Whether you are shopping for faucets, pipes, toilets, or a new shower, it can be tempting to visit your local big box store instead of a local professional plumbing supply store. You’re familiar with the big box store from decades of weekend supply runs; the prices are lower, everything is always in stock, and there is a wide selection. But are you getting quality supplies? In short, probably not. Here is what you need to know about shopping at big box stores for your plumbing supplies.

Why are Plumbing Supplies Cheaper at Big Box Stores?

While you will most likely find lower priced options at your local big box supply store, they are lower cost for a reason. Most products produced by these large franchises are made of lower-quality materials, so they can offer it at a lower price point. Lower prices are always tempting, but saving a bit of money now may cost you in the long run if your pipes or faucets are low quality. You may find yourself needing to invest in costly repairs that could have been avoided in the first place.

Benefits of Shopping at a Professional Plumbing Store

At professional plumbing stores, you are likely to find high-quality plumbing fixtures and products that will last far longer than the cheap versions sold at big-box retailers. Even better, you will get professional advice from qualified professionals with years of plumbing industry experience. Getting the guidance you need is key to a successful plumbing project that meets your long-term needs. As a plus, you can also learn about plumbing needs and standards that are unique to your region. You can learn about plumbing codes that need to be upheld in your area and how to protect your plumbing and home in inclement weather.

How to Identify Quality Differences in Plumbing Supplies

Spotting the quality differences in plumbing supplies can be challenging to the untrained eye. You may even see the same brands at both the big box store and professional plumbing supply stores. However, just because a product is from the same brand doesn’t mean it is the same quality. An easy place to start is to identify what the product is made of. You will often find name-brand plumbing products at big box stores, but upon closer inspection, you will see that they are made of plastic instead of quality materials like ceramic, metal, or brass. Plastic plumbing products, especially pipes, are not often built to last. The repairs you will get to pay for later when something goes wrong will be far higher than what you could pay for quality pipes in the first place.

What is the Difference Between Professional Grade Plumbing Supplies and Big Box Supplies?

When comparing big box products to professional-grade plumbing supplies, here are a few things to check for:

How Much Does It Weigh?

Even though the two products look almost identical, you may notice a big difference in how much they weigh. Lighter-weight plumbing supplies are often made of plastic or other cheap parts. So while the two may look similar, the weight of the item can’t be disguised. You can check the weight of plumbing supplies by simply picking it up in the store or by reading the product description online. This most often applies to shower valves, faucets, and faucet cartridges.

Check the Inside of the Toilet

Making sure a toilet is high quality can be trickier than faucets and drains. Even if the toilet is made of sturdy porcelain, it may not be a high-quality toilet. To check for quality, be sure to open the back of the toilet and inspect what the flushing mechanisms are made of. A quality toilet will have brass and quality plastic mechanisms, while a lower-quality toilet will have metals that will potentially rust overtime and lower quality plastics. Low-quality toilets may also not have internal glazing like a quality toilet.

Do Your Research and Avoid Costly Mistakes

Low-quality plumbing supplies are often not worth the low upfront price. You will most likely get to replace the parts sooner due to wear and tear or pay for costly repairs when something goes wrong. When purchasing plumbing supplies, avoid plastics whenever possible. Make sure to choose quality products and ensure they come with extended warranties to protect your wallet and your plumbing.

Have questions about plumbing or purchasing the right supplies? Contact Kay Plumbing with all of your plumbing needs in the Columbia, South Carolina area.