Here are some plumbing secrets from the pros

HOUSTON – As long as there’s running water, we usually don’t give our bathroom and kitchen faucets much thought. But the next time you need to replace yours, you do need to think about where to buy them.

“A lot of people don’t realize that there’s a big difference between what you can get at a big box store and what you can get at a plumbing supply store,” said James York, owner of Southern Plumbing.

Specifically, York says the faucets sold at Home Depot and Lowes are not the same as the faucets sold at plumbing supply warehouses.

The difference

York purchased a Delta faucet at Home Depot and a nearly identical Delta faucet at a plumbing supply store.

The chain store versions almost always come with plastic parts inside, including the drain and pop-up assembly that can easily crack.

Plumbing supply stores have sturdier metal drains.

“When you have a metal drain, you can tighten it almost as much as you want and you know that it’s not gonna leak and that you’re good,” explained York.

The supply store faucets even feel sturdier because they are heavier. You will pay more for the higher quality faucets. The Home Depot Delta faucet cost $40 and the plumbing supply store Delta faucet was $70.

York says this is a case where you get what you pay for. You can expect the more expensive faucet to last longer. York says the same is true of hot water heaters sold at big box stores versus plumbing supply stores. The chain store’s hot water heaters have plastic drains. If you need a toilet or a toilet tank, York says there is really no difference no matter where you buy them.

Plumbing experts say big chains tell manufacturers they only want to pay a certain amount for faucets and water heaters to make them more affordable for the masses. The manufacturers get the prices lower by cutting back on the internal components of the equipment (using plastic instead of metal, for example).

About the Author:

Passionate consumer advocate, mom of 3, addicted to coffee, hairspray and pastries.