Consumers want the nicest-looking faucets they can afford, but they still want to know they can fix them if they need to. Manufacturers have responded with new features, longer-lasting finishes and ergonomic designs that make it easier for people to use, particularly children and the disabled.
Faucets for the kitchen, lavatory and tub/shower can be one or two handle, and come in a variety of styles. Spouts can be gooseneck, pullout or standard in brass, chrome, nickel, gold or mixed finishes. Better faucets feature ceramic disc cartridges or stainless-steel ball valves.
Washerless faucets reduce leakage problems that result from worn washers. They are relatively easy to repair because most new models have the water-control mechanism housed ha a replaceable cartridge. Replacing a cartridge is an easy do-it-yourself project, compared to working on conventional faucets. Most faucets that offer this convenience are labeled “self-contained cartridge.”
Usually, a waherless faucet uses a rubber diaphragm or two metal, plastic or ceramic discs with holes that align to let the water flow or close to shut off the water flow. Ceramic plates are more difficult to damage than rubber seats, but hard water can sometimes cause problems with the ceramic cartridges, such as squeaking or sticking. Single-handle faucets that use stainless-steel ball design have just one moving part and are a durable alternative.
Turning a lever, T or four-ball handle attached to a threaded spindle regulates water flow in a compression faucet (a common residential faucet). When the spindle is turned down, the washer or disc attached to its lower end is pressed tightly against a smoothly finished ring or ground-seat which surrounds the flow opening to shut off the water flow. If the washer and seat do not make a firm contact at all points, water will leak. This usually happens when the washer becomes worn.
Most bath, lavatory and kitchen sink faucets are made with renewable seats that are replaceable when they become worn. Seats in faucets that are not removable may be reground with reseating tools.
Fuller Ball Faucets
A small nut or screw fastens a hard rubber or composition ball stopper (the Fuller ball) to a shaft with an eccentric end. To replace a Fuller ball, the faucet must be unscrewed and separated from the supply source. The nut or screw should be removed with pliers or a screwdriver, the ball removed and replaced.
A ground-key faucet has a tapered cylindrical brass plunger or plug that fits snugly into a sleeve bored vertically through the body of the faucet. The plunger, which is rotated by a handle, has a hole or slot bored horizontally through the body of the faucet. If the slot enlarges and a leak develops, the horizontal opening in the body of the faucet needs to be polished.
The plunger or its sleeve may become grooved or worn by sand or grit particles rubbing against the metal, allowing water to leak. This requires polishing the rubbing surfaces. The nut or screw at the bottom can come loose, permitting the plunger to move out of its proper position.
- Combination faucets mix hot and cold water ha a single arm.
- Tub and shower faucets can be built into the wall or flush mounted on the wall above the bathtub. They come in different patterns.
- In three-valve bath and shower faucets, two valves control water and a third diverts water either through the spout or to the showerhead.
- Two-valve tub and shower faucets have an automatic device on the spout that, when activated, diverts water to the showerhead.
- Two-valve tub fillers and shower fittings fill either the rub or control water in the shower, as do the tub and shower faucets.
Lavatory faucets are also available in several different patterns. A ledge-mounted faucet is mounted on the lavatory or countertop in a horizontal position. Standard faucets are made with 4″ centers; other faucets, called wide-spreads, are made with adjustable center measurements up to 12″.
The shelfback faucet is mounted vertically on the lavatory. Center measurements on these faucets vary with the manufacturer.
Kitchen sink faucets come in a great variety of patterns. Concealed faucets are mounted underneath the sink, with only handle flanges and spout visible. Exposed faucets are mounted on top of the sink, with or without sprays.
A mixing faucet, known generally as single lever, is produced by a number of manufacturers as swing spout kitchen faucets, lavatory faucets and bath faucets. They ordinarily operate by pushing the upright lever straight backward for a 50-50 opening of hot and cold water, back and to the right for cold, and back and to the left for hot water. They have the advantage of being quick-opening and closing, and nearly all have complete repair kits. Automatic mixing valves maintain water temperature, automatically correcting changes caused by turning on other faucets.
An over-the-counter faucet is easier to install because there is no need to crawl under the sink and reach behind the basin to secure the faucet. It comes with factory-installed flexible supply lines and a spring-loaded toggle, with the screwhead concealed by the escutcheon. Another kitchen sink faucet is a wall-mounted unit that is connected to pipes coming through the wall above the sink. The most common size in kitchen sink faucets is 8″ center, but 6″ and 4″ are also available.
Laundry faucets mount either on laundry tubs or on the wall above the tub. Most fiberglass tubs require a ledge faucet with 4″ centers. Laundry faucets are sometimes furnished with a standard 3-3/4″ hose thread outlet on the spout. Most codes require the use of a vacuum breaker attachment if the outlet contains threads to prevent water contamination.
Located on the outside wall of the house, frostproof sill cocks are made of heavy red brass and look and work like any ordinary faucet. However, water flow valves are located inside the building where it is warm.
When properly installed, frostproof faucets automatically eliminate the need for one or more inside shut-off valves.
The anti-siphon frostproof sill cock employs integral back-siphon and back-flow devices. These serve to prevent potential back-siphonage, which, if unchecked, could compromise the safe potable water supply to the home. Hose-attached garden sprays and other pressurized canisters can potentially link a cross-connection if a pressure charge occurs when the frostproof is in the open position.
The anti-siphon frostproof sillcock allows for outside spigot usage in freezing climates. The closing member (seat washer) is located inside the heated building.
The heart of a faucet spray is a mechanism called a diverter or butterfly valve located inside the faucet in a chamber just below the base of the swing spout.
This valve normally permits water to flow freely through the spout when the spray attachment is not in use. When the thumb-controlled valve on the spray is open, an imbalance of water pressure is created to operate the valve.
A piston-like piece snaps down, shutting off most of the water supply through the spout and diverting it through a hose that leads to the spray head. This valve cannot be put into any faucet that was not originally made with a chamber for the valve.
- Aerators are attached directly to the faucet to prevent water from splashing in the sink.
- Stationary aerators create a steady flow of water in one direction; movable aerators aid in directing water flow into the sink and supply either fine spray or a steady flow.
- Twisting or up-and-down motion on the movable aerator determines the type and direction of the water flow. Aerators adapt to both inside and outside threads.
- A snap titling is used in place of an aerator as a snap action hose fitting for quick connection to portable washers and dishwashers.
- Self-cleaning aerators are available. They automatically clean themselves whenever the faucet is turned on and off
- Washers are the most basic plumbing accessory retailers stock–and the heart of many home plumbing problems.
- Nylon or polypropylene washers are not recommended because they will not seal under cold water conditions. Urethane washers will seal under hot or cold and are said to outlast rubber.
- Washers that have been damaged by rough faucet seats that allow foreign particles to embed themselves in the washers usually cause leaking faucets.
- Washers in most faucets include top bibb, faucet and cone or “O” ring washers. The faucet washer is located in the spout bibb washer under the stem and “O” ring or cone washers in the handle stem.