Can you imagine a bathtub without a mixer? It turns out that there are such people. Several years ago, the author of this article was visiting the UK. The flight turned out to be difficult, there was a serious hitch at the customs at the airport, and we managed to get to the place very late. The desire to wash off the road dust overpowered even the feeling of hunger, and immediately upon arrival I went to take a bath. The hospitable hosts filled it with warm water, and I blissfully plunged into the fragrant foam. When it came time to rinse myself, I stared with some confusion at the two taps located along the edges of the bath – one was with hot water, the other with cold, there was no mixer. Stirring water in a ladle, I realized the importance of the mixer for my comfort.
It still remains a mystery to me why in England I have come across a lot of bathrooms in which a mixer is not installed. After all, there are a huge number of all kinds of mixers on the plumbing market. The only problem seems to be choosing the right model. Here you need to think carefully so as not to make a mistake and choose the mixer that best meets your specific requirements. And for this you need to figure out what modern mixers are..
The main parameters of various types of mixers
When choosing a mixer, you will have to focus on many indicators. Each of them should be treated with increased attention, because only a combination of qualities will provide the mixer with durability and reliability. So, the main parameters that you need to pay attention to are:
- mixer design (single-lever, two-valve, mixer with thermostat)
- the purpose of the mixer (bath, sink, sink, shower)
- faucet type and design (recessed, center, wall-mounted, long, short or flexible spout, etc.)
- material of which the mixer is made
Let’s try to clarify each item on this list..
Structurally, all mixers on the market today are divided into three types. Single Lever Mixers– this is perhaps the most relevant type of mixers on the modern plumbing market. Single-lever or mono-command, articulated mixer allows you to regulate the temperature and water pressure by turning the lever to the right-left and up-down.
Depending on the type of shut-off valve, single-lever mixers are divided into two types:
The shut-off valve of the single-lever ball mixer is a hollow stainless steel ball located in a special replaceable cartridge where hot and cold water flows. The shut-off valve has three openings: two for the inlet of cold and hot water and one outlet for the mixed water jet. By turning the ball with a lever, we change the size of the inlets in one direction or another, thereby changing the ratio of hot and cold water, as well as the pressure.
Ceramic single-lever mixers differ from ball mixers in the shape and material of the shut-off valve. Here it is represented by two discs made of cermet or less often of stainless steel. The discs are perfectly matched to each other and have special holes through which hot and cold water flows into the spout in one ratio or another. By turning the discs with the movement of the lever, we either align these holes, or partially or completely block them. There are also ceramic mixers with three plates. This design allows them to be used for water supply networks with a weak water pressure..
Due to the special manufacturing technology, as well as the fact that the operation of single-lever mixers does not depend on the wear of the sealing gaskets, they are considered the most reliable. However, they have a weak point – single-lever mixers can be disabled by coarse impurities in the water. Since the elements of the locking device must fit perfectly tightly to each other, even a small grain of sand, falling between them, will lead to leakage. Therefore, deciding to install a single-lever mixer in your bathroom, consider installing filters on the supply pipes. By the way, it is also advisable to replace old pipes..
Two-valve mixershave been known to us for a long time. Invented back in the 19th century, they are still popular today. Their main advantage is simplicity of design. Unlike single-lever mixers, the locking elements of two-valve mixers are not located in a special mixing unit, but in the valves. The mixing of hot and cold water takes place directly in the spout. Locking elements of two types can be used in the valve mixers:
- elastic pad
- ceramic plates
The two-valve mixer of the first type is a reciprocating crane box with an elastic gasket. The principle of operation of such a mixer is that the crane box closes the hole through which water enters the spout. There is a fundamental difference between two-valve mixers of domestic production and imported ones. In imported models of mixers, the gasket is progressively pressed against the base of the crane follower, while in domestic mixers, this task is still carried out by rotation. The friction that occurs in this case increases the wear on the gasket. Although there is no need for frequent replacement of gaskets in modern mixers. They are made with the addition of silicone, which makes such gaskets very wear-resistant and durable..
The mixer with ceramic valves is designed according to the same principle as the ceramic single-lever mixer – the amount of hot and cold water is regulated by aligning the holes on the ceramic plates.
Two-valve mixers are usually much cheaper than single-lever mixers. However, their service life is also shorter. In operation, two-valve mixers are less convenient, since in order to turn on and adjust the water, you must use both hands. If we compare the two types of two-valve faucets, then faucets with a ceramic valve make it easier to adjust the water temperature and last longer than faucets with rubber gaskets. However, let me remind you that the latter is true only under the condition that the water entering the mixer is cleaned of mechanical impurities.
The most modern and high-tech option is, perhaps, thermostatic mixer. No heating of water occurs in this mixer. Moreover, there are no electronic or electrical elements in it. The mixing of hot and cold water in thermostatic mixers occurs due to the mechanical operation of the valves. However, thermostatically controlled mixers are fundamentally different from single-lever and two-valve mixers. Firstly, the two knobs of the thermostatic mixer each have their own purpose: by turning one of them, we adjust the water temperature, the second – the pressure.
In addition, each of the handles is equipped with a limit button, by pressing which you can set a constant pressure and temperature. The next time you turn it on, you will not need to adjust anything – the settings will be saved. The water temperature is regulated by automatic mixing of hot and cold water – the mixer automatically opens more or less hot and cold water. At the same time, the desired temperature is adjusted almost instantly – in 1-2 seconds. If the pressure of hot or cold water in the pipe weakens completely for any reason, the mixer will completely shut off the water. Despite the convenience of such thermostatic mixers, they are not yet ubiquitous. The main reason for this is the rather high cost..
A mixer is needed everywhere: in the kitchen, in the bathroom, and in the shower stall. Depending on where the mixer will be installed, its appearance depends. A kitchen mixer, first of all, must provide the ability to use the entire sink area and freely place even tall dishes under the tap. Therefore, faucets used for kitchen sinks usually have a long and high spout. Some faucet models may have a pull-out spout or flexible extension hose..
Bathroom taps are much more diverse. They can be mounted on the edge of the bathtub (for bathtubs with wide sides) or on the wall. Built-in mixers are good – all the technical elements of such mixers are hidden in a special niche in the wall, and only a panel with handles and a spout are brought out. Typically, bath mixers are designed with a low spout, which can be either movable or fixed. It is advisable to install a separate mixer for each plumbing unit in the bathroom. If the bathroom does not have a separate shower stall, you can use one mixer for the bath and shower and the other for the sink. Bath taps are designed for multiple holes: for bath filling, for hand shower, etc..
The so-called cascade mixers are very beautiful. They have a wide spout from which water flows in a stream. From a technical point of view, cascade mixers are no different from conventional mixers, except that their throughput is significantly higher. Therefore, cascade mixers can quickly fill large bathtubs and sinks. In addition, these mixers look very nice. However, their price is quite high. Therefore, for now, cascade mixers are, for the most part, elite plumbing..
How to choose a mixer?
So, what do you need a mixer for, you figured it out. We have also decided on how it should look. What else to look for when choosing a mixer? Of course, on the material from which the mixer is made. Traditionally, the body of faucets is made of brass, after which it is nickel-plated and chrome-plated. Mixers without chromium may also come across, but this is not a very hygienic option, since in this case, given the high local humidity, fungi and microorganisms can develop on the mixer. Handles and showerheads can be made of plastic and are certainly less reliable..
From a design point of view, the mixer can be matched to any bathroom style. Faucets can be styled in wood or marble. Exclusive models can be made of precious metals or be inlaid with precious stones. Here, as they say, the taste and color … And the wallet, of course. Domestic and foreign manufacturers of sanitary ware offer the widest range of mixers that can meet the most varied requirements. It is probably not possible to list all the brands. However, the leading manufacturers can be mentioned here. Among European companies, they enjoy well-deserved fame Damixa(Denmark), Grohe(Germany), Ideal Standard(Germany), Osgard(Sweden), Roddex(Germany). Among the Russian companies engaged in the plumbing market, one should mention “Arkon“,”Sanlit-T“,”Santarm“,”Santechpribor“.
Finally, an important factor when choosing a mixer is its price. Of course, saving a certain amount of money is always nice. But in the case of a mixer, you need to think twice before purchasing a cheap model. The fact is that such savings can further result in serious repair costs, partial or even complete replacement of the mixer. In addition, if you have a water consumption meter installed, a leaking tap can significantly increase its performance. So the choice of a mixer must be approached with all seriousness, so as not to sell too cheap and not regret your choice in the future..
© Natalia Vilyuma, specially for RMNT.ru