Know when to replace your kitchen faucet

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We get a fair amount of questions that don’t require a detailed answer, but deserve a response. So it’s time once again to empty the question bag:

Q: I have a Moen kitchen faucet that is leaking. It is a rotating, single-handle, one-hole installation, with no plate. The leak seems to come from a rusted base under the sink and drips down the flexible tubing. Is it easy to fix?

A: Yes, but the fix is to replace the faucet. The rust is the key. The faucet’s innards are shot. It’s possible that some parts need replacing, but for about $100-$200 (installed yourself) you can have a new one. We say live large and go new instead of trying to repair the old one.

Q: Thanks for the tip on fixing a leaky faucet. My question is: I have a two-handle faucet that turns on and off backward. How do you fix this problem?

A: If "backward" means the valve opens when turned to the right and closes when turned to the left, there’s nothing you can do to reverse the operation. This is opposite of "normal," but it’s the way the faucet was designed.

It’s common for some old fixtures — especially wall-mounted laundry tub faucets — to work this way. If "backward" means hot water comes out when the cold valve is opened (and vice versa), simply reverse the supply lines to the faucet.

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Q: I understand everything you had to say about hanging pictures from plaster walls. But my house, which was built in 1963, uses an expanded metal screen instead of wood lath. I normally see this material used as part of a guard on industrial machinery. Do I just use a screw or nail and hope I get past the metal?

A: The metal lath may look like an industrialized machine protective cage, but it’s much lighter. Don’t try the hit-or-miss method. Blind nailing or screwing — especially with heavy pictures or wall hangings — is a bad idea.

Get out the drill, insert the appropriate-size twist bit, and drill a hole for a molly bolt. The twist bit goes right through the metal, and a molly bolt expands in the wall when tightened, providing a secure anchor. Once the bolt is set, back it out a bit, and there’s your hanger.


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