Hands-free plumbing

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You’re in a public restroom. You simply leave the stall and the automatic flush does its job. You proceed to the sink. You search for faucet handles and a soap pump. No handles, no pumps. Wave your hand in front of the sensor to acquire soap and water. You go to dry your hands. Again, no handle. Wave to the paper towel dispenser and head out the door. You’ve touched nothing other than yourself and the bathroom door! Technology has morphed the basic task of a bathroom visit into a hands-free, sensor-waving user experience.

Whether you like it or not, hands-free technology is here to stay in the plumbing world. Delta has been selling hands-free kitchen faucets since 2008. Commercial flush toilets have been popular since the early 1990s. Now, Kohler and Delta released their newest hands-free flushing concept for your home toilet. There’s no doubt that hands-free plumbing technology has infiltrated our world. However, there is speculation and concern if it’s a superior choice to “the old fashioned way.”

From a scientific perspective, studies have been conducted since the inception of hands-free plumbing technology. The American Society of Healthcare Engineers conducted a study and found that there was a higher proportion of bacteria in hands-free plumbing fixtures. They chalked it up to germs hiding in the intricate parts that comprise the high-tech faucets.

An increased rate of bacteria does not deter commercial sites from installing these fixtures as the benefits outweigh the downfalls. Hands-free plumbing fixtures use less water and electricity. New hands-free residential kitchen faucets have become very popular in the market. They reduce cross contamination and conserve water. Hands-free technology, clearly, has a market in the industry.

Commercial hands-free technology has been around for decades. Sensors, typically battery operated, will corrode if not properly maintained and are the most common repair issue. Parts are readily available and less expensive than they were when the technology first hit the market. Residential hand-free technology is a different beast. These newer technologies require complicated parts and computer functions to operate. Since the technology is so new, parts can be expensive and hard to locate.

Hands-free technology possesses many positive attributes like water and energy conservation, which translates to money savings. In addition, the hands-free process feels cleaner, greener and smarter. Who doesn’t love saving money and feeling good? Hands-free technology, in all it’s glory, is here to stay.

If you have any questions about hands-free plumbing technology you can contact Allie directly at allie@mrplumber.

Allie Perez is director of operations, Mr. Plumber / Mr. AC, San Antonio (http://www.mrplumbersa.com). Her interesting viewpoints on the trades can be found on her blog at http://www.mrplumbersa.com/blog. She also is founder of Texas Women in the Trades (TWIT). Visit texaswomenintrades.com.

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