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When deciding on the style of the bathroom or kitchen, many homeowners pay attention to the wall and floor coverings, looks of the sinks and tubs, colour accents but rarely think of a very important detail – their faucets. Whether you are planning to remodel, replace a broken faucet or cosmetically change the look of your kitchen or bathroom, you should make a decision based on more than looks and price. Choosing the right faucet is one of the most important aspects. If you know how the different types of taps work, you can choose the one that best suits your sink.

A leaky faucet is a nuisance in itself but it can do much more damage than just getting on your nerves with its constant dripping. It can bear a potential expense in a form of repairs if it stains your sink or tub and in the form of your water bill since it wastes a lot of water. By choosing a reliable faucet at the outset you are less likely to encounter such problems. The construction of a faucet determines its reliability.

Mechanically, there are four types of faucets: compression, cartridge, ball, and disc. Each of them has different mechanisms for controlling water flow, and all are relatively easy to fix if a washer, seal, O-ring, or cartridge needs replacement and starts to leak or drip.

Compression Faucet

Compression faucets are the least expensive type. They are most often found in older homes. You can tell a compression faucet from separate knobs for hot and cold water that work when you twist them to either open or shut the water flow.

Compression faucets will at some point start dripping. Their rubber seals or washers will eventually wear down and need to be replaced. The washers are located at the end of a compression stem that stops the water flow when the handles are tightened. When the washer stops doing their job properly, water gets past it and starts dripping. Thankfully, replacing a seal is an easy job - even a person lacking in mechanical knowledge can do it.

The other three types of faucets are called washerless. They are a better value as they tend to leak much less than compression faucets.

Ball Faucet

A ball faucet is commonly used in kitchen sinks. It has a single lever that controls a slotted ball that aligns with the cold and hot water. To control the water pressure you have to lift the lever, which, in turn, lifts the ball to let the water through. The temperature is controlled by moving the lever from side to side. This aligns chambers in the ball where hot and cold water mixed. A ball faucet is the leakiest of the ‘washerless’ faucets.

Cartridge Faucet

This type has a hollow metal cartridge that seals the faucet and controls water flow and temperature. It may have one or two handles. A single-handle one works by being pulled up or down to adjust water pressure and moved back and forth to adjust temperature. A double-handle cartridge faucet works not unlike a compression faucet, but is easier to use since you don't have to apply force to turn it off and on. contains All of the parts are locked in the cartridge – therefore should a leak or drip occur you need to replace the whole cartridge.

Ceramic Disc Faucet

This is the latest in faucet technology and the most reliable. This faucet controls water flow with two fire-hardened ceramic discs: one stationary and one that moves sideways or up and down. By sliding across each other the discs control both water flow and temperature. Disc faucets tend to have a wider body to house the discs, which are located inside a cartridge. They are considered the most reliable faucet types; the cartridge rarely needs replacement. They are the most expensive and often come with lifetime cartridge guarantees.

The latest innovations on the market are much more sophisticated, equipped with a light-sensitive censor, a thermostat, or a pressure equalizer. But for now their price is too high to have universal appeal.