American Standard Kitchen Faucet: Ceramic Valve

It seems everybody must disassemble an American Standard kitchen faucet to replace the spout seal O-rings, as my description of How It’s Done has remained in the top five most popular posts since I wrote it up in 2009.

About two years ago, I replaced the valve cartridge with a (presumably) Genuine Replacement; unlike the O-rings, the original valve lasted for nigh onto a decade. A few weeks ago, the replacement valve began squeaking and dribbling: nothing lasts any more. Another (presumably) Genuine Replacement, this time from Amazon, seems visually identical to the previous one and we’ll see how long it lasts.

I always wondered what was inside those faucets and, after breaking off the latching tabs in the big housing to the upper right, now I know:

American Standard Faucet - disassembled

American Standard Faucet – disassembled

You get a bunch of stuff for twelve bucks! The stainless steel valve actuator is off to the right, still grabbed in the bench vise.

The valve action comes from those two intricate ceramic blocks with a watertight sliding fit:

American Standard Faucet - ceramic valve parts

American Standard Faucet – ceramic valve parts

In fact, you (well, I) can wring the slabs together, just like a pair of gauge blocks. That kind of ultra-smooth surface must be useful for some other purpose, even though I can’t imagine what it might be…

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  1. #1 by madbodger on 2016-10-24 - 09:30

    Did you disassemble the original cartridge? Did it look different?

    • #2 by Ed on 2016-10-24 - 09:36

      I confess I just tossed the first one: definitely a Bad Day.

      • #3 by madbodger on 2016-10-24 - 09:42

        When I installed my new tub, I chose some fancy Jacuzzi brand ceramic valves (the Jacuzzi brand tub itself was brutally expensive, so I went with another brand, but the brand-name hardware was very nice and surprisingly affordable). Unfortunately, one of them wouldn’t shut off when I tested it. I turned off the water with the handy ball valves I had added behind an access panel and disassembled the offending valve. The culprit was a little solder ball. The valve itself was surprisingly simple, two identical-appearing ceramic discs with holes in them. Unbeknownst to me, the holes had a slight taper, and I assembled it wrong, so it still wouldn’t shut off. As I eventually worked out, the discs have to be arranged so the narrow ends of the holes face each other. It worked flawlessly the rest of the time I lived in that house.

        • #4 by Ed on 2016-10-24 - 13:27

          Makes you wonder how the factory assembly sequence ensures the proper orientation; perhaps some of the new valves leak their First Water. Surely they have a fixture that grabs the tapered holes in only one orientation!

  2. #5 by RCPete on 2016-10-24 - 13:14

    The American Standard two-handle faucets now come with a GRP valve stem instead of brass. I had to use plumber’s grease on the bathroom faucets every few months for a couple of years until the rough surface finally wore smooth. No signs of leakage, so the cartridge seals survived. For the kitchen fixup, we’re going with Moen this time. I’ve had good experiences with them in the past. Not an absolute predictor, but here’s hoping.

    • #6 by Ed on 2016-10-24 - 13:25

      Our squeak may have come from those ceramic blocks rubbing dust / grit against each other, because I’d slobbered penetrating oil atop of the assembly to absolutely no avail. Of course, it only squeaked in operation, not while I twiddled the bare cartridge.

    • #7 by eriklscott on 2016-10-24 - 14:36

      Moen will fail too, but at least they sent me free parts. Twice already. Lowe’s stores have the phone number if you, by some chance I suppose, lose the instruction sheet it comes with. :-) Our city water is brutal – it pretty much dissolves plumbing. I’ve resorted to filtering it before I drink it now, even for coffee.

      • #8 by RCPete on 2016-10-24 - 21:12

        Our well water chemistry reflects the local geography: lime, gypsum and iron (volcanic area that was an inland sea a long time ago). A chemist friend found the only things that will dissolve the iron stains will destroy porcelain glazing. We use tap water for coffee, but the Brita is our drinking water source.

        I try to download instructions; made re-installing the dishwasher and stove less of a hassle. (Note to self: liquid tight flex conduit doesn’t like tight bends, especially if you have to move/force the conduit through those bends.)

        Plumber’s grease isn’t food safe, but it works well on the other moving parts. I got a small tube at Depot.