Faucets, known as "valves" in the plumbing trade, are available for kitchen and bath sinks, which are known as "lavatories.
The most important measurement when installing a faucet is the "center" -- the distance from the center of the hot-water handle to the center of the cold-water handle. You must know this measurement. When the water and drain pipes are installed, they also have centers to which the faucet's center must correspond. If the pipes are 8 inches apart, so must the hot and cold taps be 8 inches apart.
Lavatory faucets usually have 4-inch centers, but 8 inches is not uncommon. Wall-mounted lavatory faucets usually have 4 1/2-inch centers, but may be 6 inches. Kitchen sink faucets are usually 8 inches apart, and so are tub faucets. Utility sink faucets are normally 4 inches apart.
Faucets that use washers are called compression faucets. As you turn the handle, the washer at the end of the stem presses against and plugs up the hole, or seat, inside the faucet body where the water emerges. The washer may be made of rubber or neoprene, a plastic composition, or, the newest thing, ceramic.
In a so-called washerless faucet, which always has only one handle, there is a ball inside the faucet that is manipulated by moving the handle. The ball slides across and plugs up the hole where the water is emerging.
Faucets are made of a variety of materials: chrome-plated brass, chrome-plated pot metal, chrome-plated plastic, and plain plastic. The latter, referred to in the trade as "builders' special," are inferior. But chrome-plated plastic is good.
Chrome-plated brass comes in two types, tubular and cast. The cast variety is much better and can be determined by hefting the faucets: the cast type is heavier.
Chrome-plated pot metal rots out readily. You can tell the difference between pot metal and cast brass also by hefting: cast brass is heavier. In addition, look on the underside in a corner where the plating didn't take for the flash of yellow indicating brass.
Compression faucets that use ceramic disks are much more expensive than ones using rubber or plastic washers, but on faucets where the water piping is new, they may be a good investment. If the plumbing is old, however, material that has scaled off from pipes may score the ceramic disk, destroying the water seal, and the faucet will leak until the disk is replaced.
Washerless, single-handle faucets are available for lavatories, sinks, and tubs. They do a better job of mixing hot and cold water and also maintaining water temperature. Single-handle faucets that keep the water temperature constant are also available.
When buying a faucet, stick with brand names, companies that have been in business for a while.
Note also that a faucet should be easy to turn even if your hands are wet and soapy. Some faucets have barrel-shaped handles or globes or other designs that are difficult to grip. No matter how well they are made, their design may make them an unsatisfactory product.
PLUMBING HOME HARDWARE SECTION
Description of Contents
Faucets & Parts
Toilet Tank Parts
Toilet Bowl/Seat Parts
OTHER HARDWARE SECTIONS
GENERAL HARDWARE SECTION
ADHESIVES, PATCHES & MORE