Faucet Basics: Part 8 How to Buy a Faucet

Choosing a faucet is to a large extent a process of elimination. Typically your range of choice is limited by budget, style, and finish. Your budget may eliminate the very high-end choices, and your need for reliability should exclude the very low-end faucets.

You should not even consider a faucet that has not been certified as required by your local or state plumbing code. Uncertified faucets may not be lead-free and cannot lawfully be installed in your house.

You certainly want your faucet to match the style of your home. A contemporary faucet in a cape cottage or Arts & Crafts house may not be a good fit style-wise. But, even after you have eliminated the faucets you definitely do not want, there are still many considerations to think about.

How Much Should a Good Faucet Cost?

A manufacturer's list price is a good indicator of the esteem in which a company holds its own products, but not necessarily of their actual selling price.

Faucets, especially high-end faucets, are often steeply discounted by retailers and suppliers. The prices you should be interested in (and the prices we publish in our reviews) are the actual "street" prices at which a faucet can be purchased.

Street prices for faucets these days are all over the place. Alternative retailing through the internet has created tremendous price pressure on established local retailers. For value received, faucet prices have never been lower. It is entirely possible to pay more than $20,000 for a faucet, but also possible to buy a good, well-made, stylish faucet for less than $200.00. Forget the style, and a solid, all brass faucet from a reputable company can be had for $35.00. It won't be much for looks, but it will provide trouble-free service for years and years.

"Top of Mind" Faucet Brand Awareness
Survey Results

Our survey question — When you think "faucet", what is the first faucet brand that comes to mind. — was answered by 1,771 readers. Discounting multiple answers from the same reader, blanks, and nonsense responses, here are the results. (The totals may not sum to exactly 100% due to rounding error.)

Rank Company Percent
1 30.97%
2 24.15%
3 21.49%
4 6.73%
5 2.15%
6 1.43%
7 1.00%
8 0.86%
9 0.72%
10 (tied) 0.57%
11 0.53%
12 (tied) 0.43%
13 (Tied) 0.29%
14 (Tied) 0.14%
15 All Other 4.01%

The brand awareness survey reveals no surprises. The top three U.S. faucet makers — Moen, Delta, and Kohler — are the top brands in the minds of over 75% of potential customers — a reflection of their percentage of sales in the U.S. and Canada — also 75%.

Importers of Chinese and Taiwanese faucets 6%, The hundreds of other brands, including the upscale European brands, divide up 19% of the market, but their share is growing.

Under $100

As a general rule, faucets priced below $100.00 are suspect. Not always, but much of the time. They probably contain critical parts made of zinc or a zinc alloy, or worse, plastic.

But, if you are careful, you can find good, all brass faucets for less than $100.00. You just have to know what you are looking for. The golden rule of faucet buying is that "weight equals quality". Metal is heavier than plastic, and brass is heavier than zinc. A true, thick-walled brass faucet like one from the can easily tip the scales at a hefty 5 lbs. or more.

Hose Bibbs: To see how much a good faucet should weigh, ask the sales clerk for a brass hose bibb — the faucet used outside your house. Your lavatory faucet should weigh at least this much. A kitchen faucet should weigh more.

We usually go the extra step of taking the faucet apart to see what it's made of. If it's all brass, we burn a little incense to the fickle gods of good bargains. If it's plastic, we take it back.

Thanks for Your Help

Thanks and a big tip of the hard-hat to the many readers who suggested improvements to this page. Most of the suggested changes have now been incorporated.

Our gratitude also to all who wrote in to suggest faucet lines that we ought to review. We regret that we cannot, however, review every faucet made. We limit our reviews to faucet lines with which we have some experience.

There are hundreds of boutique faucet companies and some major manufacturers that we don't know anything about simply because we have never bought one of their faucets. We do not mean to imply that by leaving a faucet out of these ratings the faucet is a bad product. It means only that we just don't know enough about the faucet to rate it. We appreciate the feedback, however, so keep it coming.

If you are a faucet manufacturer and feel we made factual mistakes about your company or products or have not treated your company or products fairly, let us know your specific objections and we will reexamine our review. Anything you write, however, is subject to being reprinted by us on this website for public view.

E-mail us at starcraftreviews@yahoo.com.

We won't immediately veto a faucet that contains a little zinc. It depends on what part is zinc. A zinc handle or plate is not a deal killer. Zinc body or spout, toss it back into the sales bin.

How to tell if a faucet is zinc? Unscrew the and peek inside the spout (a keychain flashlight might be useful here). If it is "brassy" or brown, it's brass. If it's gray, black, or silvery, it's zinc.

$100 - 300

Most faucets priced between $100.00 and $300.00 are going to give good service for many years. The key is good materials — brass and stainless steel — and a known brand name.

The faucets at the lower end of this range tend to be the traditional, established styles, while those at the upper end are often somewhat more au courant. Generally, the innards are about the same, so the quality of a tested and certified faucet at this level is rarely an issue.

Getting parts might be. If the faucet fails, you will want to know that the company that made it will still be in business and any necessary repair parts are still available.

Over $300

Above $300.00 you are paying a premium for style, status, finish, a prestige brand name, boutique manufacturing, and/or small production runs. The quality of the mechanics of the faucet will probably not be much better than a faucet you can buy for less than $300.00, and in some cases are actually worse.

Even at this level, prices run the gamut. Just for fun, we priced a KWC kitchen faucet that we know to be a good quality faucet. The price ranged from $300.00 to $805.00 from reputable online retailers.

High-style faucets produced in limited runs tend to cost more, which is why a faucet mass-produced by faucet, although the quality of both faucet lines is generally very good.

If you are interested in buying a North-American-made faucet, there are a few things you should know.

First, disregard the popular notion that almost nothing is manufactured in the U.S.A. or Canada these days. Not true, at least when it comes to faucets.

Some manufacturing has been moved overseas, but scads of excellent faucets are still manufactured by U.S. and Canadian companies in North America — faucets equal in quality and craftsmanship to any in the world.

In fact – and here's a shocker – Most of the faucets sold in North America are still manufactured or assembled in North America. Foreign-manufactured faucets account for less than 35% of faucet sales in the U.S. and Canada.

Admittedly, it is sometimes hard to tell which faucets are made here. Companies that have moved their manufacturing overseas often take great pains to "deemphasize" the fact. It's not that they actively conceal the fact. They just don't talk about it.

for example, despite its name and distinguished pedigree as a pioneering U.S. sanitary wares manufacturer, does not manufacture or assemble a single faucet in the U.S. or Canada. It is now a Japanese-owned company, and while it still designs its faucets at its U.S. headquarters in New Jersey, the faucets are made in Mexico and China from components manufactured in Asia, mostly China.

American Standard no longer has any faucet factories in the U.S. or Canada. They have all been closed at the cost of thousands of good American manufacturing jobs.

(formerly Price-Pfister), although still American-owned (by Spectrum Brands — those wonderful folks who bring you the George Foreman Grill and Dingo Dog Treats), also does not manufacture any faucets in the U.S. or Canada. It, like American Standard, manufactures, in Mexico and China.

Price-Pfister once owned the largest foundry west of the Mississippi. Its Pacoima, California plant manufactured Pfister faucets for most of 40 years, making 1,500 faucets a day at its peak and employing 1,600 Americans.

On the other hand, a Japanese manufacturer, assembles hundreds of its sanitary ware products in the U.S. Dozens of Toto's sinks, toilets, and bath accessories quality as "Made in U.S.A". Go figure! All of its faucets, however, are made in China and imported.

Many traditional U.S. faucet companies are still manufacturing, or at least, assembling faucets, in the U.S. including the old standards: and some less well-known old-line American faucet companies like Up-and-coming newcomers such as also manufacture or assemble their faucet in the U.S.

The Replacement Parts Problem

Faucet Parts

Not much though is given to getting replacement parts when buying a faucet, but it should be a primary concern.

No faucet lasts forever. Eventualy it will fail. It may be in a few months or after many decades, but ultimately it will need repair. Most repairs require parts.

With North A­mer­i­can-based fau­cet companies, parts are seldom an issue.

If you have a problem with a Koh­ler, Mo­en, or Del­ta fau­cet, you don't call Home De­pot or the Ace hardware store where you bought it. You call the manufacturer's support hotline to get it solved.

If you need parts, the fau­cet manufacturer provides you with the parts – not the retail seller or distributor.

If the fau­cet manufacturer is not located in North A­mer­i­ca, the product support solution gets a little trickier.

Most major foreign fau­cet manufacturers sell in North A­mer­i­ca through a local subsidiary that provides the necessary support for North A­mer­i­can buyers.

Companies like Danze, Dorn­bracht, Gro­he, Hans­gro­he, KWC, Pa­i­ni, and To­to, to name just a few of many, handle post-sale support issues through customer service based in the U.S. or Can­ada.

A few Eur­ope­an and As­i­an faucet manufacturers that make store-brand faucets also maintain service centers in North A­mer­i­ca to handle back-end support for the retail chains that buy their faucets for private branding.

Globe Un­ion, Lo­ta, and Pa­i­ni all provide warranty and parts support for the U.S. and Can­a­di­an retail stores that buy and re-brand their fau­cets. These include Home De­pot, Lowes, Men­ards, Cost­co, Sam's Club, and the Ace, True Val­ue, and Do-it-Best buying cooperatives.

If you call the technical support telephone number for a Peg­a­sus fau­cet purchased at the Home De­pot or an Aqua­source faucet from Lowes, you will likely reach Globe Un­i­on or Lo­ta customer support.

However, if the companies that supply the fau­cets do not maintain customer service or parts operations in North A­mer­i­ca for the faucets they sell in wholesale lots to North American importers, and most don't, the parts problem may be unsolvable.

Unlike larger operations with deep pockets, small companies cannot reasonably afford to maintain large parts inventories for every fau­cet they now sell or have sold in the past. Typ­ical­ly the company can scavenge parts from faucets still on the shelf as long as a particular fau­cet model is being sold but when it is discontinued, there is usually no further availability of replacement parts.

Brasstech, the Masco manufacturing company, assembles and finishes its faucets in the U.S., although from mostly Chinese components.

Canadian faucet manufacturers are still going strong, just not as strong as in times past. These include

Many Canadian faucet companies no longer manufacture in Canada, if they ever did.

When is it Made in North America?

There is no U. S. or Canadian law that requires faucets to disclose the amount of domestic content. Many companies do so, however, for advertising and marketing purposes. The "Made in USA" and "Made in Canada" labels still count for something. If a company voluntarily discloses its products' content, then it must comply with the "Made in USA" policy of the Federal Trade Commission or the Competition Bureau of Canada.

Did you know that...

Canada flag Canada produces more submarines than any other country except China, Rus­sia, and the U.S., and that most Can­adi­an submarines are privately owned?

What Can­adi­an company owns them and what are they used for?

To qualify for a "Made in USA" or "Product of Canda" sticker on the box, a faucet must be all or virtually all made in the respective country. This means, at minimum, that …

• The final assembly must be done on U.S. or Canadian soil.
The final assembly must result in the "substantial transformation" of the faucet into its finished form. For example, it is not sufficient if all the company does is attach handles to a foreign-made faucet, because the resulting transformation is not "substantial". The faucet was already a faucet before the handles were attached. It was not transformed into a faucet by the final assembly.

• "[A]ll or virtually all" U. S. or Canadian made components.
While some incidental parts may be made elsewhere, the critical parts must be made here. For "Made in USA" claims, the FTC's enforcement policy allows only a "de minimis or negligible amount of foreign content." For example, a faucet may have "hot" and "cold" label buttons made elsewhere and probably still be "Made in USA". But, if its handles, cartridge or body were manufactured outside the country, it is not made in U.S.A. because these are critical parts of a faucet, and not at all de minimis.

The Canadian rule is similar, but less strict. For a faucet to be a "Made in Canada" the Competition Bureau requires that at least 51% of the total direct costs of producing or manufacturing the faucet have been incurred in Canada."

A faucet that includes substantial foreign content may be marked "Assembled in USA" when it has undergone its final assembly in the United States. The assembly must result in a "substantial transformation" of the faucet. Merely adding a few parts to the finished faucet, or bolting a few major components together — so-called "screwdriver assembly" does not qualify.

Manufacturers may also use "Made in USA of Imported Materials" or a similar qualifying language to describe a faucet assembled in the U.S. As a consumer you must remember that anything other than an unqualified "Made in USA" claim actually means "Assembled in USA" no matter how clever the qualifying language — "90% Made in USA" just means "Assembled in U.S.A.", nothing more.

There is no "Assembled in Canada" mark per se. The Candian equivalent of "Assembled In USA" is "Made in Canada" with a qualifying statement such as: "Made in Canada from imported parts" or "Made in Canada with domestic and imported content". Content made in the U.S. is "foreign" content for purposes of "Made in Canada".

"Buy American" Laws

The federal Buy American Act (BAA), first enacted in 1933 in response to the first Great Depression and last amended in 2009 in response to the Great Recession, requires products and materials purchased by the Federal Government or used in federally funded public works projects have "substantial" American content. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act applies similar (although not exactly the same) rules to economic recovery projects funded under the Act.

Manufacturers wishing to provide products or materials to the U.S. government or for public works projects have to identify those that comply with ARRA/BAA requirements. These lists are available, usually by merely asking for them. While the requirements for domestic content under ARRA/BAA are not exactly the same as the Made in USA requirements of the FTC, they are close, and any item on an ARRA/BAA list is likely to be, at minimum, "assembled" in the U.S.

Of course, some companies cheat. Home Depot is was sued for passing off some China-made products as ARRA/BAA compliant, and Fastenal has paid a multi-million dollar fine for the same offense. But, generally the ARRA/BAA lists are reliable. Keep in mind that these are usually not very descriptive. Often they are just lists of model numbers. But, if you have a faucet in mind and want to check it for Made in America, the lists are useful. Many companies publish them on the company website. For others, you will have to ask customer service for an e-mail copy.

Choosing a Faucet

Now that we have a good grasp of faucet prices, style, configuration, certifications, finishes, warranties, and how to determine made-in U.S.A. status, we can go ahead a choose a faucet. If you have not read the previous seven sections. You should go back where you left off, and resume.

There are still a few things to consider, however.

Choose the Sink, Faucet and Countertop Together

There are many more faucet styles than there are sink styles. It's much easier to match a faucet to a sink than it is to match a sink to a faucet, so choose your sink first, then your faucet. Then go back and review your sink choice.

Most drop-in sinks have a ledge at the back with one or more mounting holes for the faucet. The number of mounting holes must fit the faucet. If you have selected a single-hole faucet, you don't want a 5-hole sink. You have to cover those extra holes with hole covers, which is unsightly. If your faucet requires three holes, but your sink has just one, you are going to have a mighty agitated plumber, although most plumbers know how to punch a hole in a stainless sink. If the sink is cast iron, you are just plain out of luck. Hope you kept the receipt.

If your sink is an undermount style, then the faucet will most likely mount through the countertop next to the sink. If your countertop is laminate or solid surfacing like Corian it can be drilled at the time it is installed. But, if it is stone or an engineered product, it may have to be drilled at the fabricator's shop before it is delivered.

Reach and Clearance

The faucet you choose should swing in an arc large enough to dispense water to a good portion of the sink's basin(s). This is the faucet's "reach", and it is determined by the horizontal distance from the spout opening to where it joins to the faucet base. This dimension will be printed in the faucet's specifications.

The faucet should also be tall enough so that you can fit your largest pot under the spout for filling. This is called the faucet's "clearance" and it is measured from the base of the faucet to the highest point of the spout's arch. You then need to add the depth of the sink to that measurement. If the faucet's clearance is 8" and your sink is 6" deep, the tallest pot you can fill is 14" (actually about 13", you need some room to maneuver the pot).

Keep in mind, however, that pull-out faucets and faucets with side sprays greatly extend both reach and clearance and may eliminate any problems. Just place the pot on the side of the sink, and fill it with the hose.

Another option is a pot filler faucet. These are faucets installed over the range so you can fill a large pot without having to then lug it from the sink to the stove. We seldom install them because we don't like them. Putting a faucet over an expensive range without any means of draining the water is to us just a tad short of insanity, especially if you have children in the house who like to "experiment".

Plastic has no place in a fixture meant to give many, many years of trouble-free operation. Look for all-metal construction — by that, we mean only brass and stainless steel with possibly a little zinc where it does not matter – handles and baseplates, for example. Avoid plastic, even a plastic handle. (Acrylic plastic faceted handles imitate fine crystal glass handles on very high-end faucets, but turn yellow and harbor mold).

You can usually tell a good all-metal faucet by its weight. It's heavy and feels solid. If you are not sure how heavy it should feel, ask the clerk to see a hose bibb (the outside faucet your hose attaches to). These are almost always heavy, solid brass. Your faucet should be at least this heavy. Test the faucet out of the box. There are often heavy things in the box (a hose weight, for example) that are not part of the actual faucet.

If parts of the body, spout, or handles are made of plastic, you can feel the difference. Metal feels cold to the touch, plastic does not. Watch out for pull-down, pull-out sprays. Increasingly the heads are made of plastic. Manufacturers will tell you that plastic is better because it does not get hot and is more comfortable to hold. Plastic is not better, and we are finding quite a few problems with plastic spray heads. If you have a choice, and with many brands, you don't, choose metal.

If you are looking at single-handle faucets with a ceramic cartridge, you may not be able to avoid plastic. It seems that all-ceramic mixing cartridges for single-handle faucets are now made mostly of plastic. Some feature a metal stem, and if you have a choice of a metal or plastic stem, choose metal every time. Because the cartridges are plastic, it is important that they meet or exceed the life-cycle standard of 500,000 on/off cycles specified in ASME A112.18.1/CSA B125.1. So, make certain the faucet is certified to U.S./Canadian standards.

Smooth Operation

Turn the handle(s) full on and full off. The operation should be smooth with no hitches, and certainly no scratching or grinding noises. If the handle seems to bind or stiffen in certain positions, there is probably a problem with the faucet. Leave it alone.

Firmly Attached Pull-Out

Make sure any spout pull-out device operates smoothly without catching. It may be hard to tell before it is installed, however, because the hose counter-weight is not fitted until installation. Any pull-out spout can be damaged if it is pulled too far and too hard. You probably won't do this, but your children will. Look for a solid metal-to-metal attachment. No pull-out is immune to damage, but well-attached hoses resist damage better. Just look, don't yank. If you break it, you have probably just selected your next faucet. The faucet industry has been slow to adopt PEX as a hose material, but it is slowly coming around. PEX is considerably stronger than the rubber and cord hoses now the standard.

A Lifetime Valve

Just about any faucet-buying advice, you will read other than ours will tell you that the style and finish of a faucet are the most important elements to look for. (See, e.g. "Before Buying That New Faucet, Think Finish First", HGTV). Certainly, they are important. But, the critical element is the faucet valve. The valve is what makes your faucet work. If it fails, you don't have a faucet, you have a stylish, nicely finished chunk of useless metal. So, if you want reliable performance year after year after year, a good valve is essential.

If possible, get a valve that is all brass, aluminum, or stainless steel. These materials are the most durable. Zinc or ZAMAC is acceptable, if not as durable. If you are shopping for a two-handle faucet, all-metal cartridges are still widely available. If you are considering a single-handle faucet with a mixing cartridge, your choices are more limited. Most cartridges for single-handle mixing faucets are now all-plastic, or plastic with a metal stem. The metal stem is preferred. Only one cartridge maker that we know of still uses brass bodies, Fluehs, and it still uses some plastic in its mixer cartridges.

Next, find out the life cycle rating of the cartridge. The fact that a faucet valve is "certified" is not enough information. You need to know by what standard. A cartridge should be certified under the U.S.-Canadian standard (See "Make Sure the Faucet Is Certified" below) which requires a life cycle test of 500,000 on/off cycles without failure. A faucet certified to meet the requirements of the Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC), Canadian National Plumbing Code (NPC), or the International Plumbing Code (IPC) has passed this test. Many cartridges used in foreign-made faucets are rated under the European EN817 (CE/EU) or Chinese GB18145-2003 standard that requires a paltry 70,000 on/off cycles.

Finding the actual cartridge manufacturer is a little trickier. We like to know if a cartridge is made by a known manufacturer with a good reputation. If the online documentation is silent about the origin of the cartridge, we call customer service and ask. If the faucet uses a name-brand cartridge, the customer service rep will tell us right away. Companies that use a well-known cartridge like to talk about it, sometimes at great length. If customer service does not want to talk about the cartridge or has no information about the cartridge, we assume it is an off-brand.

As a last resort, we go to the store, haul out our handy pocket screwdriver and take the faucet apart to look at the identifying codes that are usually printed or engraved on the cartridge. This requires some agility and at least two people: one to do the work, and one to stand lookout. Store clerks can go a little nutso if they catch us at it, so one guy has to fend him off while the other dissects the faucet.

Another way, less adventuresome, of finding a faucet with a good valve, is to read our faucet ratings at Faucet Reviews and Ratings . We identify the faucet companies that use well-known valves and cartridges by researching each company's valves. Usually, we can find out where the valves come from and who makes them. Then we tell you. But, sometimes we can't, and we tell you that, too, and it generally means a generic, often Chinese, cartridge. We suggest you pick another brand.

Certified Safe, Lead-Free and Reliable

All faucets sold or installed in the U.S. or Canada must be certified safe, lead-free, and reliable. A faucet that is not certified cannot be lawfully imported, sold, offered for sale, or installed in either country. Twenty years ago, it was nearly impossible to buy an uncertified faucet. They were simply not sold here. Today it is a different story. Uncertified faucets are widely available. Our research has shown that over 70% of the faucets sold on internet venues such as Amazon, Sears.com, DHGate, and Rakuten are uncertified, and therefore illegal for sale. All of these sites have policies against the sale of unlawful merchandise, and none of them seem to enforce the policy when it comes to faucet sales.

What we did find on some of these sites, such as DHGate, was wholesale misbranding, with Chinese faucets being falsely identified as Delta, Moen, and Kohler faucets.

Builder sites such as Faucets Direct and Faucet Warehouse do a better job of screening out uncertified faucets. They seldom appear on those sites, and when they do are, in most cases, immediately removed once we point them out. Be careful, however, of Build.com and its associated sites. When we pointed out the contraband faucets for sale it this website, we were asked, politely, to mind our own business.

Never buy a faucet you have not heard of.

Unknown brands have often justly earned their obscurity.

Jerry Francis Leonard, MSE, PE
Engineer, Master Plumber, and Steamfitter

On-line sites connected with big lumber stores: Home Depot, Lowes, and Menards also do a good job of keeping uncertified products from being sold, as do Ace, True Value, and Do-It-Best hardware store sites.

Online auction sites such as e-Bay are some of the worst offenders, even though they also have policies prohibiting the sale of unlawful merchandise. In a count conducted in April 2016, we found 63% of the new-in-the-box lavatory faucets offered for sale on e-Bay were illegal to sell in the U.S. or Canada. In many listings, the brand name of the faucet was omitted — a sure sign that the faucet is illegal — and some listings go so far as to proclaim that certification "does not apply" to the faucet.

But, the worst offenders of all are internet retail sites originating in China. These sites totally disregard U.S. and Canadian laws regarding certification. We found no certified faucets at all on AliExpress, LightInTheBox, or FaucetSuperDeal, even though these sites target U.S. and Canadian customers, even going so far as to establish fulfillment centers in the U.S. to reduce shipping time.

So, where can you be sure that the faucet you are buying is legal in the U.S. and Canada? First, most faucets made or assembled in the U.S., or Canada are legal. There is one exception, however. All of the German and Italian faucets sold in the U.S. and Canada are legal.

But, while many Chinese- and Taiwanese-made faucet brands are careful to comply with U.S. and Canadian laws, many do not bother. And, determining whether a brand of Asian faucet is legal for sale in North America often requires a lot of sleuthing. But, the best course is just common sense. If you have never heard of a brand, check it out thoroughly. Our faucet reviews can help. We identify faucets that are being sold unlawfully without certifications or compliance with federal regulations. If the faucet is a brand you have never heard of, or worse, being sold with no brand name mentioned, avoid it like malaria. This is especially true if the faucet is being sold through an online auction site like e-Bay or an internet general merchandiser like Amazon. A no-name faucet from one of these sites is almost guaranteed to be uncertified.

Never buy an uncertified faucet. Certification is the only way to tell if a faucet is free of toxic materials and safe to use. All plumbing codes in use in the U.S. and Canada require that a faucet be tested and certified to meet both ASME A112.18.1/CAS B125.1 (safety and reliability) and ANSI/NSF 61/9 (lead-free/drinking water safety) standards. Without certification, you also don't know anything about how a faucet is likely to function over the long term. Certification testing ensures that a faucet meets at least a minimum standard of robustness and durability. With an untested, uncertified faucet, you can't possibly have any idea how well it will function.

There are two ways you can do so. The easy way is to read our review of the faucet. We will tell you what certifications the company has. Or, you can ask customer service for a copy of the ASME A112.18.1/CAS B125.1 (safety and reliability) certification, the ANSI/NSF 61 drinking water safety certification, and the ANSI/NSF 372 lead-free certificate. A faucet must have all three.

If the customer service rep does not know about certifications, or cannot e-mail you the certification documents, pass it by. It's not certified. We always ask the customer service rep to circle or highlight the model name or number of the faucet on the certification sheet. If the model name or number does not match the faucet you intend to buy, pass it by.

Beware of forged and altered certification documents. They are common. Unscrupulous sellers such as commonly provide altered or forged certificates or try to pass off a certificate from a totally different company as proof that their faucets are certified. False certificates are getting to be a real problem.

To view an altered certificate and compare it to a real certificate, click here.

Easy to Clean

Look for a faucet that is easy to clean – not just the faucet itself, but area around the faucet. You have to be able to get your fingers in those small recesses. Remember that even the most stylish faucet does not look so good crusted and rusted.

Fingerprints can be a problem with some faucet finishes. Polished stainless steel is a particular culprit, but almost all highly polished faucet finishes will show online and water spots that have to be wiped off from time to time. Some manufacturers recommend using a household wax on the faucet to reduce spotting and online. (Before you do this, go to the faucet seller's website to see if a specific wax is recommended. Using the wrong wax may void your warranty.)

In one sense, are the easiest to take care of because you don't have to take care of them. They will show dirt, oil from your hands and cooking, water spots, staining, fading, and color changes. None of this is a problem because that's what they are supposed to do. They are designed to look like they are not being taken care of. It's a feature of the finish and part of their charm. A little wax will also help keep water-spotting to a minimum. Use the wax the faucet company recommends.

However, if you don't want a finish that looks like it has never been taken care of, then prehaps you should not select a living finish.

Most manufacturers publish maintenance and cleaning procedures for their faucets which should be followed. Almost all recommend against harsh detergents and any sort of scouring — both of which can ruin a finish very quickly. We find the original Windex to be an effective cleaner that does no harm.

Select a faucet that matches your personal style, but still is easy to maintain and keep spotless with just a little effort.

Step by Step Guide to Buying a Faucet

Now that you have read all of the parts of this article, starting here, you have all the information you will need to select a faucet that will give you a lifetime of reliable, trouble-free service. Now let's walk through the actual process of buying a faucet.

Step 1: Read Faucet Basics

Read all of the sections of this multi-part article on faucets, starting here. Already read them? Great! You now have the basic information needed to buy a good, reliable faucet that will give you a lifetime of trouble-free service. You are ready to buy a faucet.

Step 2: Select a Faucet

Follow the guidelines on this page to choose a faucet that meets your needs.

Step 3: Read our Review of the Faucet Company

Read our review of the faucet company. Basic information about the company that will help you decide whether its faucets are something you will be comfortable buying as a lifetime investment. If after reading the review, you are not confident in the company, go back to Step 2 and choose another faucet.

Step 4: Read the Faucet Warranty

Go to the company website and read the faucet warranty. Sometimes these are hard to find. If you can't find it, or it's not on the website, call customer service and ask for an e-mailed copy.

You will be able to find out how confident the company is in the durability, reliability, and longevity of its faucets, and if its faucets have any weak points that might cause the faucet to fail. Anything less than a lifetime warranty should be suspect. If you do not know how to analyze a warranty, go back and re-read Understanding Faucet Warranties.

If the company will not provide you with a pre-sale copy of its warranty on the faucet of your choice, go back to Step 2 and choose a faucet from another company.

Step 5: Get the County of Origin for the Faucet

If our review shows the company's faucet to be made in more than one country, call customer service to get the county of origin of the faucet.

Anything but a straight answer should be suspect. Be especially wary of the evasive or equivocal answer like: "This faucet is made in several countries, so we don't know". If you can't get a straight answer, go back to Step 2 and choose another faucet. If the company says the faucet was made in Wisconsin, but the box it comes in says "Made in China", don't hesitate to send it back. It has been misrepresented.

Step 6: Get the Listing Certificates for the Faucet

Any reputable faucet company should be able to provide you with listing certificates for the faucet immediately. They are requested all the time by plumbers and plumbing code officials to verify the faucet's bona fides. It is not an unusual or rare request.

The certificates should show that faucet has been tested and complies with the three mandatory standards for faucets sold in North America: ASME A 112.18.1/CSA B125.1 for overall safety and reliability and with the lead-free requirements of ANSI/NSF 61.9. These are often three separate certificates but may have been consolidated into two, or even one, depending on the practices of the organization that issued the certificate.

We usually ask the agent to circle or highlight the model number or name on the certificate so we can easily spot it without having to wade through dozens, if not hundreds of model names or numbers.

If the company cannot provide a certificate for each standard clearly showing the model name or number of the faucet you are considering for purchase, pass it by. It is very likely not certified no matter how often or how loudly the customer service rep says it is. To see what a Certificate of Listing looks like, click here for an example from IAPMO, the most widely used certifying agency, for Cifial faucets. Other certifying organizations have slightly different certificates.

Be wary of forged or altered certificates. Any valid certificate will contain the company's name, an indication of the standard used for testing (ASME A 112.18.1/CAS B125.1 or ANSI/NSF 61.9), and the actual model name or number of the faucet you are considering for purchase. If any of those three things is missing, it is probably not a valid certificate. If you are buying from Acme Faucet Company, but the name at the top of the certificate is Szechuan Wang Shu Happy Golden Way Faucets Co., it is not valid for Acme. Some faucet companies will try to pass off a certificate for another company as their own.

An Old Plumber's Trick

Here's an old plumbers trick that we learned years ago (from an old plumber, naturally): 

Put the paperwork for your faucet, sink, disposer, hot water dispenser, etc., including receipts, installation instructions, user manuals, your plumber's business care and warranties, along with any leftover hardware and special tools, in a plastic bag and tape it to the inside of the sink cabinet under the sink.

Even if you forget where it is, your plumber will find it when he or she starts work under your sink.

To see what a forged or altered Certificate of Listing looks like, click here (.pdf). This altered listing certificate was e-mail to our reviewer by to prove the certification of its faucets. Not only was it altered to erase the name of the company that actually received the certification, but it also is not even a certificate for faucets. It certifies stainless steel sinks.

If you think you got a forged or altered certificate, e-mail it to us, and we will check it out.

Step 7: Pay with a Credit Card

Most likely, since you have carefully selected a faucet using all of the information to be found in these articles, your faucet will arrive in working order with all of its parts. But, if it does not, then your first recourse is to contact the seller and get a replacement or refund. But, if the seller is not willing to make it right, you are entitled to cancel the credit card transaction. Credit card purchases are protected under the Fair Credit Billing Act. This law, administered by the Federal Trade Commission, gives the consumer the right to withhold payment on misrepresented, poor-quality, or damaged merchandise purchased with a credit card. Contact your credit card company for the complaint form to fill out. Some allow you to fill it out online.

Step 8: Inspect the Faucet

When you receive the faucet, open the box to make certain all of the parts have been provided. This may require you or your plumber to read the installation instructions. If anything is missing, a call to customer service will often get you the missing parts in a few days. But, also read the installation instructions to see if they are intelligible. International companies such as Ikea or American Standard often use pictures and diagrams in place of text. If you can't figure out the instructions, most likely your plumber can't either.

Step 9: Save the Paperwork

Once your new faucet is installed, put the installation instructions, warranty certificate, receipt, spare parts, special tools, and the installer's business card in a plastic baggy and tape it to the back of the sink cabinet (or hang it on a hook).

If your faucet breaks, you have all the information you will need to make a warranty claim. And, even if you forget where you put it, the plumber will find it soon enough when he starts work on your defective faucet.

Rev. 05/30/21