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The four different types of faucets on the market are compression, ball, cartridge, and disc. Compression faucets have been around the longest, and can be recognized by having two separate handles for hot and cold water, along with rubber washers incorporated into the design. Ball faucets have one handle that maneuvers around a ball located at the base of the faucet. Cartridge faucets can have one or two handles, and have a cartridge that controls the flow of water. Disc faucets are the newest version, and can be identified by having one or two handles along with ceramic discs controlling the flow of water.
Compression faucets are the oldest of the traditional style faucets that utilize two separate handles, one for hot water, and the other for cold water. Inside the compression faucet is a valve that opens and closes to regulate the flow of water. When a person moves the handle to turn the faucet on, the valve opens and the water flows through. Similarly, when a person turns the handle to shut off the water, the valve closes and compresses against the faucet's rubber washers. This compression is what prevents the faucet from leaking water when it's not in use.
Ball faucets are easily distinguishable by having only one handle and having a ball located at the base of the faucet's spout. The ball design is commonly used in kitchens and is the first faucet type invented that doesn't require the use of washers. When a person moves the handle, water flows into different chambers of the ball, where hot and cold water are mixed to the desired temperature. A major flaw with the ball design is that it has a reputation for frequently leaking.
Cartridge faucets have a universal design and can be made with one handle or two. When using a cartridge faucet, one would lift the cartridge lever up to turn the water on, and push it back down to turn it off. To change the temperature of the water, one would simply need to turn the lever from left to right until the desired temperature is reached. It's called a cartridge faucet because inside is a unique cartridge mechanism that moves vertically up and down to control water flow.
Disc faucets are the newest type of faucet. Inside the faucet are ceramic discs that slide on top of one another to control the flow and temperature of the water. These faucets usually come in a one-handled design, but may occasionally have two. The disc faucet is considered a step up from the washer-free design of the ball faucet. Despite not using washers, disc faucets rarely leak.