Troubleshooting Tips for Touch Faucet Technology

Technology advances have given us faucets that work with a simple touch rather than the turn of a handle. What do you do when such tech starts giving you problems?

Troubleshooting Tips for Touch Faucet Technology

While there's plenty to keep in mind regarding the technology, the first step in troubleshooting a touch faucet should be treating it as any other faucet repair.

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A few manufacturers have come out with faucets that turn on/off when you touch the faucet. These faucets operate using a solenoid valve. Here’s a look at some troubleshooting tips for this touch technology, specifically geared to the Delta Trinsic Series touch faucet. 

Start With the Basics

The initial reaction when dealing with a technology faucet is to focus on the technology portion. But this should not be your initial focus. First, view the faucet as if it is just another faucet. Is there very little water coming out? Try removing the aerator. If you get plenty of water coming out of the faucet, then soak the aerator in vinegar or calcium lime rust for a while and reinstall and test. If you remove the aerator and still don’t have any water, shut the hot and cold valves off under the sink and remove the supply hoses. Bring in a long supply hose with a bucket and turn on the valves to see if you have water coming out of both valves and go from there.

If the faucet leaks, then shut the water off and remove the index on the side of the handle as well as the set screw and the handle. Once you remove the handle, you will see the bonnet. Remove the bonnet and the bonnet nut in order to get to the cartridge. Once you have access to the cartridge, simply pull it straight out and replace. Make sure you use plumber’s grease on all parts that get reinstalled. This will ensure proper function as well as easy future repairs.

Understanding the Order of Operation

Touch faucets use technology similar to your smartphone screen. The faucet itself has two capacitance sensors — one in the spout and one in the handle. When you touch either one of those spots, it triggers the solenoid valve and turns the water on/off. These faucets are made out of brass since they have to be conductive. With that in mind, let’s dive into the diagnostics of the technology portion.

How to Check the Status of the Battery Pack

The first thing to do is look at the light that is on the base of the faucet. This LED light will turn blue when the water is actively coming out cold and red when the water is actively coming out hot. But when the water is off, if the red light starts flashing every five seconds, you have low battery. The solenoid valve that controls the faucet is powered by six AA batteries mounted underneath the sink.

Delta made a nice system here. If the red flashes are every five seconds, it is giving you a warning to change the batteries. If it flashes every second, the batteries are on the brink of failure. If the light is constant red when the water is off, then the faucet shut down and needs new batteries immediately — in the meantime water will not flow.

How to Diagnose the Solenoid Valve

If you are getting red flashes and the red flashes continue after you have replaced the batteries, you will need to replace the solenoid valve. It sounds worse than it actually is. To remove the existing solenoid valve, first remove the batteries from the battery pack. Next, pull the clip off of the mounting shank. You will notice that there is a clip that slides into the slot on the shank of the faucet. Pull the wire extension out of the solenoid assembly. The wire extension comes down from the faucet body along with the hot and cold supply lines and plugs into the solenoid valve with a tip that looks similar to a headphone jack.

When you put the new solenoid back, make sure you ground yourself before installing. The solenoid connections can be touchy and you don’t want to touch them with a static charge.

No Water

If you do all that and you still have no water flow, turn the handle so that the faucet is off. Remove the hose from the solenoid and then try to turn the faucet on. If you get water, then you need to clean the solenoid water filter. If you have water coming to the solenoid, you cleaned the solenoid filter, and you still don’t have water coming out of the solenoid valve, replace the valve. 

How to Bypass the Solenoid

Take the batteries out of the battery pack and remove the spade clips from the solenoid valve. Now take off the “electronics module” which is the black box in line. This is where it gets tricky. You now need to take the positive terminal of the battery to the negative terminal of the solenoid valve and the negative terminal of the battery to the positive terminal of the battery but only for a second. The faucet should now work in manual mode.

About the Author

Anthony Pacilla is a registered master plumber for McVehil Plumbing in Washington, Pennsylvania. He has 22 years of experience in the plumbing and HVAC trades, and has a bachelor’s in business and economics from Thiel College. 


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