January 25, 2011

Faucet parts
Photo by Jim Ruen
I document faucet deconstruction with my digital camera to make reassembly easy.

With temperatures well below zero, this past weekend was devoted to maintenance. I tore out old caulk around the shower and the tub and put in new. Some burned-out light bulbs were replaced. (It’s amazing how long you’ll put up with a two-light fixture that has one working bulb.) And I pulled heads off kitchen and bath faucets with the help of my digital camera.

Faucet parts in vinegar
Photo by Jim Ruen
Vinegar is excellent for removing lime build-up from faucet parts.

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In recent years, I’ve found the digital camera to be a great maintenance tool. As I take something apart, it lets me record parts in order for reference when it is time to reassemble. In this case, two of the faucet heads consisted of a shell, two discharge screens inside a retainer, a button-sized aerator head inside a second ring and at the top of the unit, a ring with the primary screen that stops large particles. From past experience, I knew an image would come in handy. The third faucet had a shell and a cartridge … even I could remember the order there.

Living in limestone country, our water is hard even with a water softener. Lime deposits had nearly plugged screens and built up on the shell tip. Lime very likely was growing inside the aerator, as well.

While there are lots of lime-removal products on the market, my favorite is simple, multi-purpose vinegar. I filled two small jars with vinegar, dropped in the parts and watched them begin to fizz as the vinegar went to work on the lime.

A few hours later all parts were clean, and the faucet heads were reassembled. Hi-tech digital images and a little low-tech vinegar had come through again. Unfortunately, it was still well below zero.

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