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How a Faucet Works

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Faucet Parts Diagram

Though there are hundreds of different styles, colors, and shapes of faucets, the working mechanisms of nearly all can be grouped into four main types: cartridge, compression, ball, and disc. These names refer to the parts that actually control the flow of water through a faucet. The type of valve you choose will make a difference in a faucet’s price, how well it works, and how long it will last.

Three of these—cartridge, ball, and disc faucets—are mixing faucets. They normally have a single handle or control, though cartridge and disc types are also made with two handles. The compression faucet has two controls, one for hot, the other for cold. See more about each of these types of faucets by visiting the links above right.

Because washers and seals wear out with use—resulting in the familiar drip, drip—washerless faucets are generally favored. If you have a faucet that leaks or drips, chances are good that the washers, seals, or O-rings have become worn and simply need to be replaced. If you do the work, be sure to turn off the water to the faucet first, using the shutoff valves beneath the sink.

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About Don Vandervort
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Don Vandervort has developed his expertise for more than 30 years, as Building Editor for Sunset Books, Senior Editor at Home Magazine, author of more than 30 home improvement books, and writer of countless magazine articles. He appeared for 3 seasons on HGTV’s “The Fix,” and served as MSN’s home expert for several years. Don founded HomeTips in 1996.

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