Whether your faucet is inside or outside, whether it is decorative or industrial, whether it is metal, ceramic or plastic, all faucets have three main parts: a spout, a handle and a valve. They come in many sizes, shapes and finishes depending on their use and aesthetic considerations. All faucets have to comply with certain standards that are set by law and regulated by agencies like the National Sanitation Foundation.
According to the statistics obtained by the American Water Works Association Research Foundation, each person in the U.S. runs a faucet an average of eight minutes per day. This translates into a lot of water in spite of federal regulations about how much water can flow through any faucet. Faucets on bathroom sinks can only permit two gallons of water per minute to flow while bathtub and shower faucets can allow 2.5 gallons of water per minute. So, the most important part of a faucet is its valve because this controls and directs the flow of water.
Faucet valves come in four types: compression, cartridge, ball and ceramic drip valves. Before around 1940, all faucets used compression valves. These contain washers, so when the washer gets old, the faucet tends to drip. Once the washer is replaced there is no more leakage.
After he invented a single-handle faucet in 1937, Al Moen went on to develop other innovations for faucets. His company, Moen Faucets, marketed faucets with his newly invented cartridge valves. Now cartridge valves for faucets come in metal, plastic, ceramic and even plaster. A third type of faucet valve, the ball type, was invented by Landis Perrry in 1945. His patent was bought by Alex Manoogian in 1954. This became the unique feature of faucets sold by Delta Faucet. It is also used in Peerless and Brizo faucets. The most recent type of faucet valve is the ceramic drip. It was developed by Wolvering Brass and is used in European faucets and by Kohler, American Standard, Price Pfister, and Grohes faucets. Ceramic drip valves do not use any rubber parts.
While the valve may be the most important functional part of any faucet, the two other parts are equally necessary. The handle opens and shuts the valve. Until 1937, household faucets always featured two faucets: one to control the flow of hot water and the other to control the flow of cold water. Al Moen's first faucet-related innovation was to design a faucet with just one handle so that the flow of hot and cold water mixed together before flowing out of the spout. This prevented people from becoming scalded by water coming out of the hot water tap.
The spout is the third part of a faucet. Like the handle, it is usually made of brass with an exterior finish and form that matches the decor and intended uses of the faucet. Faucet spouts vary by whether they come with a spray feature. This is considered part of the spout even in faucets that have a side, hand-held spray attachment because its use shuts off the flow of any water through the main spout.