What is a faucet vs water tap in plumbing? (You Didn’t Know THIS!)

A faucet is a tap that you use in your kitchen, bathroom, or utility area. It helps you to draw water from the tank or reservoir in your home or apartment complex. It often consists of water inlets, spout, handles, cartridges, lift rods, etc. When we turn on a faucet, the valve is opened and we can adjust the water flow and temperature. Every time that you use a kitchen sink, bathroom vanity or shower, you use a faucet. It is a wide term that has a lot of types of uses.

There are indoor and outdoor faucets. Outdoor faucets can be used for pressure washers or sprinklers.

Types of faucets for a kitchen or bathroom

Most faucets are made of brass, stainless steel, die-cast zinc, and different metal alloys too are used. The metal coating makes sure that the faucet doesn’t rust. Even plastic and polymer-based faucets have been in use to reduce costs, especially in Asian countries.

Most residential faucets use single or dual-control cartridges and in the U.S, they have to comply with the water conservation laws too.

These are the four most commonly used types of faucets-

1. Ball faucets

The handle is placed on the top of a ball-shaped cap. When we open the tap, the ball moves up and water can start to flow. We find this type of faucet installed in kitchens and restaurants. They are easy to use as you just lift the cap and turn it around to adjust the temperature. They require more power to move than the following options though.

These faucets are quite affordable but tend to break down quite fast. In most instances, plumbers won’t bother repairing them and just install a new one. If it is a branded faucet, it might be possible to find replacement parts but it would take too much time for the plumber to get it fixed. This is why it is a good idea to pick more expensive faucets than the ones that you find in a big box store.

2. Disc faucets

Instead of a ball to open and close the faucet, a disc is used in these faucets. This allows for higher water temperatures. While this system is more modern and durable, it also costs more. You will generally see it in more high-end kitchens and bathrooms.

These faucets can take some getting used to as you can adjust the temperature by barely moving the handle. If you use too much force, you go from very cold to very hot water in an instant (provided that your water heater is working properly).

3. Cartridge faucets

Example of a cartridge that can be found in a shower faucet. Image by Plumbinginstantfix, all rights reserved

They have a very smooth mechanical movement and are technologically advanced compared to many other types of faucets. Cartridge faucets allow us to adjust the water flow without too much effort.

They are often used in showers. It is possible that you might have to replace the cartridge after several years as it can start to wear down. In some instances, you can clean them (to remove hard water) but often they just need to be replaced. You have to open up the faucet to do this and install the new cartridge.

More modern faucets can also use a sensor to activate. This means that you don’t have to touch a handle to get them started or stop them. This is great in public spaces as faucets don’t have to get cleaned as often.

4. Compression faucets

These faucets are not installed often. The technology is outdated and these faucets are harder to use. Plumbers often replace these with disc faucets as they are easier to use.

Parts of a faucet

Faucets have different parts. These depend on the type of faucet that you have. They generally have a handle, a connector for the water pipe and a connector to the sink (with an O-ring). Some faucets have a water chamber where the hot and cold water are mixed. This can give the user a better experience as the temperature changes are more gradual.

Faucets have rubber washers as well. These are small rubber rings that make sure that water doesn’t drip out of the faucet. Water doesn’t need a lot of space and rubber washers make sure that everything is watertight.

Example of an outdoor faucet. Image by Plumbinginstantfix, all rights reserved.

It is often possible to open up a faucet with a screwdriver. This will allow you to see all the small parts that your faucet has. Be careful as it can be quite challenging to reassemble it. If you need spare parts, you can look them up on the website of the manufacturer. You will need the model number for this. If you can’t find this number, you can send a picture to the manufacturer.

Faucet maintenance

Cleaning your faucet is important. This can be done with a soft sponge and some mild detergent. Make sure that you clean between the faucet and the handle as well as dirt can get stuck in this area.

You can remove the aerator (the part where the water comes out) to remove dirt from it. We have outlined how you can remove the aerator here.

If your faucet is leaking, then you need to repair it as soon as possible. Once you ignore a leaky faucet, it will cost you more to repair it in the future. To fix a leaky faucet, you need to identify the problem area and repair it. There are many areas of a faucet that can cause a leak. You can identify them by looking at the faucet carefully. You can use the following tips to fix a leaky faucet:

– Check the Washers: The washers are used to seal the faucet. When they are worn out, they will cause a leak. You can replace the washers with new ones.

– Check the Cartridge: If the cartridge is worn out and causing the leak, you can replace it with a new one.

– Check the Spout: A loose spout can cause a leak. You can fix it by tightening the screws.

– Check the Screws: If the screws are loose, they can cause a leak. You can tighten them to fix the problem.

If you have an outdoor faucet, it is important that you remove the connected garden hose before the winter starts. Make sure to get a winterized garden faucet to avoid frozen pipes and water leaks. This can cause a lot of damage.


Faucets are an important part of our plumbing networks at home, and they are regularly used fixtures. We should always maintain them properly; clean them with mild detergent to keep them shiny. The most important part is to change the washers when the taps start leaking. Cleaning the aerator from time to time is important as well.

Else, we end up wasting a lot of water, and since water is becoming a scarce commodity, we need to save each drop.