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How Do Faucets Work: Anatomy, Diagram & Mechanisms Explained

how do faucets work
Written by Callum Strempel
Last Update: November 18, 2022

A faucet is a system that lets you turn on and off the flow of water. The faucet is more than just the metal component from which water flows; it is the entire system for regulating water flow. In case you are wondering how faucets

How Do Faucets Work – Anatomy & Functioning

Types of valves used in kitchen faucets

1. Compression valve

  • Simple and inexpensive, compression valves are the most common types of kitchen faucet valves. A compression valve has a screw stem that raises and lowers itself as it rotates, as well as a rubber compression washer at the rim.
  • The steam rises, and the rubber washer is pulled out of the open water inlet when the valve handle rotates counterclockwise. This action allows water to flow through the faucet’s body. When the stem lowers, the washer is squeezed into an open inlet, effectively blocking water flow.
  • The main advantage is these valves and their fixtures are much cheaper than other varieties.
  • A viable choice for most homeowners due to the low cost of parts and relative ease of repair.

2. Ball valve

  • The ball valve is another common form of valve found in faucets. Single-handle faucets use ball valves, which are also relatively inexpensive.
  • A steel ball with a network of grooves and holes is the main component of a ball valve.
  • The hot and cold water inlets align with these grooves and holes. The water temperature and flow rate gets regulated by changing the ball with the faucet handle.

3. Cartridge valves

  • Cartridge valves are commonly used in faucets and provide excellent output at a low cost. A small cylinder made of plastic or brass is the most important part of a cartridge faucet. A network of channels within the cylinder directs water flow rates and regulates temperature.
  • The bottom of the cartridge is sealed with an O-ring to avoid leakage around the edges.
  • Cartridge valve faucets have many advantages. Cartridge valves, for example, may be used in a single-handle configuration, similar to ball valve faucets, or coupled inside two-handled taps.
  • Since cartridge valve faucets have few components, they are designed for easy replacement. In reality, replacing a worn-out cartridge with a new one is all it takes to repair a leaky faucet.

4. Ceramic disc valve

  • Ceramic disc valves are the newest type with a revolutionary design that comes with two rotating discs.
  • The discs have channels that align when rotated, allowing water to flow and temperature settings to be regulated.
  • Long-lasting, extremely dependable, and require little maintenance.

Mechanics Behind Faucets

kitchen faucets work

Inside the pipes

A faucet is a device that allows water to get delivered from a plumbing system. The components present in the faucet are – first and foremost the spout, and then comes the handle(s), with the lift rod, cartridge, and aerator accompanying them. The mixing chamber and water inlets are also the components of the faucet.

Single or dual-control cartridge faucets comprises of the bulk of residential faucets. The single-control types have metal or plastic cores that act vertically. Metal ball with rubber seals are spring-loaded and recessed into the faucet’s body in other cases. Nylon cartridges and rubber seals falls within the lower-cost dual-control faucets. Ceramic-disc cartridges are used in some faucets and they are quite long lasting.

Faucet components

The body of a faucet transports water from plumbing systems. The Adjusting Ring seal that is made of diverse materials ensures that the water-tightness of the faucet’s joints is maintained. The Spout Assembly powers the spout and the Faucet Lever is used to turn the tap on and off.

The Spout is the gap from which water flows and the Aerators are small mesh screens that are mounted on the end of faucets to control water flow into several small streams, reducing the amount of water that flows from the tap. The Sprayer device is used for spraying water

The Hose Guide guides the hose for quick watering and prevents the hose from getting tangled and scraped. The spray hose connects the faucet to the water source and the Compression couplings connect two pipes to a fixture or valve. The Cold Water Supply device allows cold water to get delivered from the main water source to the required location.

The Shutoff Valves regulate the flow of water. The Hot Water Supply device allows hot water to get delivered from the main water source to the required location. The Mounting Nut holds the faucet in place on the drain and a washer, which is a small flat ring, connects the aerator to the faucet stems. It can be of metal, rubber, or plastic. Lastly, the Escutcheon is a flat piece of metal that protects and conceals the pipe or valve hole.


The water is held at high pressure in the first pipe that connects to the water supply. The stopper covering the hole lifts to release the pressurized water. The higher the stopper rises, the faster water flows from the faucet outlet.

Twisting mechanisms

The mechanism for lifting the stopper varies according to the form of the faucet. Twist-open faucets and lift-open faucets are the two most popular forms of faucets. Handles that require a twisting motion are attached to the plugging mechanism by a spiral device, which allows it to twist slowly into the cavity. Twist-based facets regulate a water flow by moving just a fraction of an inch with every handle revolution.

Lifting mechanisms

Lifted faucets work on the same principle, except the plugging mechanism goes straight up and down instead of easing into the gap. Lift-based facets aren’t nearly as accurate as lift-based facets when it comes to releasing water.

Motion detector faucets

The motion detector faucet is a relatively new form of the faucet. As motion is detected, these faucets emit a stream of water for a brief period. Despite the differences, the fundamental concepts remain the same, with the human component replaced by an additional mechanism that automatically raises and lowers the stopper.

Two-handle faucet functioning

A kitchen faucet with two handles gives you more control over temperature and flow rate than a single-handle faucet. Since the hot and cold lever handles are different, you can change the temperature gradually by hand instead of depending on an internal valve that may be aged, worn, or partially blocked by scale.

If one of the valves leaks, this type of faucet will continue to work. Repairing a washerless faucet is simpler because you only have to turn off one shutoff valve to replace the worn component, which is normally an inexpensive washer. Still, if you have that form of the faucet, the repair can include removing an O-ring or a slightly more expensive cartridge. In this case, you will continue to use the tap until the repair gets completed.

Faucet tap functioning

The operation of the faucet tap is straightforward. The pressure on the rubber washer is relieved by turning the lid. As the rubber washer relaxes, the water can rise. Whenever you twist the cap downward, the pressure on the washer increases, and the water flow stops automatically.

Faucet seat functioning

The rubber washer is kept in place by the faucet seat. The tap will not operate if it does not hold the washer correctly, and water will leak.

Touchless kitchen faucets functioning

Touchless kitchen faucets, equipped with the technology, allows you to switch on the water flow without the need to touch the faucet. Instead, simply putting your hand under the spout will start the water flow, and when you remove your hand, the water will stop.


1. How long do kitchen faucets last?

Ans. Unless they are affected by incidents other than normal wear and tear, you should expect them to last at least 15 to 20 years.

2. What to do when the faucet doesn’t work?

Ans. Check to see if the stopcock on the faucet is open, as this could also be causing it to shut off. Your water main may detect an emergency, shut down, and then become unable to reopen. To see if the shutoff valve is open, look at the line’s control value.

3. Why does my faucet water flow slow?

Ans. The water saver on low-flow aerators is a small disc inside the aerator that no one should remove. Replace the aerator with a different form if it is the source of the problem. To flush excess material from the faucet, run hot and cold water with the aerator turned off. Scrape the debris out of the aerator and clean it, then replace it on the tap.

About the author

Callum Strempel

Licensed Plumber

Hi, I’m Callum, a full time plumber with a plumbing license issued by my state. So far, I’ve spent nearly a decade and a half installing and fixing a wide variety of plumbing components and units. My profession inspires me to talk about the kitchen and bathroom (and the plumbing system) so confidently and knowledgeably that I offer my free consultations to help neighbors and fellow homeowners every now and then. As I enjoy installing faucets, sinks, showers, and fixtures, I love to see people enjoying services from those components for years to come. So, I write every week to inform you and others. Will you mind going through some of my articles on this website?

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