by Staff Writer
All plumbing fixtures use valves. Valves, or mechanisms that take the place of valves, maintain a water-tight seal inside your bathroom faucet and regulate the flow and temperature of water. Knowing how bathroom faucet valves function will help you make a better purchase and understand how to make basic faucet repairs. Here are four valve types you're likely to see in modern bathroom faucets.
Compression valves: Compression-valve faucets have been around the longest and are the least expensive. The bathroom faucet usually has separate hot and cold water handles and their action requires you to tighten the handles down to close off the water flow. Rubber or plastic washers inside the bathroom faucet valve can start to corrode or crack, which breaks the seal and causes leaking. Luckily, washers are cheap and easy to replace. Just disassemble the bathroom faucet valve assembly and slip in a new washer.
Ball valves: Ball valves are used in washer-less faucets. A spherical disc with a hole in the middle blocks water or allows it to pass. With a quarter turn, the valve is fully open and the bathroom faucet is fully on. With no washers, leaks are usually a result of corrosion. Usually, the entire bathroom faucet, or the handle, will need replacing. This type of bathroom faucet doesn't leak very often, and can last as long as you own your home.
Cartridges: Cartridge faucets operate with a movable stem cartridge that moves up and down to regulate flow. Bathroom faucets with cartridge valves are extremely durable. If leaks occur, you can simply remove the cartridge and install a new one. You will need to know how to disassemble your bathroom faucet, though.
Ceramic disks: Ceramic disc valves are very durable. Bathroom faucets with ceramic disk valves are identifiable by their single lever over a wide cylindrical body. These faucets have a wide cartridge housing two ceramic discs that slide over one another to control water flow and temperature. Hardened ceramic is a durable material that resists corrosion and wear. Ceramic valves are replaced similarly to cartridge valves.