Pioneer Faucets Olympia • Central Brass
Review & Rating
Updated: 01/23/23

Summary
Imported
Taiwan Flag
Taiwan
Pioneer Industries, Inc.
3325 S. Garfield, Ave.
City of Commerce, CA 90040
(800) 338-9468
info@pioneerind.com
sales@olympiafaucets.com
Rating
Business Type
Product Range
Kitchen, Bath, Prep, and Bar Faucets
Certifications
Street Price
$24 - $650
Warranty Score
Cartridge
lifetime1
Finishes
Lifetime
Electronics
1 Year
Mechanical Parts
Lifetime
Proof of Purchase
Required
Transferable
No
Meets U.S. Warranty
Law Requirements
Yes

Warranty Footnotes

1. "[A]s long as the original purchaser owns [the fau­cet]". (For commecial or multi-family use, 10 years.)

Download/Read/Print
• Pioneer fau­cet warranty,
• Olympia fau­cet warranty,
• Central Brass fau­cet warranty.
• Current fau­cet warranty.
Learn more about faucet warranties.

This Company In Brief

Pioneer Industries, Olympia Faucets, and Central Brass are three separate faucet companies that operate as a single entity, sharing management, location, customer service, and website.

Olympia offers builder-grade faucets, solid and substantial but conservative in style and design.

Pioneer is the enterprise's premium brand, intended to appeal to those looking for a more stylish faucet but one that is still reliable.

Central Brass sells commercial faucets used primarily in restaurants and institutional kitchens and baths.

Our reviewers were very impressed by the quality of these faucets.

If you are in the market for a reliable, reasonably priced faucet with a lifetime warranty and very good customer service from an enterprise that has been in business for a long while, you would be hard-pressed to find a better faucet value.

Pioneer manufactures its own faucets at a sister company located in Taiwan, and unlike a great many Asian-made faucets, all of Pioneer's faucets are lead-free and safe to use in the home.

Frank Kee-Suo Chen owns Pion­eer Industries, Inc., Olymp­ia Fau­cets, Inc., and Pion­eer Com­merc­ial Manu­fact­uring, Inc. – all of which import and sell faucets.

Depending on the company, it may also sell showers and bath accessories that are nicely coordinated with its faucets.

Its primary markets for Olympia and Central Brass faucets are institutional kitchen and baths, multi-family housing, and builders – customers who are looking for durable, well-supported, stylish but inexpensive faucets.

The more stylish Pioneer faucets target the homeowner market.

Pioneer Manufacturing

Import businesses like Pion­eer are often trans-Pacific affairs.

One part of the organization, located in the old country, handles the manufacturing, purchasing, and export end of the business, while another group located in North America, takes care of the importing, distributing, and selling.

This is how Pioneer operates.

The big difference between Pion­eer and most other Asian importers, however, is that Pion­eer makes its own faucets. Other importers such as buy faucets from third parties.

Pion­eer, Olymp­ia, and Cent­ral Brass faucets are manufactured by the fourth menber of the team, , founded in 1995.

Crescent is located in the heart of the Taiwanese bathroom and kitchen fittings industry in the Changhua county, home, by some estimates, to over 100 faucet and fittings manufactuers.

It is not a mere , putting together components manufactured by others. It casts, machines, finishes, polishes, assembles, and packages its own fau­cets in its own factory.

Crescent controls everything about its manufacturing process from the composition of the raw brass used in its faucets to the shape of the box in which the final product is packaged. The ability to quality control every step of the process from casting and forging on down is one reason there are so few failures in the faucets.

Cres­cent Plumb­ing does not manufacture just for Pion­eer In­dust­ries, however. It also supplies

Origins & History

Each of the three U.S.-based fau­cet companies that make up the North Amer­ican arm of the Pioneer organization has its own history.

This Olym­pia L609 single hole lavatory fau­cet is brushed nickel (above) is also sold as the Pioneer L-609 shown below in polished chrome.

Pioneer Industries

Organized as an Cal­i­forn­ia corporation in 1995, Pio­neer In­dus­tries was one of the earliest of the Asia-im­port­ers, an actual pioneer in the trans-Pac­ific fau­cet trade, in good company with the likes of all of which started in business at about the same time.

Mr. Chen, one of the founders of Crescent Plumbing, had foreseen that the success of the Taiwanese manufacturer largely depended on its ability to develop overseas markets, and the biggest single market for decorative plumbing fittings was the U.S. and Canada, together a larger market than the entire European Union.

Pioneer's objective was to create a North American distribution network for Crescent Plumbing products.

The company was fortunate enough to have two market trends on its side.

Taiwan's brass industry had become, almost by default, the world's discount fau­cet producer by the 1990s.

By 2006 Pioneer Industries was healthy enough financially to be able to purchase the assets of the defunct Central Brass Manufacturing out of bankruptcy.

Central Brass Manufacturing

Cen­tral Brass Man­u­fac­tur­ing Co. was an old and well-established manufacturer of commercial and industrial faucets, an entirely new business segment for Pion­eer and its acquisition was a fairly substantial, if calculated, risk.

To minimize the risk, however, the assets of Central Brass were not incorporated into the fledgling Pioneer Industries. Instead, a new company, Pion­eer Com­mer­ci­al Man­u­fact­ur­ing, Inc. [1] was formed to conduct this new venture.

Manufacturing was transferred to Taiwan and taken over by Crescent Plumbing almost before the ink dried on the sales agreement. The former Central Brass factory in Cleveland, Ohio was shuttered and abandoned.

Central Brass is legally Pion­eer Com­mer­ci­al Man­u­fact­ur­ing, Inc.. But, it rarely refers to itself by that name. It trades as Central Brass® or Cent­ral Brass Comp­any and sometimes Cent­ral Brass Man­u­fact­ur­ing.

The headquarters of the new Central Brass, initially kept in Cleve­land, Ohio, was eventually moved to City of Com­merce, to join the rest of the enterprise in sunny California.

Olympia Faucets, Inc.

Olympia Faucets, Inc., the newest of the trio of Chen companies in North America, was organized as a California corporation in 2008 to take over Pioneer's line of builder-grade faucets, and begin the process of divorcing the company's premium from its builder lines.

Pioneer spun off its Deco and Builder series of kitchen and bath fixtures for the residential builder market to the new corporation, where they were renamed the Accent and Elite series.

All three companies are managed as a single enterprise sharing management, location, customer service, and website.

The Pioneer Website

The Pion­eer website was completely re­written in 2016, in part to merge its three product lines into one website and eliminate the separate Central Brass site. It is well designed with intuitive navigation throughout and is responsive to any size viewscreen from smartphone to desktop monitor.

Its search function is powerful. It will find any product by name, model, or description. It is particularly useful in identifying all of the products available in a particular finish.

A search on "black", for example, located every fau­cet, pot filler, shower, drain, overflow, air gap, towel bar, robe hook, towel ring, tub spout, and tub filler available in the company's Matte Black finish, and not a single item that was not.

The information provided about each fau­cet is, for the most part, comprehensive and detailed, including installation instructions, specifications, certifications, an exploded parts diagram, and the finishes available.

It is a model for other companies to follow.

Some of the information is in a fau­cet's listing but much more detail is in downloadable .pdf files.

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We found two issues with the site:

1. Ceramic cartridges are not identified by manufacturer. Knowing the manufacturer is the key to determining whether or not the cartridge is a good cartridge that will give years of leak-free service or a not-so-good cartridge that will not. As the company uses cartridges from companies with good reputations, it should not be averse to identifying their source.

2. Inadequate Warranty Link. The U.S. Mag­nu­son-Moss War­ranty Act requires product warranties to be made available to a buyer before a sale. For sellers over the internet, this means a direct and conspicuous link to the applicable warranty from the faucet's listing. Pioneer's "Warranty Information" link is not to one of the Pion­eer's three faucet warranties but to a general support page.

Pioneer Faucet Finishes

Nine finishes are available on Pioneer faucets, fewer on Olympia faucets, just one on Central Brass products.

The basic finish available on all faucets is Polished Chrome. For Central Brass faucets, chrome is the only finish, Most faucets in the Olympia line are also available in Brushed Nickel, and Oil-Rubbed Bronze (ORB) [2] as standard finishes.

Pioneer offers four additional standard finishes: Brushed Gold, Matte Black, Moroccan Bronze, and Stainless Steel

Not every faucet is available in every finish, but the available finishes for each faucet are clearly identified on the website and in product catalogs.

Any finish other than chrome will add to the price of the faucet.

The chrome finishes on the Pioneer faucets we examined were impeccable, the chrome so highly polished that we could be lured into thinking we were looking at a high-end faucet selling for three times the price.

Brushed Nickel, Brushed Gold, and Stainless Steel are the very durable (PVD) finishes.

Finish Durability

Some finishes are more durable than others.

Some, the so-called , are expected to fade, discolor, and otherwise show the effect of use and wear over time. These results are built into the finish.

Other types of finishes, however, are expected to be more durable. They are not expected to fade, discolor, or show undue wear.

Here are common types of faucet finishes and their durability from most to least durable.


For more information about faucet finishes, including their durability and longevity, see Faucet Basics: Part 5 Faucet Finishes.

PVD finishes are not usually made of the metal they represent but a less reactive metal that is altered in the PVD process to look like the metal it imitates.

PVD Stainless Steel, for example, might actually be zir­co­ni­um, a very hard, low-reactive metal. Unlike stainless steel, zir­co­ni­um does not readily show fingerprints and is almost impossible to scratch. It is much easier to maintain than actual stainless steel.

PVD gold can be created using a ti­ta­ni­um alloy as the coating metal in a chamber filled with nitrogen gas. A little methane may be added for a slightly rosier gold or a pinch of acetylene for a darker antique gold.

The PVD process results in a very hard (Rockwell HRC-80+, Vicker HV-2600+) finish,10-20 times more scratch-resistant than plated chrome (according to some sources and depending on the source), and so resistant to staining and corrosion that they can easily withstand even very harsh household chemicals, and (for you seaside dwellers) salt-laden air.

Finish Display: One neat feature of the Pioneer website is that rolling the mouse pointer over a finish icon will redisplay the related faucet image in that finish. A very nice touch that makes visualing a faucet in a particular finish much easier.

Harsh chemical cleaners are never needed to maintain a PVD finish's good looks. Dry buffing with a soft cloth is usually sufficient. In extremis, washing with a mild detergent (Dawn® is our preference) to remove surface soiling and water spots is all the maintenance that is ever required.

A powder coat 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.

The material really is a powder, similar to baking flour, sold by the pound in over 65,000 different colors which can be blended to produce a virtually unlimited rainbow of hues and tones.

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.

Powder coating is less dur­able than the other common finish technologies: electroplating and (PVD) but also considerably less burdensome to the environment.

The disadvantage of powder coatings is that they must be applied in relatively thick coats to avoid defects like orange peel – a mottled, uneven surface. The thickness can obscure fine detail and make the coating more susceptible to chipping.

For more information on the types of fau­cet finishes and advantages and drawbacks of each type, see Faucet Finishes.

Pioneer's (PC) finishes are Matte Black, Moroccan Bronze, and Oil-Rubbed-Bronze.

Powder coatings are not nearly as durable as PVD. They are paints in powder form.

Powdered pigments are sprayed onto the faucet using electrostatic attraction to evenly coat the faucet, then baked at about 400°F (205°C) to set the coating. This causes the powder particles to melt, flow together, cross-link, and bind to the metal of the faucet.

The result is a finish that is much more durable than most liquid paints, more durable even than the paint on your car but not nearly as robust as PVD or electroplated metal finishes.

The coatings will chip and scratch with rough handling, and change color in contact with many household cleaning products. Such damage is never covered under warranty.

Powder coatings are falling out of favor as PVD is coaxed by engineers and materials chemists into reliably producing the colors and finish effects that were once available only as powder coats.

But, the most likely replacement, in the long run, is thin film ceramic (TFC). TFC is a coating that has all the simplicity of powder coatings but produces a rugged finish that has the imperviousness of PVD.

Thin Film Ceramic Coatings

Relatively fragile powder coatings are falling out of favor in the fau­cet industry as PVD is coaxed by engineers and materials chemists into reliably producing the colors and finish effects that were once available only as powder coats.

Also promising is a new type of liquid paint called thin film ceramic (TFC) which is making inroads into the fau­cet industry.

Initially used to protect hard-use items like fire­arms and military field equipment, TFC has begun appearing on fau­cets (see ).

Its advantage over powder coatings is its microscopic ceramic particles. Em­bed­ded in the material, these nano-ceramics make it nearly as resistant to scratches and other environmental hazards as PVD coatings, and by some accounts, even more resistant.

Its advantage over PVD is that it does not require a large upfront investment in specialized equipment that may cost upwards of $100,000 to produce a super-durable finish.

It needs only a standard spray booth and a low-temperature industrial oven to cure the paint – equipment that most coatings applicators already own.

Complex, multi-layered finishes are still the province of powder coatings, however, and may be for some time yet. But all of Pioneer's color coatings are simple mono-color finishes for which TFC would be the ideal alternative. At least one innovative faucet company, is already using the process to produce its color finishes.

Hydrophobic & Oleophobic Coatings

Pioneer's stainless steel finishes are given a final coating to combat water spots and fingerprints. Pioneer calls this its "spot-resist" finish.

These are what are known as They are formulated at the molecular level to shed water. Because water does not stock, it does not dry on the faucet leaving what are called waterspots. Many are also They repel oil such as the oil on your fingers which makes them fingerprint-resistant.

Typically these coatings are very thin, as thin as 2-4 , so thin that they do not obscure the finish under the coating or change its appearance.

Faucet Finishes:
To learn more about protective finishes on faucets including the technologies used to produce the finishes, their limitations, durability, and care requirements, see Faucet Finishes.

Construction & Materials

Pioneer, Olympia, and Central Brass fau­cets are constructed conventionally. The body and spout of the fau­cets, as well as being decorative, are the components that channel water within the fau­cet.

The faucets we examined were of good to very good quality – heavy cast brass with well-machined surfaces.

Brass

The primary material from which the fau­cets are made is brass.

Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc. It is the preferred material for faucets for two reasons:

But, brass has one serious drawback: ordinary (alpha) brass contains up to 3.5% lead. Lead makes the material more malleable, less brittle, and easier to machine.

Why Not Make Faucets Out of Zinc?

Why not indeed? In fact, many faucets are already made of zinc/aluminum (ZA) alloys.

Zinc is not as strong as brass and has no anti-microbial properties. Brass will kill any micro-critter that comes in contact with it. Zinc ignores them.

Still, as unleaded brass becomes ever more expensive, some faucet companies are turning to ZA as their primary faucet material.

ZA is relatively easy to cast, forge, and machine and takes finishes very well – often better than brass. Zinc is oten used as an undercoat on brass faucets before they are give a top coat of chrome.

Its weaknesses compared to brass can be overcome by careful design and making the metal a little thicker or by using what is called core and shell construction in which the body and spout of a faucet is just a decorative shell concealing the copper tubes inside that are the actual waterways.

Companies that are replacing brass with ZA include Delta Faucet Company whose faucets that are already 100% ZA.

Lead, however, is toxic to humans, prtucularly children, and is now all but banned in North Amer­ica for use in any household water component.

According to the En­vir­on­ment­al Prot­ec­tion Agen­cy (EPA), lead, even in small amounts, causes slowed growth, learning disorders, hearing loss, anemia, hyperactivity, and behavior issues.[3]

To comply with the restrictions on lead, lead in today's faucet brass is replaced by 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 rare, 300 times rarer than lead, even rarer than silver, which is the reason that bismuth-brass alloys are considerably more expensive than leaded brass.

Zinc Alloy

Its high cost has compelled faucet manufacturers to limit the use of lead-free brass in faucets to only those parts that touch water, primarily the body and spout.

Parts of a faucet not in the water stream and, therefore, not under pressure, are often made from a zinc-aluminum (ZA) alloy. We have not analysed the faucets to determine the exact alloy used in the Pioneer group's faucets, but suspect it is probably the most common faucet alloy, , a composition containing 4% aluminum.

Zinc is a good choice as a secondary metal for faucets. It does not rust, takes finishes very well – often better than brass – and casts, forges and machines with relative ease.

Pioneer group faucets use ZAMAK for the non-pressurized parts of a brass fau­cet such as handles, base, and wall plates. The comany's faucet listing on its website usually identify the parts made of zinc.

Plastic

Plastic is another matter entirely. It has found a home in some faucet cartridges and where it seems to work well enough. It is also suitable as base plates, although not a desirable as ZAMAK. In pressurized parts of a faucet, it is highly suspect.

One of its most suspect uses is in kitchen faucet spray yeads (the industry term is "wands").

Unfortunately, many faucet manufacturers, even upscale companies like have switched from metal to plastic wands.

Metal wands can get uncomfortably warm in use with hot water, plastic does not, and it is also a lot less expensive than either brass or zinc.

The downside is that plastic spray heads seem to cause a lot of problems resulting in more than their fair share of warranty claims.

Sure Cure for the Too-Hot Spray Head

Nothing in a kitchen needs to be rinsed in scalding hot water. Keep the water temperature somewhat more moderate to avoid the too-hot spray head. Simple, eh?
Thermometer

Set your hot water at 125° F (52° C) to prevent scalding. It's probably set at 140° F (60° C) – the factory setting – which is dangerously hot.

Any setting below 120°, however, risks the buildup of bacteria in your hot water tank, including the legionella bacillus that causes Le­gionn­aire's Dis­ease, something you definitely do not want in your household water.

Metal wands have to be insulated to protect against heat but, overall, give more reliable service and are to be preferred.

All sprayers in Pion­eer and Olymp­ia kitchen faucets, whether pull-down, pull-out, or side spray are plastic.

However, as the wands are supported by the same lifetime warranty as the rest of the company's faucet components, we are prepared to give the wands the benefit of the doubt. If Pioneer believes its wands are lifetime products, then so do we (provisionally).

Olympia Faucets

We did not find any qualitative difference between the company's Pioneer faucets and its builder-grade Olympia brand. In fact, we found that some faucets appear in both lines.

We cannot say for certain, however, whether this is true beyond the faucets we examined but we were impressed by the quality of Olympia faucets, especially as one retailed for under $29.00 USD ($36.00 CAD) (in chrome). This was no lightweight faucet, full of plastic. It was hefty enough to use as a hammer. (Not recommended, however!)

Pioneer Valves & Cartridges

The valves used in Pion­eer and Olymp­ia fau­cets are ceramic valve cartridges in which the water control element is a pair of nearly indestructible ceramic discs. Central Brass faucets are fitted with quarter-turn compression valves.

Pioneer Valves & Cartridges

Ceramic Valve Cartridges

Ceramic is the newer technology, invented by in the `970s, and the usual preference for home kitchens and baths because it requires no routine maintenance.

We were able to identify the sources of the company's Ceramic mixing cartridges used in single-handle faucets as Hain Yo En­ter­prises Co., Ltd. and Ku­ching In­ter­na­tion­al Ltd. which sells under the KCG brand. Both companies are located in Taiwan.

The companies are well-known to North American faucet sellers.

Hain Yo supplies ceramic cartridges to

The cartridges do not have the reputation for leak-free durability of the better-known Tai­wan­ese cartridges such as those from Ge­ann In­dust­ri­al.

They are, however, good enough. We expect them to last 10-15 years before they will need replacing, which is an easy DIY taks for anyone familiar with basic household tools.

Pion­eer guarantees the cartridges for a lifetime warranty against leaking. If the company thinks the cartridges will last a lifetime without a problem – and backs its thinking with its warranty dollars – then we are inclined to believe that they will indeed last a lifetime.

However, keep in mind that the warranty applies only to leaks resulting from material or manufacturng defects. Every moving part of a faucet wears out over time, and that includes cartridge valves. Leaking from ordinary wear and tear is not considered a defect and is not included in warranty coverage.

Replacement Cartridges

Both Hain Yo and KCG cartridges are standard configuration cartridges based on designs developed in the 1980s by by Galatron Plast S.p.a., an Italian technical ceramics company. A great many ceramics companies manufacture the same cartridges and replacements are available just about anywhere replacement faucet components are sold.

Compression Valves

The Quick-Pression quarter-turn compression valve used in Central Brass faucets is the modern incarnation of a much older valve technology invented by Guest & Chrimes, a British foundry in 1845.

Control of water flow relies on rubber (usually nitrile or silicone) washers rather than the much more durable ceramic discs, and the rubber wears out much faster than ceramics, requiring periodic replacement.

An Old Plumber's Trick

Here's an old plumber's trick that we learned years ago from an old plumber that can save all the wondering where you put the receipt for your faucet 15 years ago when you bought it:

Put the paperwork for your faucet, sink, disposer, hot water dispenser, etc., including receipts, installation instructions, user manuals, your plumber's business care, and warranties, along with any leftover hardware and special tools, in a plastic bag. Tape it to the inside of the sink cabinet under the sink.

Even if you forget where it is, your plumber will find it when he or she starts work on the faucet.

Central Brass faucets are intended primarily for commercial applications for which compression valves have long been and still are the first and best choice.

The ease of replacing the washer in a compression valve usually outweighs the nuisance of having to replace it fairly often.

Kelly's Irish Catfish & Steak Shack or a busy Mc­don­ald's cannot close the kitchen for a day waiting for a replacement ceramic cartridge to arrive overnight by FedEx.

It needs to be able to get a non-functioning faucet working right now, and replacing the compression washer – which typically takes about 10 minutes using parts tucked in every plumber's toolbox – usually does the trick.

We certainly do not discount the Quick-Pression quarter-turn compression valve for home use.

It's a tough, rugged valve, battle-tested in busy commercial kitchens for more than a century, and a proven performer under some very harsh and demanding conditions.

If you don't mind a little routine maintenance every year or two, replacing a worn washer takes very little skill and common household tools – nothing exotic or expensive – and about 15 minutes.

If you can handle a screwdriver and wrench without endangering yourself or others, you are a candidate for compression cartridge ownership.

Replacement washers are available at any hardware store. If the seat needs replacing, there are repair kits for that from Central Brass and third-party parts suppliers like Danco that include a seat wrench (if needed) and detailed how-to instructions.

If you keep on top of the maintenance, The faucet will last a long, long time – by "long, long" we mean your great-great-grand­child­ren's grand-child­ren will probably be on Social Security (or Old Age Security) when the faucet finally fails.

We regularly maintain compression valves that were first installed well over a century ago and, like the Duracell® Bunny, are still going and going, and...

However, if the minor nuisance of replacing seat washers every few years is just not your style, ceramic cartridges are available as an option in Central Brass fau­cets for home use, but you have to specifically ask for the ceramic cartridge.

See how easy it is to replace a seat washer in this video.

To learn more about faucet valves and cartridges including their history and the advantages and disadvantages of each type, go to Faucet Basics, Part 2: Faucet Valves & Cartridges.

Pioneer Faucet Styles

Most Pioneer faucets are stylish – not the cutting-edge designs favored by the design-glitterati, but stylish enough for us regular folks. It certainly won't embarrass you to have one in your kicthen or bath.

A couple are striking designs that we have not seen elsewhere (for example the Estate faucet pictured above – a top-of-the-line Pioneer kitchen faucet).

The fau­cet designs are conservative – fairly common Asian styles, attractive enough but exhibiting no particular design distinction. Similar designs can be found in the inventories of most Chin­ese and Tai­wan­ese fau­cet manufacturers of mid-priced faucets.

The goal of Asian 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 manufacturers have begun producing original designs, some of which have won awards in international design competitions, Crescent Plumbing is not one of those companies.

Designs are typically copied 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 Asian fau­cet, it is no longer new.

Buying Rule for
Smart Faucet Buyers

Valve Cartridge

Never buy a fau­cet until you know the type of cartridge used in the fau­cet and who made it.

Its cartridge is the most critical part of a fau­cet. It is the component that actually controls water flow. Without a working cartridge, a fau­cet is no longer a fau­cet.

Companies that use good-quality cartridges in their fau­cets usually disclose the cartridge source on their websites. Those that don't will happily identify the cartridge in a call to customer service.

If the company refuses to reveal the sources of its cartridges (because it is a "trade secret"), you can confidently assume it is not one of the better brands.


For more information about fau­cet valves and cartridges and the companies that make cartridges known to be reliable, see Faucet Valves & Cartridges.

Pioneer's fau­cet designs fit this pattern. They are pleasant and often smartly styled, but most are several decades old.

Olympia faucets, as befits a builder line, tend to be even more conservative in style but also less expensive with no obvious sacrifice of quality.

Learn more about fau­cet design and configuration at Faucet Basics, Part 4: Style and Configuration.

Central Brass faucets are not at all stylish and are not intended to be stylish.

They are functional, hea­vy-du­ty, institutional fau­cets and do not pretend to be anything but functional, hea­vy-du­ty, institutional faucets.

Pioneer Faucet Warranties

The warranty on all three brands of Pioneer faucets in residential use is for the "lifetime" of the buyer, meaning

"as long as the original consumer purchaser owns it"

and includes all

"defects in material and workmanship."

Finishes are included in the lifetime warranty, but only for residential use.[4]

The warranty does not specifically mention cartridge replacement but a company spokesman assured us that a leaking ceramic cartridge indicates a "defect in material and workmanship" and will be replaced under warranty free of charge for the lifetime of the original buyer.

The Pioneer warranties are a model for other faucet companies to follow. They are very well written in the "clear and simple" language required by the Mag­nu­son-Moss War­ranty Act (15 U.S.C. §2308) (the federal law that dictates the minimum content of and sets the rules for consumer product warranties in the United States). [5]

The warranties have just two flaws, neither of them fatal.

The first is an illegal tie-in provision in the Central Brass warranty:

"Use of non-genuine Central Brass Parts will consequently void this warranty." [6]

Warranty provisions requiring the use of parts "identified by brand, trade, or corporate name" are prohibited by Mag­nu­son-Moss (15 U.S.C. § 2302(c)). In consequence, this provision will not be enforced by any U.S. court.

Second, all of the warranties are "void" for

" misuse, abuse, accident, or improper installation"

The word "void" is a problem.

If you accidently damage your Pion­eer faucet, the damage is not covered by warranty. Why? Because the damage was not caused by a "defect in material and workmanship.". It was the result of the accident.

But, not only is the damage not covered, the entire warranty is voided, ended, over, gone forever, kaput. That's what "void" means.

Rather than voiding the entire warranty, the warranty should simply provide that damage caused by these events is not covered – a much less draconian remedy, and probably what Pioneer actually intended to say.

The word "void" is much overused in product warranties. Too often warranty writers, even experienced lawyers, use "void" when they mean "not covered." The two terms are not synonymous and cannot be used interchangeably. They have very different legal results.

Pioneer Customer Service

Customer service is cordial, prompt, and responsive. However, agents had to refer our questions to a technical expert several times, suggesting that customer service representatives may not be as familiar with the technical side of the products as they should be. On the other hand, we ask unusual questions, so for typical consumer issues, the service is probably much more than adequate.

Hold times were minimal and well within the range of acceptable. Agents were polite, respectful, and patient with even very dumb questions (and our tester-guys and -gals are the masters and mistresses of the truly stupid question). Agents were also "California friendly" which is almost as amiable as "Canadian friendly" and somewhat more congenial than "New York friendly."

The Better Business Bureau confirms our assessment of the company's post-sale customer support and warranty service. It has awarded Pioneer an A+ rating on a scale of A+ to F. The rating reflects zero customer complaints to the Bureau over the past three years. However, the company is not accredited by the BBB and should go through the extensive vetting required to become accredited.

Where to Buy

Pioneer faucets are widely available from general merchandise retailers such as Overstock, Amazon, and Wayfair as well as dedicated plumbing supply stores including Ferguson, Briggs, and Winnelson.

The Pioneer website features a showroom directory that seems to be comprehensive and complete. Olympia faucets are generally sold in bulk quantities to builders but are also available as singles from the same online venues and usually through your local plumbing supply distributor.

Central Brass faucets are designed primarily for institutions – everything from your local Wendy's to the state prison – so you can expect to find them in venues that cater to the commercial kitchen market such as restaurant suppliers.

However, they are also surprisingly widely available from more DIY-friendly retailers such as The Home Depot but the selection is usually limited as are the options. Use the website's "Where to Buy" option to locate suppliers in or near your home town.

Private Brand Faucets

In addition to selling under its own brand names, Pioneer Industries supplies faucets sold under private labels, including:

Warranty claims and technical issues with these private-label faucets are handled by Pioneer's customer service.

Testing & Certification

Comparable Faucets

For faucets from Taiwan comparable to Pioneer and Olympia, consider any of the following:

Commercial faucets comparable to Central Brass, include:

These faucets are made eveywhere from the U.S. to China. Prices are usually higher, often considerably higher than those charged by Central Brass. Both and own proprietary compression valves equivalent to the Quick-Pression valve. We are not prepsred to say that any one is better than the others.

Conclusions

The consensus of our staff is that these faucets are a very good to excellent value.

Pioneer and Olympia faucets are very well-made, well-finished, and supported by a strong lifetime warranty and customer service that is capable and responsive

These faucets would be suitable for even the busiest kitchen or bath. Prices are in line with most suppliers of good-quality mid-priced faucets, and lower, even much lower, than most.

Central Brass faucets are suited for utility applications such as laundry rooms where style does not matter. However, if you are reproducing an Arts & Crafts or Post-War mid-century kitchen or bath, then some Central Brass faucet styles are a perfect match for the faucets of those periods.

Be aware that the Quick-Pression valve that is standard equipment in Central Brass faucets, while robust, needs periodic maintenance. We suggest you opt for the alternative ceramic cartridge and pay the slight upcharge unless you are of a mind to replace seat washers periodically.


We are continuing to research the company. If you have experience with Pioneer, Olympia, or Central Brass faucets, good, bad, or indifferent, we would like to hear about it, so please contact us or post a comment below.

Footnotes:

1. Using the word "Manufacturing" in the name of a business that does not actually manufacture anything risks the ire of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that concluded in a case decided in 1960 that such use is a "deceptive business practice" under Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act. (See: In the Matter of Lafayette Brass Manufacturing Company, Inc., et al., 57 F.T.C. 704 (1960).)

Statue An oil-rubbed bronze statue.
2. Oil-Rubbed-Bronze is a color, not a process. The finish is never actually oiled or rubbed.

Originally it was both oiled and rubbed.

Bronze, a combination of copper and tin, was the earliest metal alloy in wide use. It was discovered between 3,500 and 4,000 years ago and its discovery ushered in the Bronze Age.

Early bronze smiths and wrights discovered that rubbing hot oil or melted fat on heated bronze reduced tarnishing as well as giving the metal a rich, dark color.

It became a very popular finish for bronze statues and was at one time a favorite among armorers as a finish for bronze cannon, but hardly anyone makes cannon out of bronze these days.

Today it is just a color that (sort of) looks like oil-rubbed bronze, applied using either physical vapor deposition (PVD) or, more commonly, powder doating – and, alas, it is neither oiled nor rubbed.

3. Faucets are strictly regulated as to how much lead they may contain, and this requirement is not just a part of local plumbing codes, it is also a federal law that prohibits the introduction of a fau­cet "into commerce" and prohibits the installation of a fau­cet in a public or private drinking water system unless it complies with federal lead-free requirements.

Most fau­cets are made of brass, and brass is a metal alloy that may contain small amounts of lead. Before 2014, brass in faucets in the U.S. could contain up to 8% lead and still be called "lead-free" as long as they did not leach more than 11 parts lead per billion parts water (11 ppb) into the water flowing through the fau­cet.

The new federal standard contained in Section 417(d) of the Safe Drinking Water Act, effective as of January 4, 2014, reduces allowable lead content from the former 8.0% to the California standard of a "weighted average" of 0.25% or less. That's 1/4 of 1%, which amounts to no more than the barest trace of lead.

Under the current North American standard set out in ANSI/NSF 61 ("Drinking Water System Components – Health effects"), water passing through a faucet can pick up lead in amounts no greater than five parts per billion (ppb) – that's billion with a "b". That is not very much lead. In fact, to ingest a single gram of lead from a certified low-lead faucet you would have to drink about 250,000 gallons of tap water. Since the average person consumes only 30,000 gallons of water in his or her lifetime, it may take quite a while to drink that much water.

4. The Pioneer warranty explicitly identifies only PVD finishes as having a "lifetime warranty in residential service". The rest of the finishes fall under the general guarantee that the faucet will be free of defects in material and workmanship. A spokesperson for Pioneer assured our researcher that any manufacturing defect in any finish will be taken care of by Pioneer. However, be aware of the limited defects a finish warranty actually covers.

5. The warranty documents themselves are largely free of obvious defects, but the Pion­eer website does not comply with the warranty "pre-sale availability rule" published by the Federal Trade Commission (16 CFR Part 702) under the authority of Mag­nu­son-Moss. The rule requires a product warranty be made available to a potential buyer before any sale. For sellers over a website, the rule requires the seller to display the warranty with the product listing or, in the alternative, display a conspicuous link to the applicable warranty as part of the product listing. The Pioneer website does neither.

6. What the company intends to say is that its warranty does not apply to damages caused by the use of non-genuine parts. Unfortunately, that's not what this provision says. What it does say is that use of non-genuine parts voids the warranty. "Voids" means the warranty is ended, over, finished, kaput, forever gone.

If you use a non-genuine part in your faucet and some years later the faucet finish shows a manufacturing defect, the finish defect is not covered by the warranty. The warranty no longer exists. It was voided, years before by the use of the non-genuine part.

This insane result is clearly one Pion­eer does not intend. So, the warranty language should be something something like:

"Any damage cause by the use of a non-genuine Pioneer part is not covered by this warranty."

Actually, however, even this language is unnecessary. Defects caused by the use of non-genuine parts are clearly not "defects in material and workmanship" and are already not covered by the warranty. There is no need to single out the use of non-genuine parts. Such language is purely redundant, adding nothing to the warranty except excess verbiage.