Types of Home Faucets and How to Repair Them
It is not uncommon to find different faucet models with different operating systems, even within the same household. In general, the functionality of the faucet does not pose a pressing problem as long as it serves its main purpose.
However, if your faucet starts dripping, leaking, or sputtering, it’s important to understand the nuances. They all work – and break – differently. There are four main types of faucets, each with unique functionality and potential problems. To carry out a faucet repair, you must first identify the type it is. Let’s explore the four types of sink faucets you might find in your home and how they work.
Compression faucets are the oldest type of faucet. If you have an older home and haven’t changed the faucets, there’s a good chance you have a compression faucet.
All compression faucets have separate handles for hot and cold water. You manually tighten these handles and loosen them by turning them to allow water to flow from the faucet. Loosening the faucet handle opens the valve and starts the water. Tightening again will stop the water. Using these handles is probably similar to turning a screw, because that’s basically what it is!
Compression faucet handles connect with two sets of stems (one for each handle). Rod assemblies are basically screws with washers on the end. These assemblies sit on the tap seat of the faucet where the water flows into the faucet. When you close the faucet, move the stem assembly toward the valve seat. When it reaches the valve seat, the stem washer presses on the valve seat, stopping the flow of water. When you turn the faucet back on, the washer will rise and allow water to flow again.
Repairing a compression faucet typically involves removing the handle, disassembling the valve assembly, and replacing the washer inside. Even though it’s not difficult, you need to be careful to turn off the water and make sure no parts slip down the drain while you’re working! To make this repair easier, have a handful of large enough washers handy if needed.
Ball faucets were developed as the first discless faucets. Unlike compression faucets, a ball faucet only has a handle for hot and cold water. They are particularly common in kitchen sinks. If your faucet’s handle rotates semi-freely up and down and side to side, it is probably a ball faucet. The ball valve lever controls water temperature, pressure and flow.
The handle of a ball valve controls a rotating ball called a lever ball assembly. The lever ball assembly is located inside the faucet body. The whole thing is based on a system of sources and inlets directly above the opening through which the water flows through the tap. This ball features built-in chambers and slots. These slots align with the hot and cold inlet seats inside the faucet body. By maneuvering the ball, you align the ball’s slots with the faucet’s inlet seats and control how the water flows through the faucet.
Repairing a ball faucet involves removing the faucet handle, diagnosing the cause of the problem, and correcting the problem with the appropriate repair kit. If you know the make and model of your faucet, you should be able to purchase a ball valve repair kit that includes all the parts you may need. You may need to replace the valve seals, the O-ring, the ball itself, or a combination of these parts. It all depends on the worn parts of your ball valve.
Disc faucets are a newer design than compression or ball faucets. Like ball faucets, they are designed not to rely on washers. The body of a disc faucet is much wider than other faucet types and is usually cylindrical. They are generally more durable than their compression or ball counterparts. The wide, cylindrical body of a disc faucet houses two ceramic discs: an upper disc that rotates with the handle and a lower disc that remains stationary.
These two highly polished discs are both perfectly flat, so when pressed together they form a tight seal. When you turn on the faucet to let the water flow, the top disc separates from the bottom disc. Water flows through the newly created space until you close the faucet again.
Repairing a disc faucet typically involves removing the faucet handle to access the inner cartridge that houses the ceramic discs. Cleaning the cartridge and rubber seals may help restore proper operation. If your disc faucet is still leaking, you may need to replace the entire cartridge. It’s simple and relatively inexpensive. Most local hardware and hardware stores carry a variety of windshield washer cartridges to fit your model.
Unlike other faucet types on this list, cartridge faucets can have one or two handles. However, unlike compression faucets, you don’t have to turn the faucet handles to control the water flow. Instead, you can simply turn the handle of a cartridge faucet to start the water flow. Unless there is a problem, you should be able to turn the handle from off to on with a smooth, easy movement. Single-handle cartridge faucets, like disc faucets, move up and down to control water flow and back and forth to regulate temperature.
Cartridge faucets contain a hollow metal cartridge inside the faucet body. This hollow cartridge seals the faucet and blocks the flow of water from the hot and cold water pipes. When you turn on the tap, push the cartridge forward. In its forward position, the cartridge no longer covers the water pipes, allowing water to flow through the faucet. When adjusting the temperature, turn the cartridge slightly so that it blocks either the cold water supply or the hot water supply.
Repairing a cartridge faucet is as easy as removing the faucet handle and replacing the cartridge inside. The only trick is to replace the faucet cartridge with the correct model. Bring your old cartridge to your home or local hardware store to match it to the correct type. Some manufacturers offer replacements by mail.
Wisler Can Help Repairing All Household Faucet Types
Understanding your faucets is a good first step. Once you have identified your problem, you can take the appropriate steps to resolve it. Different faucet repairs require different tools and parts. And always make sure to turn off the water supply and cover the drain before you begin disassembling your faucet.
If you need help repairing your faucet or other plumbing fixtures, call Wisler Plumbing & Air anytime. Older sinks, rusty parts, and outdated plumbing can make the job difficult for anyone. We would like to bring your sink faucet up to date so that it continues to perform well for years to come.