What is Kitchen Faucet Cartridge? (All About Cartridge!)

A cartridge is an integral part of the kitchen faucet that allows a smooth flowage of water. It is made of valves that control the water flow. Most kitchens have cartridge faucets, so knowing how to clean, fix and replace them will come in handy at least a few times.

What is kitchen faucet cartridge?

A kitchen faucet cartridge is a device in the faucet that controls how fast and where the water flows out of the tap. In layman’s terms, a faucet cartridge is a valve determining whether the water will be turned on and off and how much of the water is allowed to come out.

A faucet with cartridges can be found in the kitchen or shower taps. A cartridge basically decides how much water you can have access to and where you can use it. It is designed in such a user-friendly manner that repair, fixing, and replacement of dripping or broken cartridges is easy.

It can be both a single-handed kitchen faucet or a double-handed kitchen faucet. The most common cartridge faucet problems happen because of the decay of the O-ring or passage clogging.

What is the purpose of a faucet cartridge?

A faucet cartridge simultaneously controls how much water can flow through a faucet as well as turning it on and off. Most bathroom or kitchen faucets are the kind that has two handles, which handle hot or cold water. The handles themselves have their own cartridge that gets to control the stream of water from the spout. 

All you need to do to use a faucet cartridge is to turn the handle a working nozzle will start the water tide. If it’s a single-handle cartridge, easy up-down movement lets you control the water flow, and side-to-side gets to dictate the water temperature. 

To put it simply, a faucet cartridge decides how and when you can get water.  

How does faucet cartridge work? 

The casing has lines of pipes that run-up to the faucet base, where the hot and cold water travel. The water is then inserted into the diverter mechanism is called the cartridge. Right above, there is a set of seals that stop water from spilling out until the lever is moved.

The metal cartridge is usually hollow and inside the body of the tap. This faucet cartridge is a restrictive valve that blocks the water, seals the tap from the water line inlets. 

When pushed or pulled, the cartridge is engineered to move and halt from covering the pipeline and so allows the water to fall. For the hot and cold function, moving it side by side strategically regulates how much hot or cold water can be blocked or let out from the holes.

Cartridge faucets are called “washerless” because their method of controlling flow does not use a washer and valve seat.

Do all kitchen faucets have cartridges?

No, not all kitchen faucets have cartridges. While it is a regular choice for bathroom faucets, kitchen faucets can be of a different kind. There are multiple types of kitchen faucets; cartridge faucets are just one of the most common ones. 

Though most two-handle faucets tend to be cartridge faucets, if it is too old, chances are it’s a different type. These types are called compression-type faucets.

Speaking of handles, cartridge faucets can be, as mentioned above, can be single-handled or double. They are also usually made of plastic or brass bodies. Single handled cartridges work with both water flowage and temperate with the singular cartridge fitted within. Double handled faucets, as you would guess it- has two cartridges, one in each lever. 

Are kitchen faucet cartridges universal?

No, kitchen faucet cartridges are not universal.

So, if you need to repair or replace the cartridge, you have to make sure you know the part number. Since the cartridges are not interchangeable, shower faucets fitting will not work on a kitchen tap and vice versa.

In order to know the part number, you can just easily contact the manufacturer via their website, usually available under the owner’s manual.

How do I identify my faucet cartridge?

As depicted above, it is crucial to identify the faucet cartridge before attempting to repair or replace it. Understanding the faucet and what it is made of is the first step to realizing what is wrong with it. It is even more imperative to identify the unit because different repair functions require separate tools. So, it can be said identify the cartridge first will save some time, effort, and money too.

If you do not know the year your faucet was installed, you might need to remove the handle before you start any dismantling.

Usually, the faucet model number is printed on the cold-water line’s tag. This supply is situated on the base of the sink or countertop, characteristically preceded by “P/N”.

Most residential faucets cartridges are single or dual-control. It should be noted that if you know the company of your faucet is Moen, then be rest assured it is a cartridge faucet. Moen is infamous for building only cartridge models.

Many online sites, especially the American Standard website, can help you identify your faucet cartridges as well. This will help with Delta sinks and taps, for they can also have ball valves instead of cartridges in their fittings.

Another tip is that a conventional compression faucet can be turned a full 360 degrees. A handle with a cartridge, on the other hand, can only be turned 90 degrees. You can kind of feel the cartridge moving upwards when you lift the handle, which further helps the distinction.

What does a cartridge look like? 

A cartridge is frequently made out of plastic, and a metal retaining nut holds them in place. This metal or plastic cartridge seals the water against the pressure of the spout. Looking them up, especially in the make of your model, will help to classify what they look like.

Single control cartridges can be made of a metal or plastic core. The other kind uses a metal or even nylon ball that is spring-loaded with rubber seals. Ceramic disc cartridges are also becoming a regular choice for the everyday consumer. Such details are important to notice when needing to grease or clean the cartridge.

How do you fix a faucet cartridge?

If your faucet has started to leak, it is a sign that it is time to fix or replace it. 

Luckily, modern plumbing engineering has made new faucets easy to take apart and fix. They also made sure replacement parts are easily found in most hardware and supply stores. 

It is advised to always shut the water off before dismantling the faucet.

The equipment needed most times are wrenches, pliers, screwdrivers, and utility knives. Materials include replacement valves, an old toothbrush to clean off the gunk, and approved plumber’s grease.

The basic steps include 

  • Removing the decorative can
  • Screwing and pulling the handle off
  • Using the pliers to pull the retainer clip out
  • Removing the cartridge by pulling it out
  • And finally, replacing the O-rings and seals to fix whatever problems that were ailing you.

How do you replace a kitchen faucet cartridge?

Again, a reminder that the water supply must be shut off by turning the valves completely off.

Kitchen faucet cartridges need to be replaced if they are several years old and are proving difficult to turn. A leaky faucet also indicates to replacing the kitchen faucet cartridge.

It is further suggested that for double-handle cartridges if one cartridge is being taken out, replacing both at the same time might save money, labor, and future hassle. 

Follow the same steps as mentioned above in the “how do you fix a faucet cartridge” section, but once you have taken out the old cartridge, just install the newer piece. Here are some faucet cartridge, that you can check out – Delta RP50587 Single Handle Valve Cartridge, MOEN 1224 Replacement Faucet Cartridge, American Standard 994053-0070A Faucet Cartridge etc.

You can always call a plumber to help you out if DIYs disinterest you. Their hourly rates will depend on the complexity of the task involved, so make sure to research and do your due diligence.

How do you grease a faucet cartridge?

Applying grease to your faucet cartridge can make it turn or move smoother. However, keep in mind that different faucet fittings need different lubes.

For example, petroleum-based Vaseline or any other oil-based grease will break down the rubber kit inside the cartridge. This substitute will react with the O-rings and dry them out, further making it difficult to operate by corroding them as well.

To grease a faucet, you just have to apply it to the stem of the valve or the specific hole that needs to be greased. Usually, you need to remove the cartridge and lubricate it using the appropriate grease. Silicone-based grease seems to be the go-to. However, you should always check with the supplier.

How do you clean a faucet cartridge?

Cleaning the faucet cartridge will clear out the sediment or limescale build-up and help to fully shut the handles.

It is not brute force that will help to breakdown the clogging that’s happening in the faucet, but a simple acid solution that can be homemade. Use a toothbrush to clean the cartridge with a vinegar or lemon juice solution. It is also suggested not to be rough when brushing the limescale off, for it can mess up the finish underneath.

How long should a faucet cartridge last?

A faucet cartridge typically lasts as long as a faucet. That is to say; a cartridge can last up to 20 to 30 years. It is recommended to replace any faucet that’s over 15 years old, just to be safe. The rubber or the plastic seals might give up after half or a full decade, but as noted above, they are rather easy to deal with.

A faucet cartridge can be basically called the valve that is engineered to control both the water flow and temperature by rotating it to a certain degree. Maintaining this little valve ensures the longevity of the whole faucet itself, for it guarantees less leakage and easier use. 

Whilst the repair and replacement tasks may seem droning and tedious, getting them done means you warranted the mental peace of smooth, leak-free water usage for months if not years, to come.

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