Bath Faucets: What You Need to Know
Changing bath faucets is a simple repair that can make a big impact. In most cases, you can make the update yourself without a plumber or handyman. However, you should understand the basics of bath faucets beforehand so that you know what you are getting into when you decide to make a replacement. The good news is there is not much to know. A basic introduction to the types of faucets, parts of a faucet and common problems will prepare you for the task.
Types of Bath Faucets
There are two primary types of bath faucets: single handle and double handle. Single handle faucets are part of a modern trend. These are the faucets where the hot and cold water is controlled by one handle. Double handle faucets have a separate hot and cold handle. Often, there is a third handle in the middle that switches the water from the tub to the shower.
You will likely want to replace your faucet with the same type. Take your fixture to your local hardware store to ensure that you are purchasing a faucet that works in place of your existing fixture. If you are changing from single to double or double to single, hiring a plumber will probably be necessary.
Parts of Bath Faucets
The names of bath faucets parts can be confusing. However, in order to replace these parts, you need to have some basic knowledge about them.
The faucet handles are the parts you hold to turn on the hot water, cold water and switch from tub to shower. If you have a single-handle bath faucet, you only have one of these.
Faucet handles can be removed by popping off the face plate of each and unscrewing the screw below. If you do this, you will see a few other parts.
Behind the hot and cold water, you should see a screw in the pipe which controls the shut off. Behind the shower faucet valve, you will see what is called the cartridge. The cartridge connects the faucet to the plumbing behind. The cartridge is usually attached to the plumbing by a nut or a clip.
On the cartridge there is also an O-ring, which seals the connection to the plumbing. It is also possible that your faucet has an escutcheon, which is a fancy word for a face plate. This can be removed simply by pulling it off once the handle in front of it has been removed.
Common Problems with Bath Faucets
The most common problem with a bath faucet is a leak. A likely cause of any leak is a worn down O-ring. You can find O-ring replacements at your local hardware store. You may, in some cases, have to replace the entire cartridge.
If your water does not turn off all the way, a replacement cartridge may also do the trick. Cartridges are available at a hardware store as well. Certain bath faucet finishes have a tendency to attract more dirt and mildew than others. Proper cleaning methods for your bath faucet should be used at all times.
Coatings on bath faucets may make the necessary process unique. For example, a bronze faucet will require different cleaning techniques than a bronze faucet with a coating. It is a good idea to keep the papers and manuals that come with your new faucet. They will guide you in both cleaning and replacement of parts in the future.