Identify Your Bath or Shower Faucet
How to Find the Brand of Your Faucet
The first step to fixing your faucet is identifying it!
As a "faucet doctor" for several years, I've found that I ask this question most frequently: What brand is your faucet? It's not something most people know.
IAt one time faucets were standard models, put together out of similar parts with a different look on the outside. It was easy to fix them with an assortment of standard size washers. Now, every brand has their own sizes and types of washers, seats, or seals. It is like looking into different types of cars: no two makes are alike when it comes to finding replacement parts. Some companies do not even make replacement parts after ten years.
Here are a few essential things to look for before launching into fixing your faucet.
The Major Faucet Brands
Looking for the Brand Name
If your faucet is a brand name, it may have a "mark" stamped on it somewhere. It may say Delt', Peerless, Moen, or Price Pfister right on the front of the faucet. Here are the most common locations for the brand "mark."
- Look at the bottom where the faucet spout or plate meets the sink.
- Look on the back of the spout instead of the front.
- If it is a shower head, it might be stamped on the round plate behind the handle, on the handle, or perhaps into the actual valve behind the wall.
- If your faucet has a clear brand mark, you can visit the manufacturer's website to find the right contact numbers for help. You may also be able to identify the model using their search tools and pictures.
- If your model has no markings of brand name, get your tools for the next step!
Get Out the Tools and Prepare to Get Dirty
- You will have to shut your water supply off. This may not be easy. If the item is a shower and there are no accessible shut off valves, you will need to shut the water off to the entire house, usually using a curb-key to turn the main water off at the street or a shut-off valve at your well.
- Let's pretend you DID get the water turned off to the faucet. You will need a screwdriver set and/or allen wrench set to get the handles off your faucet. If the faucet is a one-handle, there will be either a small set-screw in the handle that is accessible with an allen wrench or a pop-off top on a crystal handle that can be pried off with a flat-head screwdriver. Under the pop-off top will be a Phillips screw to remove the handle from the stem. More older faucets have this last method of accessing the inside of the faucet.
- You may need to bring the handle (especially if it is a crystal knob) to your local plumbing shop. If only your handle needs replacing, this is sufficient. If the faucet is leaking, you will need to dig down a little deeper. The stem is the item the handle is attached to. You may need to pull or twist the stem out. Some newer faucets have cartridges that come out all in one piece and older faucets have a brass or plastic stem. Some cartridges have O rings and/or rubber seats and springs that can be changed for very little cost. This O ring is often the cause of faucet leaks: the rubber ring or seats and springs are worn and need maintenance, just like the brake shoes and fluids on a car.
- The stem or cartridge is the main identifier your plumbing shop clerk will need to determine your faucet's brand. The rubber seals may also be useful as identifiers, but only with the stem or cartridge present. Plumbing shops and home improvement centers usually have books that can be used to identify faucets and/or a good working knowledge of local brands. There is a good chance, especially if the faucet is old, that the stem replacement could cost as much as a new one and/or will no longer be available. In that case you may need to put in a new faucet. This can be very difficult with some shower valves, requiring access to the back of the valve which may be sealed up in the wall. Remember to always plan good access, especially to shower valves, when remodeling or building a bathroom!
Tips on Seats and Springs
Some faucets have "seats and springs" underneath the main valve or stem. These look like little rubber cups with a hole in the middle of the cup and a small spring that goes inside the cap. One brand's seats and springs do not necessarily fit into one another. For example, the seats and springs in some Price Pfister kitchen faucets look almost exactly like Delta seats and springs, but Price Pfister rubber cups have a slightly smaller inner hole diameter. Thus, if you use a more commonly available Delta part in its place, the faucet will still leak with the new seat.
Warranties and Mail-Order Parts
If your faucet is under warranty and you know the model, you may get the repair parts for free by calling the manufacturer.
Another note: If your faucet was made by Pfister, your local hardware store will not carry the parts for this brand. Amazon does have them though and can usually deliver in one to three days.