The Advantages and Disadvantages of Ceramic Disc Taps

Taps drip. It’s inevitable, like death and taxes.

Traditional taps seal using a rubber ring screwed down over

the end of a metal pipe. Sooner or later the rubber is

going to go hard, split or just wear away and it will no

longer seal. Then water seeps through, and the tap starts

dripping. Left alone the problem gets worse as the water

wears away the valve seat. Then you’ll have to either

re-grind the valve seat(Do you own a valve seat re-grinder?

Who would?) or replace the tap. Tedious in either case.

But, it need not happen. Many taps now use ceramic discs.

Method of Operation

Instead of creating a seal by forcing a rubber washer onto

the end of the water feed pipe, they use two ceramic discs

each with matching slots in them. These are held over the

end of the water feed pipe. The lower disc doesn’t move

while the upper disc is turned over the lower disc by the

tap head. Water will only flow when the upper and lower

slots match up.

Advantages

There are a number of benefits to this arrangement. The most

obvious is that ceramic discs are much harder than rubber

and much more resistant to erosion by water seepage. Hence

they have a much longer life before needing replacement.

Additionally, because the water flows between the two discs,

the discs erode not the metal of the valve. Also, because

of the way the discs are arranged, the taps go fully on with

only one quarter of a turn and tap needs only light pressure

to operate. This light action has the advantage that they

are easy to operate with the back of the hand if your hands

are dirty and for people with restricted movement.

Where they are Used

The ease of operation and the long life mean that most good

quality sink mixer taps have been made using ceramic discs

for a while, but basin taps with ceramic discs are

surprisingly less common. The more use a tap gets, the more

attractive the use of ceramic disc technology becomes. This

is doubly true in hard water areas, which can be murder on

traditional taps.

Disadvantages

Everything has it’s downside, and there are cons to ceramic

disc taps. They do eventually wear out and are more

expensive than old style taps and are not suitable for very

low water pressure. Unusually, many of the manufacturers

seem to use standard sizes, so getting a replacement is

often straightforward. Because taps on basins can be either

handed or not not, one can’t always be sure which way to

turn each tap on, this can be annoying! Lastly, unlike

traditional style taps, which take a number of turns to be

on full, you may easily turn the water flow on far more than

meant. The unexpectedly vigorous water flow and splashing

can cause water going everywhere, including over your

clothes. Not Good!

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