Kitchen Faucets 101
Faucets: they’re used for rinsing dishes, soaking cookware, filling a cup before running out the door to work, washing the puppy or filling water balloons. Kitchen faucets and sinks are the single-most used feature and necessary item for any kitchen, large or small. It’s no wonder, then, that there are so many options when choosing a kitchen faucet. There are styles and finishes available that are suite to suit every taste, both simple and extravagant. Whether you’re redesigning your kitchen or simply replacing a faucet, these kitchen faucet basics will help you choose the faucet that’s best for you and your family, both functionally as well as aesthetically.
How Many Handles Does it Take?
Prior to purchasing a faucet, it is important to determine the anticipated uses of the kitchen sink faucet. Will you be relying upon your kitchen sink to wash all of your dishes? Do you have a large family that requires many hands in the sink at the same time? Or, do you merely wish to have a faucet for occasional cleaning and rinsing? Additionally, consider the ages of your family, as little ones may lack the strength and dexterity to fully turn off a knob faucet.
Simple with Single Handle Faucets
Traditional kitchen faucets are single-handle faucets with one water spout for both hot and cold temperature water. This model of the faucet also referred to as a pull-down faucet, is more than adequate for most sink-related tasks, especially when trying to conserve space in a smaller sized kitchen. Faucet models with lever handles are ideal for both the arthritic as well as younger individuals; the easy up and down motions eliminate the need for significant hand strength.
Two Handle Faucets
Contrary to single-handle faucets, a kitchen two handle faucet has two separate knobs for hot and cold water. These faucets reduce the amount of splash and spray that many handle faucets produce. However, shutting knobs completely off may be challenging for some. Yet, this double design allows you to choose the range of temperature you need to work with, without fiddling the handles around to find the perfect temperature.
No Hands Required Faucets
In addition to kitchen single and double sink faucets, there are also unique kitchen sink products available, such as handless-faucets. These faucets are activated without pulling or turning any handles or knobs. Rather, handless faucets are mounted with sensors that detect touch either on the nozzle or faucet itself, which turns the water flow on. These creative faucets are ideal for quick rinses and provide endless entertainment for the young.
If you’ve determined which types of kitchen products are right for you and your family, then the next option to consider is the faucet finish. Kitchen faucets, like those offered by Price Pfister and Kohler, come in a variety of finishes including chrome, white, rubber, oil rubbed bronze and satin nickel. With so many varieties, there’s sure to be a finish and style that matches your kitchen décor.
Ready, Set, Install!
Now that you’ve determined what handles will provide optimum faucet performance in your kitchen, you’re ready to install your brand new faucet. Prior to beginning the installation process, be sure that your product has the same number of holes available as your sink, or you will be required to either replace or install new plumbing as well. Next, be sure to assemble all required parts of the faucet. If you’re replacing a faucet, be sure to have the proper tools to connect the faucet, since your only point of access will be underneath the sink.
Also, for the faucet to function, be sure to check the manufacturer’s directions so that you have the correct plumbing fixtures necessary for installation. These include piping, the faucet itself, faucet aerators and optional scald-protection materials. Lastly, follow the directions included with the kitchen faucet set and you’re ready to flow!
Types of Kitchen Faucets
Kitchen Faucets are available in hundreds of different shapes, styles, and colors. Whatever be the type of kitchen faucet, they are grouped in four different types depending on the principle they work. These four types of kitchen faucets are cartridge faucets, compression faucets, ball faucets, and disc faucets. These kitchen faucets get their names from the parts that control the flow of water.
Cartridge, disc, and ball faucets are also called mixing faucets. Ball faucets normally have a single handle while cartridge and disc faucets may have a single or double handle. Compression faucet has two controls for hot and cold.
The price of kitchen faucets depends on its valve. These valves play a vital role in price, performance, and life of a faucet.
Below I discuss all these four types of faucets in detail.
Have a look at the compression faucet on the right. Compression faucets have two separate handles to control the flow of water. The handle is connected with a washer. Turning the handle controls the flow of water.
The other three types of faucets have “O-rings” in place of a washer and hence are also called “washerless.”
As the name suggests, cartridge faucets have a hollow cartridge (metal or plastic) insert that seals against the spout or faucet body. This cartridge mixes and controls the flow of water depending on the arrangement of holes in the cartridge.
I personally like cartridge faucet because they offer a smooth flow of water. I have observed that they drip sometimes. This dripping problem can be solved by replacing the cartridge with a new one.
As the name suggests, ball faucets work with the help of a rotating slotted metal ball. They have a single lever.
The slots in this ball align with hot and cold water inlet seats in the body of the faucet that controls the flow of water. These faucets look quite stylish.
As the name suggests, disc faucets work with the help of two different discs. The upper disc is movable while the lower disc is fixed.
The flow of water is controlled with disc movement from side to side or when they are lifted and lowered. The lower lift remains fixed while the upper disc moves.
I personally prefer washerless faucets because washers and seals can wear out that may lead to water dripping.
If your faucet leaks or drips, most probably the washers, O-rings or the seals have worn and need replacement.
Buying Kitchen Faucet
Here I will explain some tips and ideas on buying a kitchen faucet.
If you are looking for the right and perfect kitchen faucet for your sink, this kitchen faucet buying guide will help you. There are different types of kitchen faucets in all different kinds of styles, shapes, and colors. But before you buy any, it is always a good idea to understand what you are buying so that you get your money’s worth.
Here is a quick summary of different types of kitchen faucets: Kitchen faucets of grouped into four types – cartridge faucets, compression faucets, ball faucets, and disc faucets. These kitchen faucets get their names from the parts that control the flow of water.
Price of kitchen faucets depends on its valve. These valves play a vital role in price, performance, and life of a faucet.
Now we are ready to discuss buying a kitchen faucet.
Kitchen Faucet Buying Guide
Faucets are something that are used too often. We turn them on and off every day and we do this year after year. This is why it is necessary to wisely choose a faucet that is not only good looking and stylish, but it should also be easy and convenient to use. It should be safe and have a long durable life.
The price of kitchen faucets depends on its valve. These valves play a vital role in price, performance, and life of a faucet. The price of a faucet can decide its quality, how good or poor a faucet is. A good faucet will naturally cost more. But is not always necessary that an expensive faucet will always be a good one. You need to make a wise choice so that the faucet meets your needs and living style. You need to understand the working mechanism of different kinds of faucets. Read my previous article on types of kitchen faucets for a clear and better understanding.
While buying a new faucet, it is important to carefully understand the valve. A good valve can provide consistency in the hot and cold water supply. Many faucet manufacturers offer a temperature-limit feature (scald-guard) to prevent burns. These are extremely helpful because you can adjust the maximum water temperature the faucet will deliver. This feature is also useful if you have small children at home.
People and the government is getting serious about water conservation. For this reason, it is now mandated that all new faucets should deliver a maximum of 2.5 gallons of water per minute. Some faucet manufacturers offer restrictors so that you can adjust and restrict the flow of water.
Finally the warranty. Different faucet manufacturers offer different warranties. Look for a long term warranty. A lifetime warranty against drips and leaks is good. This ensures that your faucet will provide years of trouble-free service and if it doesn’t, you get a free replacement.
How to Install a Kitchen Faucet
How to install a kitchen faucet is neither too easy not too difficult. If you know the basics of home plumbing, you can do it yourself. You will also need some essential home tools. If you are planning to install a faucet in a new sink, it is quite easy as compared to installing a faucet in an existing sink.
Installing a faucet into a new sink is simple because you can do it before setting the sink in place. You get full access to all parts of the faucet. The most difficult part is to get access to the mounting nuts which are quite hard to reach. But with a new sink, it is quite easy.
On the other hand, replacing a faucet in an existing sink can be hard and a challenge. Getting access to all parts of the faucet gets difficult, especially parts under the sink. You may have to lie on your back and work with the water supply pipes to get access to the mounting nuts to secure the faucet.
A plumbing tool called basin wrench can be of great help in the installation of a faucet. It helps you extend your reach to difficult areas of the sink.
How to Install a Kitchen Faucet: Step-By-Step Plumbing Guide
1) The first thing to do is to read and follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions. Some of the new faucets need some assembly you can mount the faucet to the sink. Follow the manufacturer’s directions.
2) If the faucets packaging included a rubber gasket, insert it between the base plate of the faucet and the sink top to create a watertight seal. In case there is no gasket, you may have to pack the cavity of the faucet with plumber’s putty. Now you can insert the faucet body through the holes in the sink top. Thread the mounting nuts onto the faucet shafts. Center the threaded shafts in the sink’s holes and tighten the nuts firmly.
3) If you are installing pullout sprayer faucet, thread the sprayer through the faucet body first. Then connect the sprayer to the faucet body. Check and follow the manufacturer’s directions. Most pullout sprayer faucets and faucets with separate sprayers come with a counterweight that attaches to the sprayer hose. This helps retract the hose back into the sink cabinet after using the sprayer. Again follow the manufacturer’s directions to find out where to secure the weight. Take care not to damage the hose during the process.
4) Now hook the faucet’s hot and cold water supply lines to the water supply shutoff valves located under the sink. Firmly tighten the nuts with an adjustable wrench.
Once you are done with the installation of your new faucet, remove the aerator from the faucet and flush the lines to remove any debris or clog that can reduce the water flow.
Kitchen Faucet Repairs, Troubleshooting and Fixing Problems
Repairing Kitchen Faucets
Most faucet repair jobs include small work such as replacing seals, washers, seals, O-ring and other such small parts. These hardware parts are easily available in most stores for plumbing materials and hardware stores. A faucet repair tool kit can be very helpful here.
As I explained in my previous articles, faucets are named after their working mechanism namely cartridge, compression, ball and disc. Out of these four types of faucets, cartridge, ball, and disc faucets are single-handle faucets (Though cartridge and disc faucets may have 2 handles). Compression faucets are double handled.
Out of these four types of faucets, the ones with washers mostly cause water dripping problem. This is why most people prefer washerless faucets.
Here I will discuss the most common kitchen faucet problems and how to troubleshoot and fix these problems.
Faucet Drips: How to Fix a Dripping Faucet
Here I explain step-by-step DIY tips and techniques to repair a faucet that drips or leaks.
Most faucets (tap) drip or leak because some part of the faucet has worn and need replacement. This is quite easy and simple. Just disassemble the faucet, find out the worn out part and replace. It could be the washer, O-ring, seal or any other small part. Most of these parts of the faucet are readily available in most hardware stores.
Repairing dripping and leaking of a faucet also depends on the type of faucet you have and which part of the faucet is dripping.
If it is a single-handle faucet, most probably it is either a disc, ball or cartridge faucet. If your faucet has two controls, for hot and cold water supply, it is probably a compression faucet. Disassemble the faucet and locate the washers, seals, and O-rings. Check if they are worn out. Replace if needed.
Repairing and Fixing Washerless Faucet Dripping Problem
Washerless faucets are so-called because they don’t have normal compression washers that disc, cartridge, and ball faucets have. They are less prone to dripping or leaking. They use O-rings in place of washers. These O-rings can wear out over a period of time and may need replacement. If a washerless faucet drips, most probably you need to change the O-ring.
Compression Faucet Repairs
Compression faucets are the most likely to drip because their washers or seals wear out too quickly over repeated use. These washers should be replaced immediately with a new one or constant dripping of water that can even cause more damage as it can waste water, corrode fixtures and stain sink bowls.
Remember, a compression faucet can have either a washer of an O-ring.
Cartridge Faucet Repairs
Cartridge faucets leak or drip mostly because of wearing or breaking of the O-ring. If replacing the O-ring doesn’t fix the dripping or leaking problem, you may have to change the cartridge with a new one. These cartridges are available in most home improvement centers, hardware stores, and plumbing material supply stores.
Make sure that you buy a cartridge that matches the existing original one or it may not fit.
Disc Faucet Repairs
Disc faucets leak mostly when the inlet and/or outlet seals wear. They can also leak if the inlet and outlet are clogged with sediments. Discs of a disc faucet normally don’t often wear out too quickly. They are long-lasting. The leaking and dripping problem occurs mostly when the seals fail. Replace the worn seal with a new one to fix the problem.
Make sure that you buy seals that match the existing original one or they may not fit.
Ball Faucet Repairs
Ball faucets drip or leak mostly when the inlet seals or the O-rings wear or break.
If the handle of the ball faucet is leaking, just lift the handle and tighten the adjusting ring. Should it continues to leak, replace the cap.
If dripping is from the spout the inlet seals and springs or the ball may need replacing.
Faucet Repair Tips
If your faucet is dripping, check and replace the washer, seal or the O-ring. Do not apply too much pressure on any part to avoid damage. If the faucet is too old and is continuously dripping or leaking, it is better to replace it with a new one.
If the water supply is slow, check for any blocking or clog. Make sure the supply valve is fully open. Sometimes, an unclean aerator may resist the flow of water. Unscrew the aerator and clean it with hot water and a toothbrush.
Our articles on this topic:
- How to Replace Kitchen Faucet
- Stainless Steel Kitchen Faucets
- Oil Rubbed Bronze Kitchen Faucet
- Brushed Nickel Kitchen Faucet
- Wall Mount Kitchen Faucet
- Kitchen Faucets