If you need to replace the mixer tap in your kitchen, these plumbing tips will ensure you don’t have any headaches with the installation. While most people get stuck for choice on the style of mixer, there are plumbing considerations to be aware of too.
I’ve known for a couple of months that our kitchen mixer tap needed to be replaced. It had started to leak from the spout and cartridge and so I started researching different mixers to replace it with.
I thought I had a bit more time up my sleeve to save for the one I wanted… until midnight on Friday night, I couldn’t get back to sleep.
I headed out to the living room and all was quiet. And then I heard a slow dripping sound.
I thought it was strange because I didn’t think we had any dripping taps.
On closer inspection at our sink, I found our mixer tap had started to leak profusely through each seam and the water trail from the base to the sink drain was the cause of the sound.
I couldn’t leave the sink mixer any longer. It needed to be replaced ASAP.
The mixers I had been eyeing were this Abey Luz Kitchen Mixer for under $600.
I then saw this Dorf Vixen Mixer for $300 in a Bunnings catalogue.
It combined the two styles of finishes that I liked – black and chrome. But everything in me screamed NOOO to getting my taps from Bunnings. After what I’ve shared on the blog and the experiences replacing cheap mixers from Bunnings, I knew I couldn’t go there.
But the Dorf Vixen Mixer was more expensive at Reece. Also, there things I was concerned with – specifically the base ring, the handle and the black matte finish.
Nevertheless, I gave my local Reece store a call. Serena at the Coopers Plains showroom was lovely and told me she didn’t have any matte black mixers in stock. I told her I’d come and have a look at the range and choose from what was in stock. (She also did a quick search in Brisbane to see if Reece had any stock of the Dorf Vixen Mixer I liked while I drove to the store – how’s that for service?!)
I’m so glad I did this.
The reason it’s important to see your mixer in a showroom is for a few reasons:
1. You can see what it looks like installed in person (no brainer).
2. You can get a feel for the handle and work out your preference for a thicker handle or a pin lever. (I don’t like pin – I find it too harsh in my hand)
3. You can look at the quality of the finish and the quality of the extendable hoses if choosing a pull out spray. (some extendable sprays are fiddly to get back into the spout)
4. You can compare the base of the mixer with what you have installed in your current kitchen.
5. You can test the handle back and forth to get an idea how far the handle can go back. This is necessary to test if you have a wall or splashback adjacent the sink. You may not be able to get hot water if the handle knocks the wall when extended outwards.
If you want to check out the best plumbing showrooms in Brisbane, check out this post. I may need to update it, but it will give you a good idea of some places to head to.
When I looked at my mixer on Friday night, I was limited with the size of my base which can vary from 40mm to 55mm. The reason I was limited was because the base of my mixer was originally installed close to the sink mount edge. If I went for a 55mm mixer, the base of the mixer would have hung over that part of our sink leaving a gap and the potential for water to seep under the mixer which is not ideal.
The other point I had to consider was our budget. I really needed something under the $300 mark. (We are getting our car serviced next week at an unexpected cost of over $1000. GAH! That $600 Abey mixer was going to be a no go. I also needed something in stock.)
While I wanted to get a black mixer, it wasn’t going to be possible with the timeframe. So I chose a Mizu Soothe Square Gooseneck Mixer. It had my preferred handle, didn’t have a base ring plate which is notorious for catching grime, and it came in under budget for a little over $200. It didn’t have the extendable spray, but I was happy to forgo this because I hadn’t had this on my previous mixer.
The Mizu range of mixers is available exclusively through Reece. It is made overseas, (not made in Australia as I first wrote, thank you Mark for this pickup!), but the quality has been assured to ensure it is on par with other mixers that are available through Reece.
It looks so fab in our kitchen and I’ve loved using it. I haven’t added the one-touch tap aerator as it would ruin the new aesthetic of the tap.
If you’re looking to replace your kitchen mixer, here are some plumbing points to keep in mind:
1. Always use a plumber to install your mixer tap.
By law, if you don’t have a plumbing license, you can not install or adjust your cold or hot water pipes. When a tap mixer is installed, the hot and cold water flexes are classed as water pipes. If those flexes aren’t installed correctly and blow out and you can’t prove you used a plumber to install the mixer tap, your insurance may refuse your claim. Not only that, it’s the mucking around that has to be done to fix floors, cabinetry and anything else the water damages in its path. So please please PLEASE use a licensed plumber. I’m not saying this to get more money to plumbers. I harp on about it because it’s the LAW.
2. All mixer taps have flex hoses for their cold and hot water.
There has been a lot of debate about the use of flexible hoses in bathrooms and kitchens because they can burst. Flexes have a 10 year warranty. For peace of mind, when your plumber installs your kitchen mixer, get them to install a flood stop valve or arco valve. The flood stop valve will shut off the water if the hose bursts, an arco valve will give you a chance to turn the water off under the sink, if the unfortunate occurs, without having to turn off water at your street to the whole house. On this note, when my new mixer was installed, the hot flood stop valve wouldn’t work. I will be going back to the manufacturer to give this feedback to the brand.
3. Take photos of the existing tap and the way it’s installed under the sink.
Most tap mixers require a 35mm hole in the sink or bench for installation (this can vary from tap to tap) Check the specifications of your new mixer though and compare to the diameter of your existing mixer. The existing hole should be sufficient, but if not, your plumber may be able to holesaw a bigger hole IF it’s mounted in the sink. If the tap is mounted into a marble benchtop, you may need a cabinetmaker with the right cutting equipment to drill a bigger hole. Avoid this cost by taking a photo of your existing mixer and comparing with the new mixer you’re considering. Also, if you do opt for a vege sprayer mixer, you need enough support under the bench for the extendable hose. Take a picture of the way your existing mixer is installed in the benchtop and under the cupboard. I had a look under out cupboard to see how far the hot and cold water points were from the flex hoses. Sometimes these may also need to be extended to reach the hot and cold water points. If you can give this info to your plumber, it will stop them having to leave the job to get supplies if needed.
4. You can convert a 3 hole hob mounted (bench mounted) tap set to a single mixer.
If you have a hob mounted hot and cold water tap combo and separate spout coming through your kitchen sink, you will have 3 holes in the sink. A kitchen mixer requires only one of those holes. You can convert to a mixer from this combo, but your plumber may need to holesaw a bigger hole for the mixer as the hole for the spout or spindles (depending which hole you choose your mixer to go through) won’t be big enough for the mixer. Also, chrome bungs can be inserted into the two other holes to seal them. The plumbing underneath may also need to be configured to the new installation.
5. Mixers with this round base ring at the bottom are notorious for getting grimy.
Consider getting a mixer without this base ring. BUT this ring is super handy if you have marks from your previous mixer. It acts as a flange so may be beneficial for you.
6. Buy from a reputable plumbing supplier.
This is something I learned on the weekend and I’m so glad I listened to my convictions to go to my plumbing supplier. Your known brands that supply to discount hardware stores are not always the same tapware supplied to plumbing stores. Often a brand will make a cheaper run of the same tap to sell through your cheaper hardware stores. Customers who compare taps can’t understand why a plumbing supplier will charge more for what looks to be the same tap. It’s not the same tap – well it is but uses cheaper materials for composition. From personal experience, you want to purchase from a reputable plumbing store because they not only stock the best brands, they keep a record of your purchase and will assist you with any warranty enquiries.
7. Check the warranty of your mixer.
Every mixer will have a differing warranty. The main stipulation to keep in mind is if the tap needs to be replaced or fixed under warranty in the first 12 months of installation, the labour costs for the plumber to come out and replace or fix will be covered (as are the parts). If the mixer is older than 1 year, labour is your cost, but the brand will cover the replacement of parts or a new tap if needed. Again, check the warranty specifications at time of purchase.
8. Choose chrome or stainless steel.
Chrome or stainless steel are the best finishes as they are easy to clean and look uniform with a stainless steel sink. They don’t fade like matte black or other block coloured tapware which will over the time it’s used.
9. Measure spout reach.
If you have a narrow sink, you may need to consider the reach of the mixer spout to ensure it doesn’t extend beyond the sink bowl. The gooseneck styles are a shorter reach than your standard sink mixer so you should be ok if you replace with a gooseneck style.
10. Can’t think of anything else… but how crazy is this post?! There is much to consider when getting a new mixer tap as you can see.
Hopefully these tips will help you choose the right kitchen mixer tap and prevent any hassles in the future with your new purchase. I’ve been through the process myself, and as a plumber who has put together and installed countless mixers, these tips will ensure a smooth transition through the purchase and installation process and beyond.
What has your experience been with installing a new kitchen mixer? Got any tips that I forgot to add in the post?
Thanks for stopping by to read. 🙂
If you enjoyed this post and need to consider styles of mixer taps available check out Modern Kitchen Sink Mixer Taps.