On kitchen sinks, the centers of the pipes to faucets are usually 8 inches apart. On lavatories, the pipes are on 4-inch centers.
In the past almost all faucets were the compression type, which shut off the water by pressing a rubber washer against a seat with a hole in the middle. Now there are many other types that, though they require much less maintenance, require proprietary parts when they do need repair.
In compression faucets, the seal is made by a bibb washer which is usually neoprene. Bibb washers come in three styles:
The first two types are held to the stem by a brass or monel machine screw, anywhere from ¼ to ½ inch long. Some have a 6-32 thread and some 8-32, but if the hole is #10 use caution! Three different #10 threads have been used in faucets: 10-24, 10-28, and 10-32.
In order of increasing size, neoprene washers come in sizes 00, 0, ¼S, ¼L, 3/8, 3/8 M, 3/8 L, ½. Fiber washers, which some prefer if the seat is worn, come in 0, ¼S, ¼, ¼L. Because householders almost always buy washers in a pack of assorted sizes and fit them by cut-and-try, the main purpose of these lists is to let you know whether there is a larger or smaller size you don't have, when the size you've got doesn't fit.
Swivelhead washers are held to the stem by two prongs instead of screws. They are used when the screw has broken off (a new, unthreaded hole is drilled), or when the rim around the bottom of the faucet stem has been worn away.
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Last revised: 20 December 2002.