|Old Dumb faucet with a very short reach|
I replaced my kitchen faucet, and I learned some useful things in the process.
My kitchen was redone very nicely sometime around 2000. Unfortunately, the faucet was problematic for two main reasons. First, it was leaking. It wasn't dripping when it was turned off, but when it was on, water would dribble out around the swivel joint that allowed you to turn the faucet from side to side. I could presumably have fixed this leak with a replacement part, but the second problem made me disinclined to bother. My kitchen sink is quite large, and the faucet was too small for it. I always had to lean way over the sink to wash my hands or do the dishes, which is ergonomically terrible. Also, the water inevitably splashed all over the counter behind the sink and made mess. So, I decided that I really wanted to replace the faucet entirely.
Faucets can be made with a few different types of internal mechanisms for controlling the flow of water, including compression washer, ball, cartridge, and disc. If you are interested in the details of these and how they work, this overview from about.com explains it nicely. Based on the information I found there and elsewhere, I decided I wanted a disc faucet because they last forever with little maintenance. It turns out that most of the "good" faucets being sold these days are this type anyway (Faucet.com's catalog has over 2000 ceramic disc faucets and less than 400 of all other types combined).
Spout "reach" is the technical term in faucet-speak describing how far the faucet extends horizontally from the base out over the sink. My old faucet's reach was no more than 6 inches, and after measuring my sink, I decided I wanted one with a reach of 11 or 12 inches for maximum practicality and comfort. Faucet.com very conveniently lets you filter their large catalog by spout reach. That narrowed the field considerably, as there aren't too many on the market with such a long reach.
I was astounded at the prices for faucets. These seemingly simple mechanical items cost $400-$1400! Whew! After looking at the prices, I procrastinated for months, until one day I sat down and figured out the secret. Kitchen faucets designed for the "home" market are horrendously expensive, but "commercial" faucets, which are basically the same thing, are drastically cheaper. The "home" faucets are made to look pretty or fancy or frou-frou, and you pay a huge premium for aesthetic design that doesn't contribute to the functioning of the faucet. I wasn't particularly enamored with the aesthetics of any of the "home" faucets I saw anyway; I wanted something simple that would fit the Craftsman style of my house and without any of the bells and whistles that would be likely to break or leak.
The Moen 8717 with a 12-inch reach was exactly what I wanted, and at 1/3 the price of the typical "home" faucets of seemingly similar quality, it was a no-brainer. It's simple, elegant, and high quality. I also purchased the optional spray hose to make sink cleaning easier, a feature my old faucet did not have.
Then came the next step in the learning process: installation. I watched a couple of YouTube videos (a seriously useful tool for all sorts of home projects) and determined that I could easily do this myself. Well...now that I've done it once, I can confidently say it will be easy if I ever do it again. It really wasn't difficult, but I had a few hiccups.
Taking the old faucet out was easy. Nothing was rusted shut, thankfully, and once I figured out how to use a hand mirror and a lamp so I could see the bolts behind the sink basin, it came right out.
|Hard water scum|
|New Moen "commercial" faucet with 12-inch reach and a spray hose|
But once I got it in, it worked perfectly! I've been very happy with it so far, and my arms and back will no doubt thank me in the long run for not having to lean way over to wash dishes.