Do All Kitchen Faucets Have Cartridges? (Explained)

In a kitchen, a faucet is the most used fixture and due to regular use, it can wear out or sometimes leak. In this situation, the cartridge could be a reason.

So the question comes to mind is do all kitchen faucets have cartridges?

Not all kitchen faucets have cartridges. Mostly you will see cartridges on a single-handle faucet. However, if you have a single-handle faucet that doesn’t mean it will always have a cartridge.

Because faucets may look the same from the outside but the internal parts could be different. Basically, there are four types of faucets – ball faucets, ceramic disc faucets, compression faucets, and cartridge faucets.

So first you need to understand what type of kitchen faucet you have.

How Do I Know What Type Of Kitchen Faucet I Have?

To know what type of faucet you have. First, you need to disassemble the faucet and look inside. Start by removing the faucet handle and look inside the faucet fixture.

This will help you understand the type of faucet you have. If we talk about kitchen faucets, they look the same from the outside but they could be different from the inside.

Basically, there are four types of faucets – ball faucets, ceramic disc faucets, compression faucets, and cartridge faucets.

Types Of Kitchen Faucets

1. Ball Style Faucet

Ball faucets are very common and mostly found in every kitchen sink. They were the first type of faucet which is designed washerless.

You can easily identify the faucet by its single handle that moves over a rounded ball-shaped cap right above the faucet spout.

If your faucet handle moves semi-freely up and down and from side to side that means you have a ball faucet.

A ball faucet has a single handle that controls a rotating ball called the lever ball assembly which is made up of either metal or plastic body.

The lever ball assembly is located inside the faucet body. This ball has chambers or slots inbuilt. The ball assembly also has rubber O-rings and spring-loaded rubber seals.

Basically, the main function of ball assembly is to control the flow and temperature of the water coming from the faucet.

If we talk about the exterior part of the faucet, it is as durable as other types of faucets, but the inner parts are not as durable and need more maintenance.

Since they have a number of parts inside the faucet body which makes them less durable. Also, they tend to leak more than other washerless faucets such as cartridge faucets or disc faucets.

On the other side, the ball faucet is made with old technology so they are the least expensive faucet.

2. Ceramic Disc Faucet

In recent years ceramic disc faucets are the latest development in the market. You can identify the faucet by its single liver over a wide cylindrical body.

However, the most obvious way to identify ceramic disc faucets is that they are only quarter turns, instead of at least two and a half turns used with washer faucets.

In simple words, ceramic disc faucets only need a quarter turn or 90-degree turn to open or close the faucet.

There is a great difference between washer faucets and ceramic disc faucets.

Washers are used in old faucets and if we talk about ceramic faucets, they have two ceramic discs – the bottom one is fixed and the upper one is turned by the faucet handle.

When the slots in the ceramic disc are aligned, the water starts flowing through the faucet. If the discs are not aligned, the water will stop coming.

In a ceramic disc faucet, you can control the temperature by side-to-side rotation of the faucet handle.

Since these faucets are made of high-quality material so they are highly durable and do not need to be repaired very often.

However, the faucet is a newer technology so they are more expensive than other types of faucets.

3. Compression Faucet

Compression faucets have been around since on-demand indoor plumbing become available. They are mostly found in older homes and updated versions are usually found in laundry room wash basins in newer homes.

You can identify the compression faucet by their separate hot and cold water handles.

In a compression faucet, you will find a stem, which is a type of glorified screw with a washer at the bottom of it that presses against the valve seat. The valve seat is located at the base of the stem.

These faucets are the least expensive to buy but they are not as durable for the long term.

Also, they need more maintenance because most of them are prone to leaks. On the good side, replacement parts are low-priced.

4. Cartridge Faucet

If we talk about cartridge faucets, they have a single handle that controls the hot and cold water. But sometimes it becomes difficult to identify between compression faucets and cartridge faucets.

Because there are some cartridge faucets that have two handles – for hot and cold water. So having two handles doesn’t mean it is always a compression faucet.

The best way to identify the faucet is by how the handles fell when you turn it on and off.

Compression faucets close the water flow by tightening down the handle. On the other side, cartridge faucets have a smooth and consistent action. A cartridge faucet turns off without applying any pressure.

However, if you are not able to identify the faucet by checking the handle then simply disassemble the faucet handle and look inside.

If you find a stem inside then it is a compression faucet and if there is a cartridge then it is a cartridge faucet.

What Is The Difference Between A Faucet Stem And A Cartridge?

A faucet stem or cartridge is part of the faucet assembly that controls the flow of water coming out from the faucet.

However cartridge and stem are two different parts, they both do the same work, but in different ways.

You have heard many people mention a stem faucet as a cartridge faucet. Most people assume that faucet stem and cartridge are the same, they’re actually different.

A stem is used in two-handle faucets, where one handle is for hot water and the other is for cold water. A cartridge is used in faucets that control both cold and hot water through one handle.

Both stems and cartridges are made of plastic, brass, or ceramic. The most popular material used is ceramic. According to plumbing parts specialists, most people preferred ceramics because they last longer.

Remember one thing whether you have a cartridge faucet or a stem faucet, if you find any leaks or drips in a faucet

or maybe your faucet turns on by itself in this situation you need to replace the cartridge or stem because they are not repairable. You have to replace them with new ones.

How Do I Identify My Kitchen Faucet Cartridge? (3 Ways)

There are three ways through which you can identify your kitchen faucet cartridge.

1. Check The Brand Name

 Check For A Brand Logo

There are a couple of places where the logo could be hidden.

Start by cleaning the faucet and the handles with the help of a multipurpose cleaner or glass cleaner to make sure that any dirt or grime isn’t covering up the brand name or logo.

Wipe off the cleaner with a rag and then observe the faucet and the handles to find if there are any shapes or words that may represent the particular brand.

Once you find the brand name then it will be a lot easier to identify your kitchen faucet cartridge.

Look At All The Faucet Parts

Some brand names and logos are very small on the faucet or sometimes it is printed on the unnoticeable part of the faucet. Look at all the faucet parts with the help of a flashlight.

The Flashlight will give you a better look at the faucet.

While holding a flashlight, get closer to the faucet and look at the curves of the faucet and the handles to make sure that you aren’t missing any representation of the faucet brand.

Check The Model Number

Look for a model number, if you don’t see any brand name or logo on the faucet. While less likely, there may just be a model number visible instead of a brand name or logo.

If you find a model number but no brand information on the faucet, simply search for the model number online. If you type the entire model number online, the company webpage may pop up.

Look For A User Manual

If you recently purchase the faucet then look for a user manual. Basically many items that you purchase come with a small information packet or instruction booklet.

Check around your house if you find any user manual that comes with your faucet.

The user manual will help you to identify your faucet brand name and once the brand name is known, you can identify the faucet cartridge.

2. Count The Number Of Splines

First, you need to turn off the water supply valve before taking the faucet apart. The water supply valve is located underneath the kitchen sink. Turn the valve in a clockwise direction until you can’t turn anymore.

If you can’t find the supply valve, you may need to shut off the main supply valve of the house. The main supply valve is most likely located near the water meter.

Then plug the basin drain or put the towel so that any small part could not fall into the sink drain.

Now remove the faucet handle with the help of a screwdriver or Allen key. After removing the handle, you will get access to the faucet stem.

The stem is a cylindrical piece that sits inside the faucet and there is a broach on the top of the faucet stem. You have to simply count the number of splines on the broach.

Use a permanent marker and mark any one of the splines so that you can easily count how many they are.

Use the marked spline as a starting point and count all the splines until you get back to the marked spline. By doing this, you will get to know the number of splines your broach has.

3. Identify By Size

Measuring the stem size will help you to identify the brand name and get the exact replacement of the stem. Please take a look at this stem identification chart.