HOW TO IDENTIFY FAUCETS AND FIND THE PARTS YOU NEED
DO THOSE FAUCETS HAVE PARTS AVAILABLE?
Imagine that you are about to buy a really nice car. Something like a new Porsche or Mercedes Benz. Then someone tells you “you know, you should really stick with a Ford or a Chevy ‘cause you can’t get parts for those fancy foreign cars”. Would you give up on the car you wanted? Of course not. And yet I often have customers tell me that they must buy Moen or Delta because their plumber told them “you can’t get parts for those other brands”.
It may require you to go to a plumbing store rather that the local hardware store or big box but parts for these “other” brands are indeed available. For example, General Plumbing Supply keeps a large inventory of parts for Grohe, Hansgrohe, American Standard, Phylrich, Santec , Newport and Sigma in addition to Moen, Delta and Price Pfister. Except in special cases we can typically get parts from other brands within a week.
I JUST WANT THE STANDARD PART
Something to be aware of is that plumbing parts are not inter-changeable. There is no such thing as “a standard one”. It is not uncommon for someone to come to us looking for a part and saying something like “I don’t care if it’s the same brand, just give me the standard replacement”. In the same way that a Prius door won’t fit on a Cadillac body, parts must be specific for the items needing repair. The problem is that unless you purchased the product and kept the receipt you may not know what brand you have.
BUT I DON’T KNOW WHAT BRAND FAUCET THIS IS!
If you need parts for a faucet but are not sure what brand you have there are a few things you can do. One is to take the part you need down to the local plumbing supply store to see if
they have a replacement. Depending on what it is there is a reasonable chance someone will recognize it and be able to help you (you may want to call ahead to see if they carry faucet parts). This approach does have a couple of limitations. One is that you may not find anyone who recognizes the part. Another is that taking the faucet apart to identify a part may not be a good option (perhaps you are not comfortable doing this or it is not possible to have the faucet out of commission indefinitely). So I recommend instead that you take pictures of the faucet in question and then get on the phone to your local supplier or showroom and get the name of someone to whom you can email the pictures in hopes of identifying the brand. I know I am much better able to identify a brand by looking at the finished product than I am from looking at a part.
Once you know what the brand is you should be able to identify what parts are needed. Then again it isn’t always that simple. If the product is an old model it is possible that the part you need is no longer being offered. This can be as true for Moen or Delta as it is for Grohe or Newport or several others. Manufacturers only stock parts for a few years and then, depending what the part is, eventually discontinue it. Operating parts (washers, valves) are likely to be available longer than finish parts (handles and such). In California we have an additional wrinkle in that we are no longer allowed to sell parts that do not comply to current lead laws.
IT’S DISCONTINUED BUT DON’T GIVE UP
If you need a cartridge that has been discontinued or is a brand you cannot identify there is one more thing you can try. Auburn Bath International is a California company that specializes in repair parts. Their website allows you to search their inventory of stems (and a few other parts)which includes many that you may not be able to find elsewhere.
The older a faucet is the less likely you are to find trim parts in finishes other than chrome. We often have people come in who are doing an upgrade to their bath and want to get new trim in brushed nickel or oil rubbed bronze to fit an old shower valve in the wall. Trim plates have to fit the screw pattern on the in-wall rough and the new plates rarely fit the old roughs. Same goes for handles. More than likely you will either have to use chrome or pay to have parts custom plated (which is not always possible). Occasionally you will find generic trim packs available in hardware stores but these usually do not fit well and may ruin the existing stem over time. In my opinion one should never replace a finished shower wall without also replacing the shower rough.
Sometimes manufacturers change internal parts without changing trim so it is important to know how old a faucet is. For example Phlyrich has been making the same designs for years but have used three different operating cartridges since the 1980’s and no longer offer parts for their older ceramic disc product. The good news is that one can apply old Phylrich trim to new Phylrich valve bodies so it is still possible to refurbish an old faucet.
THERE ARE NO PARTS FOR THIS?
Today of course, lots of product is purchased through non-traditional channels; think online
stores or Costco or big box house brands. These products can be a major challenge to find parts for (if parts exist). Often these products are designed to look good and be cheap and one way to keep cost down is to not offer parts. There are “no name” products which are manufactured in large lots with different parts being used between batches. Sometimes these are designed to look like better known product. Some house brands only distribute parts through websites or require you to snail mail your parts request. Before buying faucets through one of these sources it is a good idea to find out how to get parts should you need those.
Finally a quick word on warranties and warranty parts. Many, many brands today offer lifetime warranties but what does that really mean? Well first, warranties apply to defects, not to wear and tear. Things like improper cleaning, poor installation or site conditions (one example is use of a water softener) are not covered by most warranties. Second, it is very important to understand what is required to obtain replacement parts under warranty. For the most part all manufacturers require proof of purchase before they will ship parts under warranty (so keep those receipts!). Most showrooms will help their customers when warranty parts are needed but if you purchased products online you will probably have to go directly to the manufacturer for help. It is also true that increasingly there are manufacturers who will not service material that has not been purchased through approved vendors. Also, most big box stores do not stock much in the way of parts and in many cases other plumbing stores will not have access to those parts (for example we do not stock or order Pegasus parts).
FIND A PROFESSIONAL
No matter if you are looking for a new faucet or just the parts to repair an old one consulting a knowledgeable professional will make things much easier in the long run.