DEAR MIKE: I have a kitchen faucet with a sprayer that doesn't work. When I press the button on the sprayer, the water coming out of the faucet decreases, and water just dribbles out of the sprayer. It is a little difficult to clean dishes or wash the dog with only a dribble of water. What is the best way to fix it? -- Melanie S.
DEAR MELANIE: Do you really wash your dog in the kitchen sink?
There are sprayers that sit beside the faucet spout, either in a deckplate or on the sink itself, and there are pull-out spouts that act as sprayers.
Top manufacturers have lifetime warranties on their faucets. This means that regardless of whether you bought the faucet or it came with the house, or even if you don't have a receipt for the faucet, some manufacturers will replace any defective parts for free. All you need to do is call them, answer some questions, and the parts will arrive at your doorstep ready to be installed.
Plastic sprayers and vinyl hoses can be bought at home centers for less than $15.
In many cases, the sprayer gets clogged and/or corroded. Just unscrew the sprayer from the hose and twist on the new one. While you have the sprayer off, you might blow out any debris from the hose by holding it down into the drain and turning on the water.
You can unscrew the sprayer head, but you will want to remove the metal retaining clip, too. This will come out with needle-nose pliers.
Pull off the nut on the end of the hose under the sprayer, reinstall the new nut with the retainer clip, then stick on the washer and screw on the new sprayer head.
If all this sound like too much trouble, you can buy a new sprayer and hose already assembled, but you will need to lay under the sink and disconnect the old hose and reinstall the new one. Use a basin wrench to unscrew the nut that holds the hose to the faucet body. Wrap the threads three times with Teflon tape and screw on the new one.
The thing most people with vinyl hoses complain about is that they don't pull out easily. The hoses have been wrapped tightly in a package for months or years and they tend to maintain this shape for a while.
Try running hot water through the new hose to relax the vinyl. It won't happen overnight but it will get easier to pull out.
Sprayer hoses, whether vinyl or metal, tend to get caught in the sink's piping when you pull them out, or they don't want to retract back into the sink.
For the retraction problem, you can buy a hose weight. Install this about two inches from the bottom of the hose to keep constant weight on the sprayer head. Simply connect the two halves and screw them together.
If the hose won't pull out very far, it is getting caught on the water supply valves or the piping underneath the sink. You can either place something over the valves so that the hose can't loop around them, or you can insert the hose in a short section of pipe.
You can use a foot-long length of three-quarter- or one-inch pipe and cut a slot lengthwise in it. Push the hose into the slot. This will effectively shorten the loop enough to where the hose can't get caught on the valves. As you pull the sprayer out, the pipe will ride down the hose and then settle back into place as you replace the sprayer.