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Why is it so hard to find a tap that lasts longer than 2 years?

We are finding it almost impossible to find good tapware. Taps that last. We bought our tapware for a reno in 2005. The kitchen tap has been replaced at least 7 times. This is the type with a ceramic seal, an arcing base (to direct tap from sink to sink) and a pull out head with a shower (harder flow) option. Everything about these taps, of two different brands has failed. Rubber covers perished, the taps have all frozen into one position after less than two years or just over, they cracked, they leaked… When we ask at the various vendors of tappery we get blank stares when we want longer guarantees or better quality. Another set have handles that fall off. Does everyone have trouble with them? Where are the good brands, that last a life time, like the tapware that was in my childhood home. New in 1953 and still going in 2010? The same goes for electrical switches. Ours have all cracked and discoloured since 2006, yet we had perfect switches back in that childhood home. I think my parents replaced them after about 40 years. What do we do to get industry to return to making quality, not quantity. I would happily pay MUCH more for products that work and last.

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No. I still have the same set of taps from when I built the house over 15 years ago. Several have had washers or O rings replaced and one or two have had their seat polished but all function correctly now and none have failed outright.

Not here. I have replaced one switch that failed, in the rest of the house they are original.

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The kitchen tap installed in our house by the previous owners, a builder and young family is 30 years and still going. It is a Reece “Base single lever sink mixer” with a 12 months warranty and 5 year cartridge replacement warranty. Unfortunately I don’t have a specific model as this is all the description that came with it. There is one in the laundry too.

It is chrome, swings around between the two sinks, has a single handle that goes up/down (rate of flow) and left/right (hot - cold mix). It has an aerator. It works OK on our rainwater tanks with filter and pressure pump.

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We have had two similar types of kitchen faucets which failed for exactly the same reasons after about 3-7 years. One was an Ikea ($90 tap) and the other was a Greens Tapware ($300 tap). Both looked a bit like this one but with a longer spout.


These faucets the whole tap turned on its base (inc. the main cylinder) and the internal a rubber seal seals wore out causing leaks from the point between the rotating and lifting top and the base (the joint about 1/4 down from the top on the photo).

We didn’t pick up the leak until too late in both cases. The leak had caused corrosion within the faucet making it near impossible to replace the seal without damaging the internal workings of the tap.

Ikea don’t sell parts to their taps and it about 3 years old when the seal failed. Ikea wouldn’t honor their 10 year warranty as they claimed that our water was corrosive or we had used something corrosive on the tap when cleaning…which caused the corrosion and seal to fail. The only thing we had used was a very weak bleach solution on a damp cloth to wipe the externals of the tap. The water was Brisbane town water.

Green Tapware only has 12 months warranty on its seals (if failed after about 5 years) and does have spare parts, but the tap couldn’t be opened to change the seal due to extensive corrosion. As the seal had failed and caused the damage, they wouldn’t consider a remedy as it was a seal issue and not another part of the tap.

In the end we replaced the tap (third one) with one where the main cylinder/mast was fixed and only the spout rotated. This means the seal for the spout isn’t under pressure and if is fails over time, won’t lead to a continuous leak…will only leak when it is turned on. The seals are also much easier to replace if and when needed.

I would never buy another tap where the whole tap rotates as we have had two experiences of two different brands with the same point of failure…the internal seals. It appears that in our case the limits of tapware has been exceeded in order to get a functional and modern looking tap. The other point is it doesn’t matter how long a tap warranty is, if the weakest part in the tap has a short warranty period or corrosion (which most metals do with water and air) is a reason to exclude a warranty.

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I think that the problems with ours are to do with a changed system of bearings/gaskets to allow free movement of the tap. The mixer part has to swivel and so does a lower part to allow the spigot to swivel and service both sinks. Also the head of this tap. I know a man who was an engineer with BMW and left (quite some time ago) the day they introduced built in obsolescence. On purpose. This is rife throughout the products we buy now. It amazes me that manufacturers get away with it. But it takes so much energy to get replacements or fair treatment. Sometimes it is just impossible. Given the state our planet is in, I really wish we would ALL make a noise about shoddy manufacturing, and deliberate manufacturing of products designed to fail and ensure another replacement sale just out of warrantee.

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I have written to the last tap manufacturer on a regular basis, and they don’t even bother replying, they just post me a new tap head. They haven’t managed to send me one that lasts even half of the warranty period. the bearing on the base of course will be out of warranty. I am so sick of this throw away attitude. The tape heads must be so much cheaper to manufacture than the time to even have someone check I am telling the truth (although what anyone would do with a replacement tap head, without the rest of the tap is probably a point as well). Yet another example of humans blundering into their own filth. grrrr

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We have purchased a number of items of new tap ware as part of everyday house maintenance. The kitchen mixer tap came from Reece, Porcher branded and is like new after 5 years. I think it has a 7 year product warranty. In a previous home the Coroma brand mixer was still going fine after 15 with a new valve insert late in life.

A general observation is the trend in redesigning interiors and keeping up to date looks. Mostly pushed by the business that sells stuff. Products are produced, down to a price more than up to a quality to fuel the churn.

I’d agree that there is no benefit to the manufacturing or retail businesses if we are all happy to keep the one style trend for a real lifetime. Our parents or for the younger set, our grandparents certainly knew the value of making do.

Perhaps one needs to live in a 140+year old timber house to appreciate the value in a recycled life style.

To each their own.

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Just had a look at the bathroom taps - both were replaced in a revamp of the look etc before the house was put on the market, possibly 10 years old. Both have a crack in the tap top, which shows that they are plastic with a “chrome” finish. They don’t swivel, they are a fixed short spout mixer tap. So, perhaps the choice of plastic vs metal quality is partly to blame?

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Operator error can come into the problem of failing taps and switches. @kim6 please don’t think I am suggesting this is you, I just telling stories from my past that may be amusing but relevant.

I have an elderly relative who has a touch of OCD. The kind of person who has trouble getting ready to go out shopping because he has to check the gas is off seven times and the door is locked nine times. Dripping taps is part of the problem.

He has an old house with old taps that have soft washers not ceramic disks. He has quite strong hands and to prevent taps from dripping he turns them off with all his strength. This wears the washers quickly, in the case of dome washers very quickly. Once after he complained that many of his taps dripped (which of course requires them to be turned off even harder) I replaced all the washers for him and polished the seats of a few that were worn and tended to leak. I pointed out that he could now turn them off with just his finger tips and if he did so they would not leak for years. The next time I was in his house and went to the bathroom I had to use both hands to turn the hand basin tap on.

My boss in a high-rise office job had an odd attitude to light and power switches. Instead of flipping with his finger tips he would strike at them. He used stiffened fingers or knuckles to knock the switch up or down. Once we were in the lift to go out and he hit the ground floor button with his knuckles. The lift didn’t move so he hit it again. The design was an array of plastic buttons in a brushed stainless steel plate. He hit it so hard the button popped back behind the plate leaving a hole. He left it to somebody else to phone building maintenance to complain that the lift was broken.

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I had the same mixer tap in the kitchen for 32 years. We never replaced anything on it. I finally bought a new one, with a goose neck, as the old one was difficult to get some pots under to rinse. It had also started to look pretty shabby. I only buy Groh or Hans Groh. They are made in Germany and are excellent. A lot of cheap taps are made in China and are rubbish. You really have to spend a bit more for taps, like the kitchen, that get a lot of use.

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Same here. They discolour or chip or rust. Cheap imports sold as quality products.

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Even though it is a German company, some of Hansgrohe products are made in China.

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I bought a ridiculously expensive Swiss made Ono Highflex mixer w/veg sprayer. The quality of materials is awesome. The mixer is unsurprisingly trouble free after a whole 9 years (<-sarcasm), but the veg sprayer has a problem every 2, almost on schedule.

In hindsight this lay-person thinks the spray design is a classic fail, and has been replaced multiple times under warranty and then under the ACL after having to go formal.

Not asking for any advice, just making the point that price or origin does not necessarily yield a long lasting trouble free mixer, or as in this case the veg sprayer.

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I bought a reece tap and it leaked after a time through the spout. I complained to Reece who promptly sent a plumber around to replace it. Cannot beat that for service.

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That is also true of other brands like Bosch and Miele. I’m always careful to buy the German made item.

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Just because it is German doesn’t necessarily mean it is failure proof or the best quality. We have had 3 Anolon knives replaved through blade cracking and one of these were German made, the other two from their factory in China. Touch wood, the fourth one had outlived any of the proceeding three by about 2-3 years.

Many Chinese products are of very high quality and surpass that made in many other countries. If a foreign or Chinese company has excellent quality control, the products are great, no matter the cost. If the foreign or Chinese company has poor quality control and possibly driven by price point only, then quality can be hit an miss.

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Yes, you can be unlucky but I cut the risk by buying quality. If you get a “lemon”, which can happen, it is bad luck. Buying Chinese made products from a cheaper brand just compounds the likelihood of failure in my opinion.

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Would that more accurately be ‘Buying products from a cheaper brand just compounds the likelihood of failure’?

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Same thing. Most of the cheaper brands are made in China.

We owned a few caravan parks so had multiple taps of all types. Never saw many of the issues that appear here. Had one or two problems with the cartridge types but all the others like on your shower, wash basin and outside taps work similarly and it is essential that you carry out regular maintenance on them. If this is done they will last for decades and generally give you no trouble. I include a few bullet points that may be helpful.

  • Use quality washers. Not the cheap white plastic with the synthetic seal. Some washers are designed specifically for hot water and some for cold. Most are generic but won’t last as long as the specific ones. Worth the extra cost.

  • When you change the washer say the cold one, always change the hot one. While the spindle is out unscrew and clean the centre part and lubricate the worm drive with a silicone grease. This enables the tap to open and close easily.

  • Inspect the round black o ring. It is a good idea to replace it every second time you change the washer. The o ring prevents the water from leaking out the the fitting (as against leaking out the spout). Doing this maintenance when you change the tap washer only takes 10 minutes extra but saves a lot of time later.

  • We keep a maintenance record for all taps which gives an accurate record on how they are travelling.

  • If the taps are old and you find the washer needs to be changed say every 3-4 months then the tap body needs to be reamed.

  • The cartridge taps are much more difficult to service and a bit too complicated to explain here. Most people find it easier to replace the complete tap on those but most of them are serviceable and parts are generally available. We did have one where the body cracked but the experts told us that it is common with the very cheap ones. Lesson learned.

  • One of the important things to remember is not to screw a tap down excessively. Off is off and tightening it down excessively does not give more off. This compresses the seal which in turn helps it to lose its memory and will shorten its life. Sometimes a shower may suddenly drip for a bit but this is either due to water suddenly draining out of the shower rose or your hot water heater building up pressure as it heats the water in the tank. If it leaks continuously the washer is the next stage to investigate.

  • If a tap starts dripping don’t put off changing the washer because the continual leak will eventually erode the brass seat and it will need to be reamed.

  • For troublesome taps that won’t respond to maintenance and cannot be easily replaced because they are behind tiles, you can insert a new body seal. Not a difficult job if you are handy but could save you a great deal of money. This essentially gives the tap a new set of insides and will mostly solve the problem.

There’s a lot more that you can do on tap maintenance but these points should help most people for the commonest problems.

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