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How to Choose the Right Faucet Without Getting All Wet
Courtesy of At Home, a free eMagazine from Moen
This article provides answers to the most commonly asked questions about faucet selection, installation and maintenance. Follow the advice given here and you will not only know how to select a quality faucet, but you will also know how to get the most out of it.
What are the key features I should look for in a faucet?
Today's faucets do more than just regulate the flow of cold and hot water into your sink. In the kitchen there are many available features, such as pull-out or pull-down sprays, water filtering systems and a variety of designer styles and finishes. Look for the latest modern conveniences that will make your life easier.
In the bath, style is usually the driver of choice (traditional, country, contemporary; single or two-handles), and many times the bath faucet is available with matching accessories (towel bars, paper holders, robe hooks), to create a suite look in the overall bath. Moens new M"PACT system even allows for frequent change of style and color with easy to install interchangeable handle bases. You can upgrade the style or finish of your faucet by simply unscrewing and replacing the handle and spout trim.
Yet, when evaluating different styles certain features such as high spouts allow for more room to fill cups and wash hands. Water filtration systems are also available for bathroom faucets and guarantee purified water for teeth brushing while leaving in fluoride for healthy teeth. Some faucets provide a source of cold drinking water that bypasses home water-softening systems allowing the water to retain natural minerals.
How to stop a leaky faucet before it starts leaking?
Usually, the cause of a leaky faucet is a faulty washer. Washers may be replaced time and time again and still not fit properly to stop the leak. That's why the best solution is a preventative one: buy and install a washerless or cartridge-based faucet in the first place. With these faucets, you don't need to worry about replacing worn-out or ill-fitting washers. Their advanced, one-piece construction means greater reliability and better performance.
A Cartridge Faucet Offers Other Advantages
The washerless cartridge faucet eliminates the leaks associated with washers. It also features a one-piece, self-contained assembly. Fewer parts mean that there are fewer things to go wrong. Replacement with the cartridge is easy - just take out the old and drop in the new without the hassles of many complicated components.
How to determine value in faucets?
Not all faucets are created equal - some are simply made better than others. Look for faucets constructed of copper, brass and other high quality materials. These faucets will usually give you superior looks as well as performance and durability. And while you may pay a bit more for a quality faucet, here's where that old adage comes true, because when it comes to plumbing products, you really get what you pay for.
Will any new faucet fit my existing sink?
Standard size sink and faucet dimensions are used throughout the plumbing industry, which should make your job of finding a new faucet easier. Most faucet manufacturers offer a wide selection of faucets for any kitchen or bath setting. To determine what type of faucet you need in the kitchen, you should count the number of mounting holes you have under your sink. Your sink can have up to four holes and may be difficult to see from the top of the sink if they are covered by an existing faucet and deck.
In the bath, the faucet is typically set in either 4" or 8" width configurations. In the 4" set you can have a centerset or mini widespread setup; if it's 8" or more, it is known as a widespread set. When you choose your new faucet, you can change styles, but will have to stay with the same size, or replace the sink if you want to switch.
Will my existing water supply lines fit a new faucet?
The first thing you need to determine is the size and type of water supply lines you currently have. Water supply lines can vary, but the most common sizes are 3/8" and 1/2". Supply hook-ups also vary but typically are made of flexible plastic, standard copper, flexible braided and corrugated copper. The best thing to do once you find out which size and type of line you have is to shut off the water and bring in the pieces to your local hardware or DIY store to find the faucet that will work best with your particular configuration.
What type of finish should I look for and how do I clean my faucet?
If you're choosing a faucet with a polished brass or specialty finish, look for one like Moen's LifeShine™ non-tarnish finish which won't pit, corrode or discolor.
With so many products on the market today claiming to offer superior cleaning power, it can get confusing to know which one is best. For cleaning faucets, avoid products that contain abrasives or harsh chemicals. They can scratch your faucet and take away some of its original beauty. In fact, the old-fashioned way may still be best - simply use warm water and a damp cloth.
Can I really replace a faucet myself?
Unless you have a difficult or unique installation, replacing a faucet can usually be done on a do-it-yourself basis. All you really need are the right tools, good judgment and a little time to devote to the project. To make your installation job easier, manufacturers usually provide easy step-by-step illustrated instructions with all faucets. If you need further assistance, check the faucet package to see if there is a toll-free helpline to assist in plumbing installations. Or, many manufacturers will have installation information posted on the company Web site. www.moen.com offers helpful assistance on both faucet selection and installation, see "Faucet Installation is Easy as 1,2,3".
Can I replace a two-handle model with a single-handle faucet?
In most cases, yes. In both the kitchen and bath, mounting hardware and other flexible hookups will let you replace two-handle models with a single-handle faucet. If you're concerned about existing holes in the sink, single handle faucets are available with deck plates (also know as escutcheons) to provide an attractive covering.
I'm concerned about the quality of my drinking water - should I choose one of these filtering faucets?
More than $7 billion was spent on bottled water last year, yet one of the most convenient ways to get great tasting water is available at the touch of a button. There are a number of filtering faucet systems now available, (several even install the same way as a regular kitchen faucet), or as separate water dispensers that affix to the sink. Either way, these will save you time running to the store as well as significant money over bottled water in the long run.
These tips should help you choose the right faucet for your next remodel or repair and provide you with years of attractive and convenient water delivery.