts mean to the average homeowner I can only imagine. Fortunately, on my inspections, I only have to concern myself with operating faucets. This is usually easy, although in some cases it is not immediately intuitive.
Replacing faucet parts is another story. It isn't that often that a homeowner has to do this, but when it becomes necessary it pays to know what one is up against. I half believe that there is a conspiracy between plumbers and manufacturers of faucet parts to make it as difficult as possible for the do-it-yourself owner. I'm not talking about replacing worn out washers but about replacing the faucets themselves.
What are some of the reasons for replacement? A damaged or malfunctioning part is an obvious reason, but there are others. The owner may desire a change in style, color, material, or manufacturer. An important reason is if a change is needed to eliminate cross connections, which occurs if the faucet tip is below the high-water line of the basin. Whatever the reason, let's take a look at what you need to know to fix leaks and other problems with your faucets.
Faucet Part Terminology
There is truly a plethora of functions and mounting characteristics for faucets, not to mention style and color options. In the bathroom, the different functions are sinks, tubs, bidets, showers, and tub-shower combination. In the kitchen, there are main sinks and bar sinks, with enough difference in characteristics and accessories to distinguish them from bathroom plumbing faucets. Then there are special functions such as pot fillers (having high-arc spouts) and deck-mounted tub/spa fillers.
Make sure the mounting characteristics of the new faucets match the old (or the pattern of countertop holes). A "centerset" faucet funnels everything through one hole, while "widespread" uses three separate holes. Less crucial, though still something to pay attention to, are the number of handles and the nature of accessories. Faucet parts for the bathroom might need pop-up drain mechanisms; for the kitchen, there are sprayers and soap dispensers to consider.
Home Maintenance Tips Regarding Faucets
To help you keep on top of your plumbing parts, here are some tips to follow periodically. At least annually, and more often if you suspect there is a problem, test all your fixtures for leaks. Some aspects of leak detection are difficult, but a straightforward task is looking for water stains beneath fixtures and feeling pipes for wetness while running water through them. While you're at it, inspect the condition of drainpipes and traps. Make sure your individual shutoff valves (hot and cold intake for the fixture) are operable to be prepared for emergencies.
As mentioned above, you should replace faucet parts if you determine that they pose a cross connection, which is any configuration that could permit gray water to enter the water supply under reverse pressure. What prevents cross connections are air gaps between faucet mouth and basin overflow level, special backflow prevention devices, and not having threaded faucet spouts for laundry tubs.
Replacing Faucet Parts
If you consider yourself handy and want to avoid calling the plumber, here are some guidelines for replacing faucets. Shut off the fixture supply lines. Remove the old parts and clean the area. Apply gaskets or putty and the new parts, taking care to keep hoses connected to the correct valves. Check seating and alignment, and tighten nuts. Open intake lines and check for leaks. You might need to bleed the lines. For more detail, see HomeInspectionWA.
Tags: ASHI, Bathroom Plumbing, Faucet Parts, Home Inspection, Home Inspector, Leak Detection, Plumber, Washington State
Published on February 29, 2012 | Comments: 0