This winter R&B is running ourAsk an Expert series where you can write in for free plumbing and heating advice. This week’s feature letter is about buying used plumbing fixtures and parts. Is it a way to save money, or false economy?
Dear Rob, I am trying to update my kitchen, but good quality fixtures are SO expensive. Is it OK to buy used? What should I look for? What can I expect the warranty to be? Can I test them before I buy them?
Sinks Are Very Expensive
We have some great re-use-it centres on the North Shore like Urban Repurpose. In many cases, you can find gems in these places that can save you a bundle on your replacement parts. Knowing what to look for, and more importantly what to buy, is key. R&B can help with that!
You can find some nice used faucets, sometimes even attached to sinks however, buying used faucets is often problematic for the following reasons:
- They will be very hard to test without installing. Many great looking faucets have leaks or dripping issues, and that’s the reason they’ve been replaced.
- If they’re not attached to anything, they can easily be missing nuts, bolts, washers and other parts necessary to their installation. You may find yourself back in the hardware store trying to find and buy the necessary, and sometimes odd parts which can quickly eliminate any cost savings. Worse, if you don’t know what you need and install without, they may never work right.
- Some faucets have odd sizes of washers, cartridges and bolts that can be hard to find
- Faucets are notoriously hard to identify for age, brand and model so future parts and potential warranties will be excessively difficult to access.
Don’t be disheartened, see the Exceptions section at the end.
For the most part, kitchen sinks (because they are typically stainless steel) and to a lesser extent, bathroom sinks, are an excellent purchase from a re-use-it store. Here are some things to watch out for:
- Choose stainless steel
- Ensure that any clips or mounting hardware are included
- Ensure there are no cracks, or abnormalities in the surfaces, especially around the drain where it will be important to make a seal.
Often these tubs need a lot of clean-up as they will likely have silicone around the edges and possibly grout to clean off. The right waste and overflow parts will be required to “dress” the tub before it is installed.
Furnaces or Boilers
I would never recommend a furnace be purchased used, even if it’s within 5 years of the manufactures’ date. These appliances can have way too many things that can go wrong. Furnaces and boilers can be the wrong size, wrong application, they can also have plugged or cracked heat exchangers. Since you’ll never be able to tell by looking, it’s just not worth the risk.
Although used plumbing and heating parts are false economy for the most part, there are:
As with any advice, there are exceptions. Here are some tips to ensure you buy used plumbing parts with the best likelihood of keeping the money you save.
- Know what you’re getting, brand, quality and the original retail price.
- Ensure the savings are worth the potential expenses of finding and fitting.
- Buy from a reputable company who will stand behind the product they sell and offer you a refund if the part is broken or defective.
- When buying privately, try before you buy and be handy enough to dismantle it yourself to ensure you get everything you need.
- MEASURE. Ensure you have measured your space and anything you buy will fit.
If you DO decide to buy used, consider doing so from a plumbing and heating company like R&B who may have removed these fixtures from a home, and ensured that all the proper parts have been taken with it for reinstallation.
The Last Word
Buying used plumbing parts can be a great way to save yourself some money, but only if you take the right precautions! Ensure you get those parts installed by certified plumbers at R&B to ensure a professional job with no leaks so you don’t waste the savings on drywall repair!