Fixing a leaky faucet is a popular DIY project for many a practiced homeowner, but if you’re dealing with older fixtures, even the most skilled handyman may find his patience tested. Considering the time dedicated to finding the right parts and wrestling with frozen or hard-to-loosen fixtures, the idea of replacing an old fixture with a new one starts to sound brilliant.
But how do you really know when it’s better to fix the faucet you have or shop for a new one?
You’ve Had It How Long?
Fixtures don’t live forever. In fact, the average lifespan for the typical kitchen faucet is about fifteen years. Bathroom faucets, because they’re used a little less frequently, can last for twenty.
Parts wear out. Mineral deposits build up. Corrosion occurs. Fittings loosen. Seals leak. Some of the most common leakage-prone parts of faucets are:
- Worn washers, seals, or valve seats which can cause leaks at the spout
- Loose or worn packing nuts or O-rings which can cause leaks around the handles
- Broken fittings or hairline pipe cracks are less common, but they can be the cause of leaks that haven’t been fixed by replacing the above parts
Many brands start to show signs of wear at about eight to ten years, depending on usage.
Estimate The True Cost
Replacing an old faucet with a newer model doesn’t have to break the bank, but it will incur some costs. A licensed plumber will charge you for his time and expertise. And though you can pick up an inexpensive working faucet at any home fixture store, opting for a name-brand faucet will save you money in the long run because of the higher quality as well as the ease of finding replacement parts later. If you decide you’d like a high-end designer faucet in an exotic finish, the cost of the replacement will rise even more.
Generally, if your leaky fixture is a lower-quality faucet that is fifteen years or older and replacement parts haven’t resolved the seepage problem, a new fixture would be a smart move.
But if your troublesome faucet is a high-quality brand, it might be worth the time, effort, and money to fix it. Manufacturers of high-end fixtures often guarantee those faucets for life, so check if they’ll ship you the appropriate replacement parts for free. Then all you’ll have to do is replace the parts yourself or call in a trusted plumber to do it for you.