Many people mistakenly believe that plumbing products are all the same. They think that only thing that differentiates the product is the overhead or mark-up the seller adds. This article is a small effort to illustrate why, in my experience there can be significant differences between various “identical” plumbing products, that plumbing products are not created equal. These differences can and will end up costing you so much more money in the long-run. This article is another way that I can try to illustrate why buying the best costs the least. The best products, which last the longest, are ultimately far less expensive. As I have mentioned elsewhere in this site the best brain washing that has occurred is that many (most?) people have forgotten the meaning of the phrase: “You Get What You Pay For”.
Let’s start with my favorite garbage disposal. Here is a collection of different models I have needed to replace, all marked with the same trade name. Notice the variation in model numbers! The one I install, is the Model 5-84. If these disposals were all truly identical they would have the same model number wouldn’t they?
My next examples are from the faucet world.
- A few years back I went to repair a kitchen faucet that was not shutting off completely. Simple rebuild right? So I install the genuine manufacturer’s replacement parts and install them and guess what? Drip, drip, drip. And this faucet was not only made by one of my favorite faucet companies, it was THE SAME MODEL as has been in my kitchen for over 20 years. I have rebuilt my faucet successfully once, just a few years ago. My opinion this was about tolerances. Tolerances are an engineering term that says how close to the measurement is OK? For instance if you want something 6 feet long and the tolerance is +/- one eighth of an inch this means that anything 5 feet 11 and 7/8 to 6 feet 1/8 inch is within tolerance. If a faucet part (or parts) is out of tolerance doesn’t mean the faucet won’t work, it just means, in my opinion that it will not provide long lasting reliable service.
- Another faucet from a well known and great manufacturer, different faucet. The customer bought it at retail. Testing after install and water was gushing into cabinet below (?!?!). Upon close inspection, there was a tiny o-ring on the inside of a quick connect fitting that had not been installed when the assembly was made. The retailer happily and immediately offered to ship out a replacement at no charge. The customer was without a faucet for at least a week until it arrived.
- This is a picture of two faucet mounting nuts, from the identical faucet. Which one do you think was easier to work with? By a huge margin.
- Another faucet from a well known manufacturer had one of the more complex installations as there were separate holes for the spout, control (on/off/hot/cold), and sprayer. The spout was defective and leaked at the base. So the customer had to pay to have the entire faucet removed, ship it back to the internet retailer, wait for a replacement, and then pay again to have the new one installed.
How about pedestal sinks? The sink has multiple design features that enable the proper installation (stable, level, attached to the structure, etc., doesn’t leak). Here are a collection of the problems I have encountered with sinks purchased by customers at the retail level.
- The sink needs to be fastened to the wall. This is done with a mounting bracket AND two threaded fasteners that go through the lower portion of the sink where it touches the wall to prevent it from lifting off of the bracket. In most retail sinks the holes for the threaded fasteners are poorly located. This means it is either extremely difficult or IMPOSSIBLE to utilize them.
- The underside of the sink was not designed properly so that the mounting hardware for the faucet could be readily installed. More time and effort was required.
- The surface of the sink that went against the wall WAS NOT FLAT. For this reason it was not stable.
- The hole in the bottom of the sink for the drain assembly was OVAL, not round. Therefore it could not be installed with the assurance of no leaks.
- The bottom of the sink and/or the top of the pedestal was not flat and/or made properly. This meant that extra time and efforts needed to be made to mount the sink onto the pedestal.
The problems listed above created much more work and cost. And there was no avoiding the fact that it will always be a situation that is prone to leaks or additional problems in the future. Both the customer and I were left unsatisfied with the process. As a result I try to avoid installing customer supplied products and prefer the customer orders it through me and I bring it to the job site.
These are just a FEW, and by all means not all, of the reasons why my customers are better off by following my advice.