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Tub Fillers – Getting Yourself In Hot Water! September 12, 2007

Posted by FaucetMaster in Buying Tips, Roman Tub Faucets, Tub & Showers.
11 comments

The problem is you AREN’T in hot water – yet.  Here are some tips to look for when considering when looking for the facuet that gets you that relaxing bath: for keeping your water hot.  Also some goodies that can help!

How fast does it fill?
Flow rates – what is the faucet rated for GPM (gallons per minute)?  Tub faucet’s don’t have/don’t need aerators, so they are USUALLY limited by:

  • The valve that’s in the wall or under the deck (of the tub) for flow rate.  When buying, check how many gallons your tub can hold to give you an idea of what flow-rate you want.  Example: Have a 32 gallon tub?  A 4 GPM tub filler will fill it in 8 minutes.

Kohler high-flow valve

  • Pipe size: When purchasing your faucet – if the trim (the shiney, finished part) may be sold seperately from the valve.  Online stores often do this.  Check to see if there is a “high-flow” or 3/4″ pipe model.  You may have to check your inlet pipes (hot/cold) if they 1/2″ or are 3/4″, but if they ARE, I definitely recommend getting the 3/4″, which will give you the higher flow rate.  **Also, if you are having trouble finding the flow-rate on websites, check the manufacturer’s.
  • PSI (pounds per square inch) or your water pressure.  Usually spec-sheets on valves or faucets give an approximate estimate of what the flow-rate is based on what your water pressure is.  Here is an example (see the chart on pg 2 of the PDF).

Will you have enough hot water?
Ah ha!  Yes, you have the great 3/4″ high-flow valve and you’ve got good water pressure in your house already.  BUT, can your water heater compensate?  Gah – I know…  You’re probably headed out to the garage with a flashlight to check.  It’s ok, I’ll wait.

Ok, you’re back!  Well, if your heater does have the capacity to fill you’re tub in one go, then you should be good.  If you have a reeaaaally large tub though that even your pool-heater shudders to think about, there is another solution: tankless water heaters.  Not only are you not constantly heating a tank of water (keeping it hot), the larger units can easily keep up with your tub’s demands AS you demand the water.  I recommend the “whole-house” heaters, as “point-of-use” are usually for a smaller application, like a sink or small tub.  Most online stores are nice and give you a GPM flow rate right up front – yay!

Will it STAY hot?
In-line heaterThe heat fades and you’re left sitting in a tub of luke-warm water – bleh.  Some manufacturer’s, like Jacuzzi, make in-line heaters that keep the tub water hot as it’s jetted.  It’s actually fitted on the pump-piping and is NOT really made to heat the water, just keep it hot.  Not for the faint-of-heart :).

Also – material of the tub can effect how the tub water stays hot.  Cast iron can cause the poured water to start off a little more tepid because the metal might be cooler to start with.  Acrylic or fiberglass tubs might not have that effect, but depending on how well they are insulated (the underside), they might bleed heat after being filled.  For material I’d recommend sticking for appearance or your durability in mind – those are usually a bit more important.  Also, the point might be moot as I have yet to see a cast-iron jetted tub :).

Well, thats about all I have for how to keep your bath water hot.  More to come about other fun topics like replacing a bathtub drain, different types of bathtub faucets, etc.

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Let’s Talk Bronze Faucets! July 17, 2007

Posted by FaucetMaster in Lavatory Faucets, Roman Tub Faucets, Shower Systems, Style, Tub & Showers.
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I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing I like better than shopping for faucets!  Ok, I’m not THAT crazy (yet).  But, one of the most popular things people do shop for when looking to upgrade their faucet is a “bronze faucet”.  This can include “venetian bronze” (Delta Faucet), “Brazen Bronze” (Kohler), Brushed Bronze (everyone), and all the others that people can think up adjectives for: hammered, distressed, antiqued, chocolate-covered…  (I swear that last would be a hit).

 Kohler K-12182, Brushed Bronze  Delta Faucet, 3555RBLHP  Moen T6125 ORB Finish

Seriously though, bronze faucets are a hot item.  Rustihttp://www.faucetdirect.com/index.cfm/page/product:display/productId/TS511ORB/manufacturer/ShowHouse%20by%20Moen/categoryId/86c, “olde-worlde” style, not to mention they can go great if you are doing more darker tones in a room.  Also, these faucets often have a design that may add to their antique look – more stylized spouts, lots of metal texture on the handles, etc.

Frozen in time or Living Finish?
Beware – some of the faucets, especially those that aren’t of the bigger manufacturers tout “living finish” faucets, or “genuine” bronze.  These will continue to change over time from air moisture, oils, dust, etc.  Most manufacturers are pretty honest about it, as some people DO look for these.  It’s often hard to get a genuine looking “weathered” faucet.  These are usually a base-bronze or similar metal that just doesn’t have a sealant, so they will fade from bright, splotch or patina.  If you’re not looking for this effect, check the product details to make sure they say the finish is sealed.  Even then, be careful about cleaning the faucet and taking off the sealant.

Finishing Touches
Every brand does their bronze differently – everyone thinks that their’s is better (of course!).  Do you like it darker?  Lighter?  A bit of antique added so there is some dark on the textured areas?  A lot of antique so only a little of the bronze shows through (a dark faucet with lighter metal accents)?  So much to choose from…. Let’s take a close look at the most popular out there:

  Thousands of variations, limited blog space…  Hopefully, this gives you a good sampling of what is out there in the land of Bronze Faucets!

How To Clean A Brushed Nickel Faucet July 13, 2007

Posted by FaucetMaster in Lavatory Faucets, Repair, Roman Tub Faucets, Shower Systems, Tub & Showers.
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227 comments

Kohler Devonshire Brushed Nickel Faucet 

With EasyOff and Sandpaper!  Err.. No.  I know it’s tempting, especially with those hard-water deposits.  White gunk so calcified it might look like a excavated fossil, not your bathroom sink faucet.  Or just all splotchy with finger and smudge-marks…  Why does brushed nickel show that so much?  Yech.

What to use? 

#1 – Avoid anything that you would use on the floor or oven.  If you have to get decked like you are going to be conducting chemical warefare with rubber gloves and a face-mask, you’re sure to ruin the nice finish (not to mention the warranty).  Also, some basin/tub cleaners are caustic or acid/ammonia-based, and can harm brushed nickel (read the bottom of this post for more).

#2 – Try a simple soap (dish-soap), a clean rag (not from the work-shop please) and water.  These are usually soft enough to remove finger-smudge marks, which Brushed Nickel is most prone to.  Avoid using scented hand-soaps as these might leave additives or have things like scrubbing-grit.

#3 – The drain parts of a faucet (called the “pop-up” drain) that have matching trim also often need to be cleaned.  Since these usually has water deposits, softer cleaners like Bon-Ami, Barkeeper’s Friend, Zud or Soft Scrub might be good.  Again – beware of anything that is made for harder substances like tile or flooring.

#4 – Do not use scratch-pad sponges like Brillo or steel wool.  These can take almost anything off of steel, but can take the finish patina or protectants – even the nickel, off the faucet.  Soft cloth please!

Why be so careful?
I’m glad you asked!  Most often decent big-brand faucets (like Moen, Delta, Price Pfister, Kohler) have “Lifetime” warranties on the faucet’s finish and function.  They will cover if the finish suddenly starts peeling, but only if a corrosive substance isn’t involved (Ooops, I used Liquid Plumber on the pop-up drain – not covered).  Using those will void that, and admittedly, most DO have a pretty decent warranty department.  Delta Faucet was one I dealt with frequently and they had a fast response.

So, there is the warranty to consider, but also the finish itself.  Each brand has it’s own special finish that they tout will last for “all-time”.  Delta’s is called “Brilliance“, Kohler is “Vibrant“, Moen’s “LifeShine“, and Price Pfister’s “Pforever Pfinish” (they like “Pf’s” – sorry, I’d link that one too, but their site doesn’t have the info). 

What it comes down to, is most of these have a cool PVD finish, which is Physical Vapor Deposition.  This is technobabble for the finish was put on atom by atom (ya, thats a tight bond).  Chances are it won’t PEEL (or crack, chip, etc).  But it might tarnish, fade, etc.  Most of these have a simple seal on them to protect against all the abuse that comes about on a bathroom sink.  Those harsh chemicals can take off that off that protective layer.

http://www.faucetdirect.com/index.cfm/page/product:display/productId/3026/manufacturer/Herbeau/categoryId/64/finish/Weathered%20BrassFaucets that have a vintage or or old-world look or finish be warned – These might have a “living finish”.  They are supposed to tarnish, patina, mottle or fade due to air/moisture exposure.  So cleaning them may take them back to the original base metal, but that may be up to you and you’re preferences.

Lastly, be careful of the internal parts.  Soaking the faucet with rubber or plastic corrosive chemicals can break down pieces that keep the faucet from going BLOOEY.  This includes the crunchy bits like seats (o-rings), valves, or even some basic silicone that may have been used for lubricant for smooth movement (I can’t use a pun here that wouldn’t get me in trouble).

So, you need to clean your faucet.  What do you do?  WHAT DO YOU DO?  If you have the instruction manual (yeah, right), that almost always has a “Care and Maintainence” section.  Failing that, most manufacturers have websites that have the info posted.  What it comes down to is you can use simple soap and water, but if you use something harsher beware of not damaging the finish, warranty and/or internal parts.

Update (9/29/08)
With the recent comments, I am updating this post with more info on specific cleaners to avoid, and things you can look for to see if that cleaner is safe.  NOTE: As most cleansers can change their formula, it’s hard to say “just use this!” so I’ll try to stick to those things that don’t really change, like white vinegar.

Chemicals/Cleansers to avoid using on Brushed Nickel: Delta Faucet states in their FAQ to avoid abrasives and polishes, including bleach-based cleansers.  They specifically state to avoid Scrubbing Bubbles, Lysol Basin Tub, Soft Scrub and Tile Cleaner (avoid on the brushed nickel – it probably works just fine on tile/tubs/sinks).  Beware product that say they “remove rust or tarnish” – those containing hydrofluoric, hydrochloric and/or phosphoric acids, anything with caustic agents (usually mentioned in the warning sections of the product). 

Kohler mentions to avoid anything with ammonia, bleach or acid.  Kohler also suggests considering Windex Original (has “Ammonia-D”?), Fantastic Antibacterial Heavy Duty (avoid the Bleach version!), Comet Bathroom Cleaner (Comet has citric acid – 6%). 

Moen doesn’t suggest anything specific other than 50/50 of white vinegar and water, and a soft cloth.

If I did not mention it before – never use a “Brillo” or other scratch-pad sponge.  It’ll get burnt stuff off the bottom of a pan and will remove any protectant if not the actual nickel off the faucet.