Gicasa and Avola Faucets Review & Rating Updated: 02/10/23
Warranty Footnotes:1. In some places, the company claims a "no fee 5 yars replacement warranty" on its Avola faucets and "[l]ifetime limited support" of its Gicasa faucets. The duration stated in the "Warranty Card" that comes with the faucets is ten years.2. A warranty transfers to a subsequent owner of the faucet unless the warranty document explicitly prohibits its transfer. The Gicasa warranty is silent on the issue, making the warranty transferable.Download/Read/Print the Gicasa/Avola Warranty.Learn more about faucet warranties.
This Company In Brief
Guangdong Hongqi Furniture Co., Ltd. is a Chinese furniture manufacturer that sells faucets in the U.S. and Canada under the Gicasa and Avola brands.
It sells only through internet venues that host third-party sellers such as Amazon, and Walmart.
The faucets are of average quality and virtually indistinguishable from the hoard of Made-in-China faucets sold through internet venues in the U.S. and Canada.
Guangdong Hongqi Furniture Co., Ltd. was founded either in 2000, 2001, or 2004 (accounts vary) to manufacture home furnishings. It does manufacture wood furnishings, including some very fancy carved items suitable for Victorian decor.
It does not, however, and never has manufactured plumbing products. The faucets and accessories that it sells in the U.S. and Canada are manufactured by other companies. We have identified one of these manufacturers as Guangdong Goldkey Technology Co., Ltd.
The products are sold only on the internet through websites that host third-party sellers. The most prominent of these is Amazon. But, the company also sells through Walmart.
It sells its products in North America under two tradenames: Gicasa® and Avola®, both registered trademarks.
According to its U.S. trademark filing, its array of products includes
"Anti-splash tap nozzles; Bath installations; Drinking fountains; Faucets; Flush levers; Lamps; Microwave ovens; Radiators, electric; Sinks; Sterilizers; Wash basins being parts of sanitary installations; Water purification installations; Automatic flush valves for toilets; Baking ovens; Electric hand drying apparatus for washrooms; Refrigerating machines and installations"
In North America, however, it sells only kitchen faucets and sink accessories such as soap and lotion dispensers and drains. It does not sell bathroom faucets.
The company is not very keen on disclosing its actual identity. Amazon now requires owners of its storefronts to identify themselves in the storefront. Hongqi Furniture does so, but in phonetic Chinese which very few North Americans can read. Here is the company's identification as it appears on its Amazon storefronts:
Guang Dong Hong Qi Jia Ju You Xian Gong Si
Dong Cheng Qu Ke Ji Gong Ye Yuan Li
Dong Guan Shi
Guang Dong Sheng 523127 CN.
Here is the English translation:
Guangdong Hongqi Furniture Co., Ltd.
(or Guangdong Red Banner Furniture Co., Ltd.)
No. 6, Dongke Rd.
Guangdong 523127 China.
Gicasa's North American Facilities
The company has no functioning presence in North America. All of the details of its sales have been delegated to its hosting websites: warehousing, inventory, payment processing, and delivery.
After-sale support, what little there is of it, is handled from China using e-mails through Amazon – a not very satisfactory approach.
Hongqi hints at a U.S.-based subsidiary, Gicasa Home Co. Ltd.
This entity, however, is nothing more than an adopted trade name used to identify the Amazon storefronts for Gicasa products in Canada and the U.S.
It is possible to successfully market faucets in the U.S. without having a physical presence in the U.S. The German luxury faucet companies, manage it extremely well.
Their approach takes advantage of the fact that with smartphones and the Internet, physical proximity to a market is no longer necessary to sell in that market. To a plumber or homeowner located in Miami, Memphis, or Montreal, technical or customer support provided from Germany is just as useful as help from California or Connecticut.
But, to be successful, the time difference between customer and company must be overcome. In2aqua and Jörger have done so by ensuring that their technical and customer support is available during North American business hours. Hongqi Furniture Co. has not.
Support is through e-mail to China. The "Gicasa USA Customer Service Team" mentioned here and there in Hongqi Furniture literature is not located in the U.S.
Construction & Materials
The Gicasa and Avola faucets sold by Hongqi Furniture Co. in the U.S. are made from brass. Hongqi claims that the brass is lead-free, but there is no independent verification of this claim.
Brass is the preferred material for faucets for two reasons:
- Brass is strong, but easy to work with. It casts, forges, and machines with relative ease.
- Brass is naturally anti-microbial. The copper in brass kills bacteria, retarding the build-up of potentially hazardous microbes inside a faucet.
But, brass has one serious drawback. It may contain lead.
Traditional (alpha) brass is a blend of copper and zinc with a small amount of lead (1.5% - 3.5%) added to make the material more malleable, less brittle, and easier to fabricate.
Lead, however, is now all but banned in North America in any drinking water component due to its toxicity to humans, particularly children.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), lead, even in small amounts, causes slowed growth, learning disorders, hearing loss, anemia, hyperactivity, and behavior issues.
Before 2014, a faucet sold in the U.S. or Canada could contain as much as 8% lead and still call itself lead-free.
Now the maximum lead content of those parts of a faucet that touch water is 0.25% (1/4 of 1%), basically just a bare trace.In fact, there may be more lead in the air you breathe than there is in a faucet that has been certified lead-free.
Hongqi Furniture Co. claims that its brass faucets are made from lead-free brass sourced from Uzbekistan. However, its brass faucets have not been certified lead-free, so this claim has not been independently confirmed.
We do know, however, that Chinese faucet manufacturers tend to use much less expensive leaded brass in faucets made for their home market, and are not above exporting leaded brass faucets to North America.
Many dozens of these illegal, contraband faucets, including Gicasa and Avola faucets, can be found on Amazon alone.
See Lead in Chinese Faucets for more information on the use of lead in Chinese manufacturing.
To comply with the restrictions on lead, today's faucet brass replaces lead with other additives to reduce brittleness without adding toxicity. The most common is Bismuth.
Bismuth is similar to lead – right next to lead on the periodic table of elements – but it is not harmful to humans.
It is, however, very expensive. It is 300 times rarer than lead, even rarer than silver, which is the reason that Bismuth-brass alloys are considerably more expensive than leaded brass.
This increased cost has encouraged many faucet manufacturers to use substitute materials in their faucets where possible.
Zinc & Zinc/Aluminum Alloys
The more common substitute is zinc or a zinc-aluminum (ZA) alloy. One of the most common is called ZAMAK, a composition containing 4% aluminum.
Zinc is not as strong as brass and does not resist water pressure as well as brass. But, its use in non-pressurized parts of a brass faucet such as handles, base and wall plates, and is common even among manufacturers of luxury faucets.
It does no harm when used in these components, and may save consumers a few dollars.
Plastic is the other commonly used substitute material. It may be safely used in incidental parts like base plates and has been largely trouble-free in aerators and as casings for ceramic cartridges but otherwise, its use is suspect especially if under water pressure.
Among those suspect uses is its use in the spray heads of kitchen faucets. Plastic spray heads (called "wands" in the faucet industry) have become the standard for many manufacturers, including some that sell upscale faucets such as
Gicasa and Avola kitchen faucet sprays are plastic.
These manufacturers give three reasons for their use of plastic:
- Plastic does not get uncomfortably hot in use like metal wands;
- Plastic is not as heavy and is more comfortable to hold for long periods of time; and
- Plastic is a lot cheaper than brass or stainless steel – even cheaper than zinc.
However, plastic wands also fail much more often than metal wands. And although engineers have made significant improvements to their reliability over the past decade, the problem has not been entirely solved.
Better wands are made of metal, insulated against excessive heat transmittal.
The Sure Cure for Too-Hot Spray Wands: The simple cure for spray wands that get too hot is to reduce the temperature of the water. Dishes do not need to be rinsed in scalding hot water.
Faucet Design & Styling
Gicasa and Avola faucets are a mix of contemporary and traditional designs. The designs are conservative – fairly common designs, attractive enough but exhibiting no particular design originality.
The goal of Chinese faucet manufacturers is to sell as many faucets as possible, which means keeping their designs well within the mainstream to appeal to as many potential buyers as possible.
Although some Chinese manufacturers have begun producing original designs, some of which have won awards in international design competitions, Hongqi Furniture Co. is not one of those companies.
Designs are usually adopted from Europe and North America.
A style that sells well in these major markets will often be imitated by Asian factories (with minor changes to avoid patent infringement). The lag time is usually 3 to 5 years, so by the time a design appears in a Chinshy;ese faucet, it is no longer new.
Gicasa and Avola's faucet designs fit this pattern. They are pleasant and often smartly styled, but most are over a decade old, some are well past voting age, and a few are looking at their thirtieth anniversary in the rear-view mirror.
The critical components used in Gicasa and Avola faucets are ceramic valve cartridges and aerators.
The faucets we examined contained standard configuration ceramic cartridges made in China.
The Faucet Cartridge
Its cartridge is the heart of a modern faucet and should be your very first consideration when making a buying decision.
It is the component that controls water flow and temperature.
Its finish may fail and the faucet will still work. It may be discolored, corroded, and ugly but water still flows. If the cartridge fails, however, the faucet is no longer a faucet. It is out of business until the cartridge is replaced.
It's important, therefore, that the cartridge is robust, durable, and lasts for many years.
Dozens of Chinese companies manufacture ceramic valves, most of which do not export, so we never encounter them.
What we do know about the cartridges is that they are not one of the better cartridges like those manufactured by Kerox Kft or Sedal S.L.U. that have established a solid reputation for quality products and have been proven by having passed the North American life-cycle stress tests.
The standard North American life-cycle test requires operating a cartridge through 500,000 cycles under 60 psi of water pressure without a single failure. At one cycle per second, the test takes six 24-hour days to complete.
The cartridge is also subjected to a burst test under water pressure of 500 pounds per square inch – many times normal household water pressure of 40-60 psi. A cartridge that deforms in any manner under this enormous pressure fails the test and is not certified for use in the U.s. or Canada.
As neither Gicasa nor Avola faucets are certified, the likelyhood is that the cartridges have never been tested, so we have no idea how well they will stand up to used in a normal kitchen.
There are dozens of companies in China that manufacture and spray-head assembles. Most are a least adequate.
Faucet used to be simple devices that merely added a little air to soften the water stream so it would not splash out of the sink.
Today, however, they are also used to limit water volume to the lower flows required by federal and state water conservation laws, and in some cases, to prevent back-flow that can result in the contamination of household drinking water.
It is important, therefore, that this little device, often smaller than a dime, be the best available and that almost by definition is the Neoperl aerator.
The manufacturer or manufacturers of aerators and spray heads are not identified by Hongqi, and our examination of several aerators and spray heads did not disclose any markings on the devices that would allow us to determine where they are made. All we can say is that in testing they modified the stream of water just as they are supposed to so it did not splash out of the sink. We do not know how resistant they are to mineral accumulation that causes clogging or how long they will last in ordinary household use.
We asked Hongqi for information about its aerators, but have not received a reply from the company.
Gicasa & Avola Faucet Finishes
Gicasa and Avola offers four finishes on its fuacets: Black, Brushed Nickel, Brushed Gold, and Copper. The most popular faucet finish, polished chrome, is not available.
Some Avola faucets are available in in which a base finish is paired with an accent finish. Split finishes include Black with Brushed Gold and Black with Copper.
Of the four finishes. Brushed Nickel is electroplated. Black is a powder coating. Gold and Copper may be a powder coating, but also could be a physical vapor deposition (PVD) finish.
involves immersing the faucet and the metal to be used as plating in an acid bath, then applying an electrical charge to both objects so metallic ions are drawn from the plating metal to the faucet.
Usually, multiple coats are applied, one or more undercoats and then two or more coats of the finish metal.
The process is potentially hazardous to the operator and the environment. It involves toxic and corrosive chemicals that must be disposed of safely. No other coating technology even comes close to the dangers involved in electroplating.
The top coat may be polished or brushed. Chrome, a relatively hard metal, is usually polished to a high shine. Nickel, a aofter metal, is usually brushed to help hide the minor scratches that are inevitable.
Physical Vapor Deposition
or PVD is one of the latest space-age faucet finishing technology, rapidly replacing electroplating as the finish of choice.
Although the technology was discovered in the 19th century, it was not used in industry until the 1950s and then only rarely due to its great expense. Its first use was in nuclear reactors. Today, technology is everywhere and the machinery required is getting smaller, faster, and cheaper all the time.
The process itself mixes art with science.
Load a chamber with unfinished faucet components, remove all the air and add back a carefully calculated mix of nitrogen or argon and reactive gases.
Add a rod of the metal to be used for the coating. Heat that rod to a temperature so high that the metal dissolves into individual atoms. The atoms mix with the various reactive gases to get the color and finish effects you want and are then deposited in a very thin layer – 2 to 5 microns – on the faucets.
A micron is one millionth of a meter or 1/26,000 of an inch. The average human hair is 83 microns thick. The smallest the human eye with excellent vision can see without magnification is about 5 microns.
Despite being just microns thick, a PVD coating is extremely dense and, in consequence, very hard and durable. By some estimates, it is up to 20 times more scratch-resistant than electroplated chrome.
From long experience, we know that PVD is nearly impossible to accidentally scratch or mar, never fades or changes color, and resists all forms of soiling.
A PVD finish can usually be maintained with just an occasional wipe from a damp cloth to remove water spots.
is usually described as
semi-durable, not as robust as electroplated or PVD finishes, about as durable as the finish on your car, and requiring more care to maintain a like-new appearance.
It is essentially a dry paint in powder form applied using a special low-velocity spray gun that disperses the powder while giving it a positive electrical charge. The particles are drawn to the item to be finished which has been given a negative charge.
Once the powder is applied, the item being coated is baked in an oven which melts and bonds the powder and changes the structure of the coating into long, cross-linked molecular chains.
These chains are what give the coating its durability, reducing the risk of scratches, chipping, abrasions, corrosion, fading, and other wear issues.
Finish Care Instructions: Always read and follow the faucet seller's care instructions. Careful cleaning and maintenance not only preserve the good looks of your faucet but also your finish warranty.
Gicasa & Avola Faucet Warranty
Hongqi Furniture Co. offers a written warranty on its faucets. It is variously stated as a three, five, or ten-year warramty. Most of the faucets we examined had a Warranty Card in the box which proveded a ten-year warranty.
U.S. law requires consumer product warranties to be in writing and to specifically set out its terms and conditions in plain and simple languare.
The Gicasa warranty is in writing, but violates a number of the requirements of the federal law that controls the form and content of consumer product warranties, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (15 U.S.C. §2308).
The first and most serior problem is its caption which reads "Warranty Card." This caption makes the warranty a full rather than the more common limited warranty.
To be a limited warranty, a warranty must contain clearly
designate the warranty as a limited warranty in its caption with the magic words "limited" and "warranty" in its caption or title.
The words can be arranged to make a variety of acceptable captions: "Limited Warranty", "Limited Faucet Warranty", "Limited Lifetime Warranty", "Gicasa Limited Warranty", and so on. The caption must be conspicuous and "clearly separated from the text of the warranty." So long as the words "limited" and "warranty" are included, it gives fair warning to the buyer that its protection is intended to provide less than full warranty protection.
Unfortunately, the Gicasa warranty is captioned "Warranty Card". The word "limited" is nowhere to be found. The missing "limited" in its caption automatically converts the warranty to a full warranty. (15 U.S.C. §2303(a), 16 CFR §700.6)
A full warranty gives a buyer many more rights, voiding many of the restrictions and limitations written into the Gicasa warranty.Here are the most obvious errors.
- A warranty much explain what Gicasa will do to remedy a defect under warranty. (16 CFR § 701.3(a)(3)). The Gicasa warranty states it will repair any defect "freely," By "freely" the company undoubtedly means "no cost" to the consumer, but the warranty does not explain what is involved in getting a free repair: send the faucet to China, call a plumber to make the repairs in the consumer's home, and so on. And, if the faucet has to be returned to the company, who pays for shipping?
- Gicasa tries to exclude any labor costs to "to repair, replace, or remove the [faucet]" from warranty coverage. However, a faucet falls into the category of a product that "has utility only when installed" and the company must, therefore, under a full warranty, pay for the labor to remove, repair, and reinstall the faucet. 16 CFR §700.9.
- The warranty must provide "A step-by-step explanation of the procedure which the consumer should follow" to make a claim under the warranty including the mailing address or telephone number to use. (16 CFR § 701.3(a)(5)). The Gicasa warranty gives no instructions on how to make a claim.
- A warranty must include the following statement, required to be in every consumer warranty: (16 CFR § 701.3(9))
"This warranty gives you specific legal rights, and you may also have other rights which vary from State to State"
Clearly Hongqi should revisit its warranty to comply with U.S. law if it intends to continue to sell faucets in the United States.
Download/Read/Print the Gicasa/Avola Warranty.
Gicasa & Avola Customer Service
Hongqi has no presence in North America and that lack of presence includes the absence of a North American-based customer service. Customer service for Gicasa and Avola products is through emails to the Gicasa USA Service Team at firstname.lastname@example.org. As was noted earlier in this report, the USA team is not in the U.S. It is in China.
You can't just call a toll-free number and get something done. You have to email then wait for a response.
Due at least in part to the time difference (China is between 13-16 hours ahead of the U.S.), it typically takes a minimum of 6-9 hours to get a reply, and often as long as 48 hours. If your Gicasa and Avola faucet is malfunctioning and you need replacement parts, that is far too long.
There is also the language barrier. Hongqi's customer agents probably speak far better English than you do Mandarin, but English is not their first language, so communication can be slow and difficult with lots of questions and more questions, and explanation after explanation until some sort of understanding is achieved.
We rate the company's customer support as unsatisfactory.
Gicasa and Avola Websites
Hongqi has a colorful a Chinese-language website that is totally devoted to the furnishings it manufactures. It never even mentions faucets.
The closest either brand comes to a North American website is their two Amazon storefronts. These do not, however, provide nearly enough information about the faucets sold by the company to permit an informed buying decision.
The best place to get the information needed to make an informed buying decision is the listing for the individual faucets.
The listing typically includes the faucet's dimensions (often in metric rather than inches), flow rate, primary material (Brass or Stainless steel, and often secondary material,) and so on, but you have to scroll far down in the listing to the section headed "Technical Detils." The intervening area is filled with illustrations that are, however, worth examining for additional nuggets of hard data.
Many of the specifications important to an informed faucet buying decision are missing. Among the most critical are:
Faucet Valve:No information is provided about a faucet's valve other than the fact that it is a ceramic cartridge. In addition to this basic notice, the name of the cartridge manufacturer is needed. There are good ceramic cartridges and not-so-good ceramic cartridges. To make an informed buying decision the buyer needs to know the actual manufacturer. Otherwise, there is no way to judge the quality of the cartridge.
Type of Finish:The type of finish is not disclosed. Type of finish (electroplated, powder coating, PVD, etc.) is important to the long-term durability of the finish and the type and amount of care and maintenance required.
Warranty:Gicasa claims to provide a 3- to 5-year limited warranty on faucets but the actual warranty document is nowhere to be found. U.S. law requires a consumer product warranty to be in writing and made available to the buyer
prior tothe sale of the product.
- For faucets sold only online, this means the warranty must be part of the online faucet listing. If not then a conspicuous link to the warranty must be provided from every place on the internet the faucet is sold. Gicasa does not comply with either requirement.
Gicasa & Avola Testing & Certification
Faucets made in Asia comparable to Gicasa and Avola in quality with the same or a better warranty, but not necessarily comparable for design or price, include
There is absolutely no reason to buy a Gicasa or Avola faucet. The selleer has ingored almost every law and regulation that apply to the sale of faucets in North America.
- The faucets are not tested and certified compliant with joint U.S./Canadian standards of reliability, durability, and safety as required by the law in both Canada and the U.S. Consequently, the presence of toxic substances in the faucets such as lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury has not been excluded. Because these faucets are made in China where the use of lead in faucets is not regulated, the risk of lead contamination is even greater than usual.
- The faucets are not identified as Made in China as required by law.
- Owners of Gicasa and Avola faucets are not protected against defects by a written warranty enforceable in U.S. and Canadian courts.
- The only source of replacement parts is 7,000 miles away, assuming the parts are available at all.
The prices on Gicasa and Avola faucets make them attractive, but, as the list above demonstrates, a great many other companies sell Chinese-made faucets for about the same price that are fully certified, legal to use in a drinking water system, and backed by a written warranty of some kind. Many are guaranteed for the lifetime of the buyer.
Neither Gicasa nor Avola faucets cannot be legally installed in a public or private drinking water system anywhere in the U.S. or Canada. A plumber probably will not install one for you, and if you do it yourself you risk, at the very least, having to replace the faucet with a legal product and the possibility in some jurisdictions of a fine and some jail time.
We are continuing to research the company. If you have experience with Gicasa and Avola faucets, good, bad or indifferent, we would like to hear about it, so please contact us or post a comment below.