Lav Faucets: The Inside Story
By Fran J. Donegan Faucet manufacturers have their own proprietary designs. But the valves that control the water inside are based on one of these four types: Compression valves are the traditional systems on two-handle faucets. Rotating the knob or handle raises a stem and opens water flow. Washers beneath the stem wear out with time but are easily replaced. Ball valves contain a slotted metal or plastic ball that aligns with the hot- and cold-water inlets when rotated by the faucet handle. Developed by Delta and exclusive to single-handle faucets, ball valves are reliable but tedious to fix. Choose a metal valve over plastic. Sleeve-cartridge valves contain a cylinder that controls the flow of water as it's lifted and turned. These systems wear well and are easy to repair because most of the parts are contained in the sleeve itself. In most cases, you simply lift out the old cartridge and drop in a new one. Ceramic-disk valves are the latest in faucet technology. Available in both single- and double-handle models, they consist of two disks in a sealed cylinder that allow water flow when aligned. This system is extremely durable - rare leaks are usually linked to the neoprene seals at the water inlets. Repairs are easy.
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