Do You Like Your Pull-Down Kitchen Faucet?
March 11, 2013 10:05 AM   Subscribe

New kitchen faucet is needed, and I've been warned away from the pull-down type of faucet. Do you have one of these, and would you recommend it?

We're in need of a new kitchen faucet.
- High-arc
- Single handle
- Budget tops out at $350-400, but I prefer (much) cheaper
- The sink has four holes for installation, and is fairly deep
- I prefer a clean, modern style, but the kitchen fixtures have "oil-rubbed bronze" finish, and my fiance kinda wants to stick to that finish color (despite my loathing of it)
- Not interested in that capacitive touch-on technology

I am interested in the popular pull-out or pull-down faucets. However, my sister-in-law has warned me away from this style because she says the recoil action in the pull-down hose will degrade over time and it will not snap back into place after awhile, leaving the hose hanging limply out of the faucet neck. She used to work for one of the big box home improvement stores in the kitchen section (but she left in 2009). Have these faucets improved since then? They generally have good reviews on Amazon, and Delta makes some that snap back with the help of magnets. I am not sure if I should follow my SIL's advice or ignore it (with the peril of I-told-you-so's if she's right)!

If you have one of these faucets, I'd love to hear your comments. I'm especially interested in those who have had one of these installed for a period of months or years. Would you install one of these again? Would you do anything differently?

Model and brand recommendations are welcomed, whether you prefer the pull-down type or a separate side sprayer!
posted by aabbbiee to Home & Garden (26 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
We've had one for almost 6 years, with no problems. We don't use that feature a whole lot, though -- maybe only 2 to 5 times a week.
posted by amarynth at 10:11 AM on March 11, 2013

Have two of them for several years--no problems and I use them all the time (and love that they pull out--streamlines dishwashing, lowers water use).
posted by donovan at 10:14 AM on March 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Our faucet (this one, I think) has been in place for at least six years and it works totally fine. There is no "recoil action" really; you sort of push it back in, so there's no stretchy bit to fail. It clicks into place in the faucet itself. I can't imagine that the problems your sister mentions will ever actually happen to this faucet. I use it daily.

I grew up with a separate side sprayer which lasted for at least eight years, also with daily use. I prefer the single pull-out type as I have yet to accidentally spray myself with it like I did with the separate one.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 10:15 AM on March 11, 2013

We have one on our small kitchen sink. It's a small prep sink so we don't use it as much, but after almost five years we've had no trouble.

Our larger kitchen sink, the one we do the dishes in, has a pull-out sprayer but it sits down in the holder so snapping back isn't an issue. The only issue with that one was that it started leaking after four years and we had to replace the hose under warranty.

On both sinks, the weight on the hose under the counter is key. It's difficult to adjust it in the right spot.
posted by bondcliff at 10:19 AM on March 11, 2013

I installed one of those in my house, and I loved it. We've since sold the house, and moved and I miss it (although my new apartment has something similar).
posted by hrj at 10:20 AM on March 11, 2013

FWIW, in many (most?) of these pull-down faucets, the recoil mechanism is basically just a weight that's attached to the hose, so it's gravity that pulls the faucet head back into place. There isn't a spring or anything to wear out.
posted by sriracha at 10:20 AM on March 11, 2013 [9 favorites]

I love my pull out faucet. The "mechanism" on mine that snaps it back is simply a strategically placed heavy weight. So unless gravity changes, I can't see any way that it would stop working.
posted by The Deej at 10:23 AM on March 11, 2013

My parents were redoing their kitchen a while back, and we heard this same caveat. However, some people recommended Grohe as a quality brand that might have fewer issues.
posted by Madamina at 10:24 AM on March 11, 2013

The sink has four holes for installation

This is one of the things that matters the most for your choice of faucet. Most single faucet with unilever designs use one big hole with hot and cold connections to the pipes under the counter. The multiple hole sink configuration is for discrete hot and cold tap sets. I've seen four hole sinks used for hot, cold taps, faucet and spray hose, which might be another option for you.

Adapter units can be found, but you'll need to pay attention when you purchase.

As other have said, these things are very simple mechanically. It's a metal flex hose with a weight on it. Unless the weight falls off, there is really nothing to fail. I installed one in our kitchen a couple of years ago. We got ours from Costco, which often has good pricing on fixtures compared to the big box hardware stores.
posted by bonehead at 10:40 AM on March 11, 2013

Our current house came with one of these faucets, and it does do the "hang down limply" thing. If I actually shove it back up into place, it will usually stay (not always), but it doesn't snap into place. I think it's about five years old based on when the rest of the kitchen was remodeled (certainly no older). But it may have been abused before we got it, and maybe it just wasn't the best quality unit in the first place. If it weren't for this issue, I'd love it - I do really like the functionality.
posted by primethyme at 10:41 AM on March 11, 2013

Like my pull-down kitchen faucet? I'd marry it if I wasn't married already! Our contractor said: "Well, you'll probably be wanting a swan faucet, right?" I had no idea what he meant. I was just so sick of all the renovation decisions at that point and hadn't had any reno work done for thirty years. When I visited the fancy bath/kitchen place the contractor sent me to, I said to the salesperson: "I want the bottom of the line." She held up two faucets and I said: "The cheaper one." It looked liked some kind of hydra-headed thing with hoses hanging down. I truly had no idea what I was buying.

Fast forward to a year later. There should be a Nobel Prize for this kind of faucet. It's so simple looking yet so functional and useful. I like to imagine the person who invented the "swan faucet" had been waiting in line to pay at a deli, saw a dish washer in back rinsing off dishes with the humongous version that most restaurants had for years and thought: "Hey, I'm gonna knock that thing off for regular kitchens." I have no idea how long it will last, but if it wears out, I'll get another one--maybe not bottom of the line next time, say Louis Quartorze-ish that you could take a shower under. True confession: I've occasionally washed my hair under it as well as a little baby.
posted by Elsie at 10:49 AM on March 11, 2013 [4 favorites]

Sometimes the accumulation of junk under your sink can interfere with the free movement of the hose and/or weight, leading to the non-retracting situation you describe, but I've never had any other problems with the 5 or 6 year old pull-out sink we have.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:50 AM on March 11, 2013

My pull-out faucet is only 1 year old, so I can't really answer to the long-term thing. However, the thing with the weight is true - except that over time, faucets do stop retracting right sometimes, perhaps if the hose gets stiff, or there's friction in the wrong places, somehow the weight just doesn't quite hold it closed, or it will hold it closed but it takes a focused shove to make it retract into place instead of moving effortlessly. I can't explain it for a systems as simple as a tube with a weight on it, but it's true. Unless somehow the hoses and weights have gotten better in the last 10 years, which could also be very true.

The other cool thing that's happened in the world of faucets in the last 10 years is the magnetic attachment. It's still got the hose and weight system, but there's a magnet on the faucet paired with one on the handle that locks it into place and prevents drooping out of alignment. You can google "magnetic faucet" or brand names like Delta's Magnetite.
posted by aimedwander at 10:55 AM on March 11, 2013

I've had two pull-down faucets. The first was a "PF" brand, which I think is Home Depot's private label. Cost about $100.

It was shitty. In fact, it was so shitty it almost destroyed my house. Not because of the pull-down action, but one of the supply lines burst after about 3 years of use, apropos of nothing. If I hadn't been standing in the next room when it let go (and thought "hey, that sounds like water running, but there's nobody in the kitchen... ohfuckohfuckfuckFFFFUUUU"), it would have flooded the house. Bad business. Avoid, avoid, avoid.

I replaced it with a Moen, which was like $300. It's better in every way. It retracts better, the supply lines seem more solid (something that I now pay close attention to), general fit and finish are better, and you can angle the spray in a way that you couldn't on the PF.

So, my recommendation is do not buy a cheap faucet. Get one of the good US or European brands with a lifetime warranty: Moen, Kohler, American Standard, Pfister, Delta, Hansgrohe (sold at Costco now!), etc. I can't speak personally to ones besides Moen and Delta, but when I looked at them they all seemed about the same, and way better (fewer plastic components, etc.) than the cheap ones.

If you think about how many times you'll touch the faucet over its lifetime, and how much of a pain they are to replace (and not to mention the risk to your house if it fails spectacularly), it doesn't make sense to cheap out on it. It's something you're going to use every day, several times per day, and if it's crappy you're going to be cursing at it that often. Spend the money for a really good one.

And yeah, you need to keep the area beneath the faucet clear to get it to retract correctly. I also think that sometimes, retraction problems can be solved by moving the counterweight on the hose below the faucet around. But it's probably mostly due to cheap rubber used in some faucets, hardening up over time.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:55 AM on March 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

Had 1 of these for years just got another one. Make sure you get one that relies on a magnet holding the faucet head in place rather than a tension or spring loaded one. Springs wore out on my first one pretty quickly so it's a little ugly dangling there.
posted by M Edward at 10:56 AM on March 11, 2013

We have had two. The first one was a pull out from a relatively straight profile, something like this, except it was a delta, not a grohe. We had the retraction problem with that one.

Our new house is almost identical this one, which I think was installed around 2005-6, and continues to work just fine. Sometimes it does not snap back quickly, but I find that this usually is because our three year old has twisted the head around and straightening it up fixes the issue.

Incidentally, I had no idea a faucet could cost so much; we put new grohe showerheads in two showers recently and they were, I think, around $80. We've been happy with all the grohe stuff we have.
posted by dpx.mfx at 11:10 AM on March 11, 2013

I miss living with one - it was so very convenient. Add me to the list of fans.
posted by Edna Million at 12:03 PM on March 11, 2013

We have a Moen very much like this one. It's 14 years old now, and we've had no problems with it. The retractor mechanism is an adjustable weight. This design also allows gravity to hold the handle in place -- which seems like a good idea.
posted by toxic at 12:04 PM on March 11, 2013

We had a hard time finding a good oil-rubbed bronze faucet, and settled on this Hansgrohe. Price is a little higher than your budget, but so far it has been excellent.
posted by Diddly at 12:41 PM on March 11, 2013

As was mentioned before, the pull-back action is just a counterweight under the sink, so the only thing that breaks that is having crap in the way. I think the issue tends to be with the snap that holds the faucet head securely into the pipe, and those used to break on some of the pull-down kinds, so that it might dangle a bit. The one we got a few years ago uses a magnet to snap the head firmly in place rather than a plastic snap, and that works like a charm with no point of failure. I would recommend looking for one like that.
posted by thejanna at 1:04 PM on March 11, 2013

I have this Pfister one and like it. It can be used by left-handed people, and is easy to turn on using my wrist when my hands are dirty, unlike many single-handled ones. Its proportions look better in person than in that photo.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:12 PM on March 11, 2013

You need to buy one which, in addition to the usual recoil capability, has a magnetic "lock" to keep the faucet head in the "home position". This roughly doubled the cost or the faucet we had installed during a recent kitched remodel, and was done on the strong recommendation of our plumber, who had nothing to gain by making this suggestion.

These things are great, and I can't imagine going back to our old faucet.
posted by imjustsaying at 6:12 PM on March 11, 2013

I have had one from IKEA for almost 4 years now. No problems at all, and I love it.
posted by litlnemo at 11:56 PM on March 11, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers, everyone! I appreciate it so much. You've convinced me to go ahead with a pull-down faucet. I will clear out the under-sink cabinet in preparation for the installation!
posted by aabbbiee at 6:57 AM on March 12, 2013

We've had two Grohe pull-down faucets since 2005 and haven't had a single problem with them.
posted by cooker girl at 8:40 AM on March 12, 2013

Response by poster: We installed a Delta Leland pull-down faucet on Friday. The plumber was pleased with the quality of it. Thanks again!
posted by aabbbiee at 7:34 AM on March 18, 2013

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