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Sinks can be made of many different materials and they come in numerous different styles. Your kitchen sink is likely different from your bathroom sink, but all sinks have faucets and drains in common and they work very similarly whether they are single-bowl, double-bowl, stainless steel or porcelain. There are four basic types of faucets that sinks can have. They are known as ball, cartridge, compression and disc faucets. All types of faucets work largely in the same way and differ in how temperature and flow are regulated. Sink drains work the same as the drain in your shower or bathtub and are surprisingly simple devices.

How Faucets Work

All of the different types of faucets deliver water to your sinks. Although water is not always flowing from your faucet (unless you have a leaky faucet, of course) there is always water flowing through the pipes you do not see. Water is always moving through your plumbing, which allows it to be available when you need it.

Compression faucets are the oldest faucet style and most likely to need to repairs. They have a knob for hot water and one for cold. They involve a washer that is controlled by a screw that moves up to allow water flow. On the outside, cartridge faucets often look like compression faucets and have two knobs or they can have a single lever. They have a stem to regulate water flow and pressure.

Ball faucets tend to be the leakiest type of faucet because they have the most components. They always have a single handle and regulate water with a slotted, internal ball. Disc faucets are the newest faucet design. They also typically feature a single handle. Inside they have two discs that control the flow of water and also mix the temperatures. They require less repair than older faucet technology.

How Drains Work

Gravity is largely what allows drains to function. A drain simply needs to be at a higher elevation than the destination of the water that goes down the drain. In the case of your home it is either your septic tank or the sewer. All of your kitchen and bathroom sink drains are similar, along with the drain in your bathtub or shower. Toilet drains are slightly different to handle larger materials and need additional water pressure that is generated by flushing.

Basic drains have three parts: a trap, a cleanout and a stack. Traps are either P or S pipes, that are named based on their shape. They collect solid materials in order to prevent clogs farther down the piping. Traps are also useful if you drop an important item down a drain. The cleanout is the lowest section of the trap piping. The cleanout is the point where drain snakes are sometimes inserted to remove clogs that form beyond the trap. The stack of a drain is sometimes referred to as a vent. The stack extends above the trap to release gases formed by the material that accumulates in the trap. Without a stack pressure will build up in the plumbing system.
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