The Perils of Plastic Plumbing Fixtures

At Team Handyman, one of the things that we often see in the home repairs that we do is the use of inferior products or sub-standard techniques. Recently we went to a client’s home in Exeter to do a series of handyman projects. One of the tasks was to replace a bathroom faucet. The client had purchased a very inexpensive faucet that was almost all plastic!

When you replace a bathroom faucet, you replace the drain assembly as well. Typically the PVC pipe comes out of the wall and connects to the drain assembly. The new faucet comes with a “tail piece” that makes the connection between the new drain and the existing PVC. This piece is removable from the drain assembly. It’s designed to be long enough to fit multiple applications and generic enough to be used in most homes.

However on this inexpensive faucet, the drain assembly and tail piece were not separate pieces, they were not a proper size, and were not as universal as you would find on other, more expensive faucets. In fact, the assembly did not even reach to the PVC drain! This meant that the technician had to cut the PVC drain and reconfigure both the drain and the trap to reach the inexpensive drain assembly that came with the faucet.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, once the installation was complete and the water turned on, the hot water could not be completely shut off by using the faucet handle. Once we disassembled the handle for inspection the technician discovered that the interior components were all plastic as well. This means that there was nothing inside the handle that could be adjusted or replaced. Something in the handle wasn’t working but because the part is completely made of plastic there was no way to address the problem. The technician discussed the situation with the client, and since this was a rarely used bathroom, the decision was made to turn off the hot water pipe below the sink.

In these types of situations, the client thinks the cost savings is worth it, and that there is not enough difference between the inexpensive faucets and the higher priced faucets. There is, however a reason why they are the price they are. On most common plumbing or electrical fixtures, if you purchase products in the mid price range, you should be ok. With higher priced fixtures you are paying for brand name and/or extra features, while with the low priced products you will likely receiver an inferior product that can cost you time and money.

Best Practices Save Money

A different but also potentially costly practice is using sub-standard techniques. One of the most common ones we see is inadequate flashing. The scenario usually goes something like this: we get a call because there is staining on the ceiling where a one story low pitched roof meets the wall of a two story home. Upon inspection we find that the flashing on the one story roof only extends three or four inches above the roof, on the wall of the two story home. You can probably guess what happens when two feet of snow is sitting on that roof, right up against the wall with only a few inches of protective flashing. It would be less expensive to install the proper water barrier and flashing at the time of construction or when repairs or upgrades are made to the roofing or siding. It is usually not all that more expensive to do it properly.

When you receive all the information and have all your options explained to you, you can make an informed decision. At Team Handyman that’s what we do! Our number one product is service. Please call, and let us help you with your remodeling or repair needs.

— Team Handyman


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