Water released by a faucet makes a circuitous journey. It pours out of a spout, shower head or kitchen-sink hose, sometimes going through an aerator where it mixes with air to produce a splashless stream, then flows past a stopper or pop-up plug, onward through a strainer at the base of the bowl or tub into a water-filled trap below, and finally enters the house drainage system.
Compared to the faucets that set the whole process going, these flow-and-drain fixtures are relatively simple. Locating a trouble spot is easy and the jobs that must be done are usually straightforward repairs or replacements. You do not have to shut off the water supply for these jobs–just close the faucets tight.
The difficulty of the jobs, when difficulty arises, is in getting at a fixture and reassembling its components in the correct order. Some of the fixtures between are nestled under sinks, basins and tubs, where work space is cramped and special tools may be needed to unscrew fasteners. Others consist of intricate combinations of small parts, which must be fitted together precisely.
The combination of sink spout, aerator and spray shown here presents the full range of these problems. An aerator unscrews easily from the end of a spout and should be removed periodically for cleaning, because minute amounts of grit in the water supply will wuickly clog it. But an aerator will not do its job if its internal parts are replaced incorrectly.
The spray head also contains an aerator; here, clogging can block the action of the diverter valve that switches water from spout to spray. Concealed in their base of the spout, this valve is the most delicate component of the entire assembly. Like aerators–though far less often–it can clog up, and even a clean valve will not work if its covering fills with grit or dirt. If you have cleaned both aerators and still have problems–low or uneven water pressure, or a failure to switch smoothly from spout to spray and back again–go to work on the diverter valve.
The sturdiest, simplest component of all–the spray hose–is, paradoxically, the hardest to work with. Replacing the hose calls for tight maneuvering under the sink, often between two adjoining faucet pipes. In these close quarters the plumbing tool called a basin wrench may offer the only way of getting at the nut that holds the hose in place.