Reuben Saltzman

Superior Kitchen Faucets at Plumbing Supply Stores?

There’s a rumor out there that the faucets purchased at plumbing supply stores are superior to faucets purchased at big box home improvement retailers, such as Home Depot.  Just ask any plumber about this, and they’ll probably tell you it’s true.

Here’s how the story goes: a homeowner contacts a plumber to have a new faucet installed, which they’ve already picked out – a Delta Addison faucet they saw at Home Depot’s web site for $349.  The plumber will install the faucet, but won’t give any type of warranty on the faucet, because it’s an inferior product compared to the faucet the plumber would get from their plumbing supply store.  If the plumber provides the faucet, it will cost a lot more money – the list price at Delta’s web site for the Addison faucet is $514.45.

Leaking FaucetThe plumber goes on to explain that the faucets provided by a plumbing supply store are superior; while they may look identical, the ‘guts’ of the same faucet are of a higher quality when they come from the plumbing supply store, and less prone to failure.  For this reason, the plumber will only warrant the faucet that comes from the plumbing supply store, for a much higher price.

Reality Check

I’ve heard this repeated so many times, from so many sources, that I decided to do a little calling around.  I called and spoke with reps from Kohler, Delta, Moen, American Standard, and Price Pfister.  They all flat out denied this claim.  They say there is no difference in faucets that go to different retailers.  They’re all the same.

American Standard said that the drain assemblies they ship with some of their lav faucets that go to plumbing supply stores will be made of metal, while the faucets that go to big box  stores will be made of plastic.

I suppose it’s possible that all of the manufacturers were lying to me, or that the reps I spoke with don’t actually know what their talking about… but how likely would that be?

In the plumber’s defense

So why would a plumber claim that the faucets at plumbing supply stores are superior if the manufacturers don’t agree?  I’m not sure.  Maybe it used to be that way.

At any rate, I have no problem with a plumber giving a warranty on the faucet they get from a supply store, but not a big box retailer.  If a faucet goes bad and it came from a plumbing supply store, the plumber can bring the bad faucet in and swap it out for another, or easily obtain replacement parts if something goes bad.  If the faucet came from a big box retailer, not so.  While many faucet manufacturers have liberal lifetime warranties on their faucets, a leaking faucet can mean waiting around for the manufacturer to ship a replacement piece.  If the kitchen faucet is leaking, who can wait around for replacement parts to be shipped?

Also, when a faucet comes from a plumbing supply store, the plumber has presumably marked up the price of the faucet.  This markup helps to cover the cost of a repair visit.  It’s essentially the price the homeowner pays for a warranty.

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections


9 responses to “Superior Kitchen Faucets at Plumbing Supply Stores?”

  1. karl
    November 6, 2012, 6:51 am

    The value of their warranty assumes that the plumbing store actually stocks the faucet in question and the plumber doesn’t have to wait 3 weeks for a replacement to arrive. Parts are rarely a problem, but having the full units in stock usually happens far less then 50% of the time. I have looked at some of the lock sets that you get at big box stores vs the ones you get from a lock smith. There are more plastic parts in the big box store and the lock smith supplied ones are beefier. A lot of the difference looks to be based on model differences. The funny thing is I had to take the lock smith supplied deadbolt apart to fix it while the cheap ones haven’t been a problem.

  2. Reuben
    November 6, 2012, 9:48 am

    Are you sure the return policies at the plumbing supply store are better than big box stores? I find this a little surprising, since one thing big box stores are known for is lenient return policies. Frankly, I’m not sure I’ve ever tried returning something to Home Depot and been denied – even some things I’ve owned for a while and used quite a bit before they broke.

  3. Travis
    November 6, 2012, 11:56 am

    I think this is just a way for the plumber to add margin to the service. I would assume that most plumbers have an array of common faucet repair parts they can use if something goes awry.

    But this is a common thing you hear about. I’ve heard the same things about tools. The Makita drill I buy at Home Depot had plastic gears, while if I pay 50% more at ACME Tools, the gears will be metal. I don’t buy that at all. To me, it wouldn’t make sense that the manufacturer would have to set up two assembly lines for one model tool, just so they can sell the HD model for less.

    When I was getting PEX certified, the instructor also told us how some inspectors will say that none of the plumbing pipe/ fittings/ whatever you buy at HD or Menards are allowed by code. He said that was flat out untrue, and seemed to be quite irked by the misconception/ misinformation.

  4. Scott Harrison
    November 13, 2012, 8:48 am

    The plumbing and drain cleaning experts at Santa Ana plumbing would like to clear up any concerns. While it is true that a large number of individuals use the bathroom and flush during halftime, this is not something that causes widespread damage to sewer systems.The plumbing definitely gets a workout on Super Bowl Sunday but problems are usually confined to stuffed garbage disposals, clogged kitchen sinks and toilets.

  5. Scott Harrison
    November 15, 2012, 10:16 am

    Contacting a Santa Ana plumber to look at your domestic issues can most of the times cost a lot of money and will make you reluctant to do it. Good services are to be expected when you take out of your pocket a few extra hundred dollars for the aid of a Emergency Plumber. Plumbers are more costly on weekends and national holidays, that is exactly when you will need their help. When you pay a large sum of money for the services, the Plumber usually helps you with great tips.

  6. Jody
    November 28, 2012, 7:19 pm

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  7. Jessica
    January 31, 2013, 3:59 am

    Thanks for the post. I have got the ideas now next time i decide to change my faucet, certainly i will consider these.

  8. Rebecca
    October 30, 2013, 7:11 pm

    You also forgot to mention that the more they spend at the plumbing supply place the larger the contractor’s discount thus letting them make even more off of all of the mark-up.

  9. Tony
    December 20, 2013, 7:07 pm

    I have purchased many things from Home Depot and Lowes. Never, Never had I had a problem with returns and I have purchased a lot of faucets and things. Never had I had to get a plumber in to repair and if I had a problem I contacted the manufacture through the web site or through their phone number and my parts were always shipped next day air.

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