We all take turning on the tap for fresh running water for granted. But this relatively simple device is available in a wide range of styles that can be incorporated into a specific design for your bathroom or kitchen.
The most traditional design is the pillar tap. Instantly recognisable by its bell-shaped cover and handle that is in the form of a cross (the capstan), pillar taps will come in a pair so as to supply hot and cold water separately.
Handwheel handle tap
Although more modern that the pillar tap, the handwheel handle has still been around for quite some time. The cover and the handle are incorporated in a shrouded head, which is the handwheel that controls the flow of water. This design prevents soapy water running from the hands, down the spindle and into the tap mechanism where it will wash away the plumber’s grease.
The high-neck tap has an elegant design but is also very practical when fitted to a shallow sink. As the spout is at least 95mm (3 ¾ in) above its base, it allows large saucepans to be filled without difficulty. The high-neck tap can have a capstan or a leaver handle for controlling the flow of the water.
Lever handle tap
The design of this tap is ideal for the elderly or disabled. For the flow of the water is controlled simply by pushing the handle, rather than by gripping and turning it. The majority of taps of this design will be fitted with ceramic discs instead of the conventional washer. One disc will be fixed while the other will move. Each disc will have an opening and when they are aligned the water flows through. The water flow is controlled by just pushing the lever 90° in either direction.
All mixer taps will have one spout linked to two taps. Usually a mixer tap is fitted to the hot and cold supply pipes through two holes in the sanitary ware or sink surround. But there are variations and you can find mixer taps that are connected through three or just one hole.
Monobloc mixer tap
This compact tap has its spout and handles positioned close together. It is fitted to supply pipes through just one hole in the basin or bath. Kitchen monobloc taps may have a flexible hose fitted with a spray and brush attachment.
Bath/shower mixer tap
The centrally located control knob diverts the flow of water from the single spout to the shower handset. Although it will not provide the force of a fitted shower, it can still prove to be a useful attachment.
Kitchen mixer tap
Most kitchen taps are supplied directly from the mains. As it is illegal to mix cold water from the mains supply and hot water from a storage tank in the same pipe, kitchen mixer taps will have separate channels in the spout for carrying the hot and cold water. Kitchen taps are designed to swivel from side to side enabling them to reach a double sink.
Bath or basin mixer tap
As bath taps are usually supplied from storage tanks it is acceptable for the hot and cold water to mix within the body of the tap. If the cold water comes direct from the mains supply, however, this type of mixer tap would be illegal. This is because a change in the mains water pressure can cause water from a storage tank to be sucked back into the mains, possibly contaminating drinking water supplies.
Hose union bib cock
This tap is mostly found outdoors or in workshops or garages. It will have an angled head and a treaded nozzle to allow a hosepipe to be connected.