Why are so many of your parts made from stainless steel instead of brass? Isn’t brass less expensive?
When it comes to the cost of materials, brass is more expensive than 304 stainless steel (the alloy we prefer to use for corrosion resistance, wear resistance, and cost), however brass is far easier to machine than the much harder stainless steel. Cost is made up during machining and this is what makes brass slightly less expensive.
We don’t currently machine in a high enough volume for the difference in machining costs to make brass significantly cheaper. It is unlikely that we will ever manufacture in a high enough volume because we are a small operation focusing on producing the solutions that customers need but that aren’t needed in significant volume (which is why most major manufacturers don’t supply them).
We find that the cost between stainless steel and brass is fairly similar for us to provide. When faced with the option of purchasing a $24 part that will last 12 years or a $25 part that will last 20 years, we think that the decision is clear.
Why are some of the parts numbers the same for multiple brands?
A good example is part # 100010, which is a ceramic conversion cartridge. You will see the same part number, 99405300070E, listed under both American Standard and Eljer. In 2008 American Standard, Eljer, and Crane merged their companies.
Why are some of your parts compatible with multiple brands or parts?
It’s not just our part; all the parts on a single list are compatible.
Sometimes multiple brands use an identical part. There are certainly a few of the ceramic stems and cartridges that follow this rule. If you choose to use a regular ceramic stem instead of our compression conversion stem, and your ceramic part number is on the compatible list, then any of the ceramic part numbers on the compatible list will work in your valve.
Why would this benefit you?
Some brands or part numbers are easier to find and less expensive than others. Now you have choices. We still feel that our product is the best choice, but what is most important to us is that you have something that works for you, both physically and financially.
Why convert from the new ceramic style back to the old compression style?
In areas with less than ideal water quality hard minerals, sand, and sometimes even small rocks will move through the valve. Sand, rocks, and calcium deposits will scratch or otherwise damage the ceramic discs causing leaks. The ceramic discs are built into the valve stem and, in order to stop the leak, the entire valve stem much be replaced, which is often costly. Replacing these valve stems on a regular basis is financially difficult and overall impractical. Compression style stems have rubber washers that can be purchased for pocket change and easily replaced.
For example: instead of spending $30 every 5 years you might spend $0.50 every 5 to 10 years.
Why do they make so many ceramic valves if they have so many problems?
In 1996 the Safe Drinking Water Act was amended to prohibit the sale of plumbing fixtures or fittings that were not lead free. Plumbing parts were made out of 360 Brass because it does not degrade (rust) in water. UNS copper alloys that are lead free (such as: C89320, C89325, C89831, C89833, C89835, C89836, C89837) are alloys that use bismuth in place of lead. Bismuth is a neighbor to lead in the periodic table and is similar but (unlike lead) is not known to be toxic in humans. What does all that mean to the plumbing industry? Brass is more expensive now than it used to be. Ceramic is not as expensive.
Are there times when ceramic is the best option still?
Sure. If you live in a place with great water, like many areas of Europe, and you do not have the skills and desires to do basic plumbing repairs in your home or business then a ceramic stem makes more sense.
The ceramic discs slide over the top of one another and are machined to be perfectly smooth. It is this low friction sliding system that provides a seal. This system has much less wear and tear on the sealing parts than traditional malleable rubber bibb washers compressing on metal seats when the water moving through the valve is low in hard minerals or debris.
The parts to repair a ceramic stem are still more expensive than the parts to repair a compression stem since a ceramic stem has to be replaced in entirety but the compression stem only needs readily available rubber parts replaced for pocket change. Someone with basic knowledge and desire to repair the faucet will save the most money by using compression stems, however not everyone has this level of knowledge. For individuals living in areas with great water quality who have to call a plumber every several years to replace rubber components the cost can be higher than the cost for replacing a ceramic stem at a greater interval.
The biggest difference here is water quality. I’m biased; although I live in a decent sized city our water quality is poor. I came up with the idea to convert ceramics back to compression because our retail store where we sold ceramic replacements all day every day. Our water chews these ceramic stems and cartridges up and it causes a lot of frustration among homeowners and plumbers. If we had a dollar for every minute of ceramic stem induced tirade all our bills would be paid (possibly several times over).
We want to offer you all the information and a choice. The most important thing to us is that you find something that works the way you need it to.