Oil-rubbed bronze faucets feature a finish that is dark amber in color. A process where bronze is rubbed with oil creates this finish, which requires special care when cleaning and is susceptible to damage when the wrong products are applied to the surface. Other problems with the faucet operation and internal parts also occur. If choosing one of these faucets, take care to maintain it properly and avoid the common pitfalls and problems associated with it.
Oil-Rubbed Bronze Finish Problems
Cleaning oil-rubbed bronze bathroom fixtures takes special attention. Unlike regular faucets, harsh cleaners and those containing bleach may damage or discolor the finish. Oil-rubbed bronze faucets turning green are not uncommon if the wrong chemicals are used; this is because oxidation of the bronze occurs over time.
Never use a harsh cleaner to remove hard water stains or dirt. Polishing the faucet also damages the finish. One of the best ways to clean the faucet is to wipe it with a clean, dirt-free cloth or towel, which removes surface sediments, grease and dirt and reduces the chance of damage to the finish.
Low Water Flow
Low water flow is another issue in oil-rubbed bronze faucets, which is especially true with newer units. These faucets contain water flow restriction adapters that reduce flow rates, which means the faucet operates around 2.5 gallons per minute. To solve this issue remove the aerator and flush it with clean water, replace the aerator and test the faucet. If low flow persists, turn off the water supply under the sink. Remove the handle set screw, take off the handle base and remove the stem. Flush the stem with clean water and replace it.
Replacing Faucet Parts
Due to the finish on your faucet, replacement parts are harder to come by. For instance, replacing the aerator in your faucet is more difficult because most aerators come in chrome or brushed nickel. A chrome aerator will not match an oil-rubbed bronze faucet spout. Faucet handles and handle bases are also more difficult to find. The handles and base must have an oil-rubbed bronze finish. If your manufacturer discontinues the model you own, spare parts will become more difficult to find. Swapping in a part for the model in another finish is not possible because the parts will not match.
Tarnishing and Pop-up Drains
Tarnishing is not a big problem as long as your faucet is sealed. Most faucets today use sealants to protect the metal underneath. When this sealant wears off, the faucet will tarnish, however. Another issue has to do with installation.
Each oil-rubbed bronze finish faucet requires a new pop-up drain installation unless the previous faucet was oil-rubbed bronze and has a matching drain. If the old faucet was chrome, its drain will also be chrome; therefore, it will not match your new faucet.
Your manufacturer includes a matching drain with the faucet. However, this is an additional installation step. If you are unsure how to install this matching drain or have any questions about the repair process, you should consult a professional.
Steve Smith has published articles on a wide range of topics including cars, travel, lifestyle, business, golf, weddings and careers. His articles, features and news stories have appeared in newspapers, consumer magazines and on various websites. Smith holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from University of New Hampshire Durham.