Stem type vs cartridge: You decide

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How to identify stem type from cartridge type faucets?

Stem type vs cartridge: You decide

If your faucet has two handles, you have either a compression type or a cartridge type. How do you tell? Compression (or stem type) faucets have been around for ages. Cartridge types are a relatively recent phenomenon. If you don't have the installation instructions that came with the original faucet (fat chance, right?), you're going to have to put on your plumber's hat and do a little hands-on research. Start by shutting off the water supply and removing a faucet handle. Most all handles are fixed on with a screw, which you can usually find under a decorative cap that you pop off with a small screwdriver. Remove the screw, then lift or jiggle the handle off. (Warning: This is not always as easy as it sounds.) If you see a shaft going down into the body of the faucet, you have a compression type. On the other hand, if you see the innards encased in a plastic body that you can lift out easily, you've got yourself a cartridge type.



8/1/2007 7:51:25 AM
Don Romero said:

The easiest way to distinguish cartridge from stem-type faucets is by how far the travel is from water on to water off. A second clue is how the handle 'feels' at the turn-off point. Cartridge systems typically have from 1/4 to 1/2 turn from on to off and come to hard stops. Stem systems usually have a full turn or more in them and feel mushy when turned off and will tend to stick when turned off hard. If starting to dripping, a stem system will "fix' for a while if you turn harder. Putting a hard turn on a cartridge system will have no effect on the drip, and a hard turn with a wrench only risks breaking the handle or the cartridge.


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