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The Four Common Types of Faucets

Faucets are one of those things that have become so commonplace in our lives that we probably don’t notice them all that often (except for when they have an annoying slow drip that breaks the silence of your home. However, faucets are about as varied as the people who inhabit the earth. There are so many different sizes, styles, colors, and shapes out there, and choosing the right faucet is as much a decision regarding functionality as it is aesthetic design. Fixtures play an important part in how your space looks, so manufacturers try to release a variety of styles to appeal to as many people as possible.

However, despite the variety, the overwhelming majority of residential faucets fall into one of four basic types. That means that even though their shape and style may change, any two faucets of the same type will work largely the same way, and in many cases use similar or even identical parts. If you know how these types of faucet work, identifying issues and repairing them becomes significantly easier.

Here are the four most common types of residential faucets, as well as a brief description of how each of them works.

Ball Faucets

As their name implies, ball faucets use a ball joint to control the flow of your hot and cold water lines, and mix them appropriately as needed. These faucets are extremely easy to identify: they are controlled by a single handle on a rounded cap that is mounted directly on top of the spout. If your faucet has just one single lever that you push up and down to adjust water pressure and then left and right to adjust the temperature, this is a ball-joint faucet.

Ball joint faucets are particularly common in kitchens and other high-use areas because they are a type of washerless faucet. Rubber washers are a commonly-used seal in many types of faucets, but their rubber construction makes them prone to wear and corrosion. Thus, washer faucets tend to begin to leak over time. While ball faucets are not immune to leaking, they are a lot more resistant to them. Plus their easy, one-handed control makes them great for areas where utility is at a premium.

Cartridge Faucets

Cartridge faucets are always two-handled, and are common found in bathrooms. They are extremely easy to identify by their motion: if the handle moves up and down as you twist it to turn the water on and off, you are using a cartridge faucet. These types of faucets use a cartridge that moves up and down to control the flow of water. The more the cartridge raises, the more water flows through into the mixing chamber, and the higher the pressure of the water coming from the faucet. Opening the hot and cold cartridges in different ratios controls the temperature of the water.

Disc Faucets

Disc faucets are fairly new compared to the other types on this list and are usually one of the more expensive options. However, there is a good reason for this: they tend to be extremely durable and reliable for a long period of time. Identifying a disc faucet can be tricky—they tend to resemble ball joint faucets because they too only have a single lever to operate them. However, this lever sits atop a wide, cylindrical body in cartridge faucets as opposed to ball joints where the lever is attached to a shaped cap.

Disc faucets mix hot and cold water inside a cartridge mechanism. At the bottom of this cartridge are two ceramic discs that raise and lower to adjust the pressure of both your hot and cold water. The side-to-side motion of the handle opens one side more than the other, allowing for variance in temperature. Lowering the handle pushes both discs down, cutting off the water flow and shutting off the flow of water.

Compression Washer Faucets

Compression washer faucets are one of the oldest types of faucet still commonly in use today, and they are generally more popular in older homes with older plumbing fixtures. However, they are also a budget-friendly option as a result. The downside: they are more prone to issues compared to some of the other types of faucets on this list.

Compression washer faucets use rubber washers to form a tight seal that stops the flow of water. These faucets are generally identifiable by their two handles. The handles are often static and don’t move up or down as you rotate them, but their most identifiable characteristic is that you can physically feel a faucet handle’s motion getting tighter as the faucet shuts off. If the motion to turn your faucet off is smooth and requires uniform pressure, followed by a firm and sudden stop, then you’re looking at a cartridge faucet. If a faucet handle gets noticeably tighter the closer it is to shutting off completely, then you have a compression washer faucet.

Need help with your home’s faucets? Whether you need it repaired or a new faucet installed, trust the pros at Lange Plumbing & Fire Protection! Dial (702) 500-0936 today to schedule your appointment.