Reducing water waste in the home

December 7, 2020News

Water conservation is becoming a critical part of daily life around the world. As populations grow, it is becoming more important than ever to manage freshwater use to ensure a stable supply for everyone going into the future. While the vast majority of water use in the United States comes from power generation and agriculture, reducing water waste in the home is one way we can do our part to help manage our supply. Reducing water waste in the home is not only easy to do, but can save a significant amount of money over time.

 

Breakdown of residential water use

According to the EPA, across the United States, a full 70% of residential water use takes place inside the home with only 30% used for exterior purposes.

Residential water use infographic

12% of indoor use is leakage!

Shockingly, the EPA finds that a full 12% of all water used inside the house is from leaks. That means the average home in the United States is wasting nearly 8.5% of their overall water bill on leaks that could be causing further damage to the structure of their home.

Toilets

Toilets are one of the most common locations where leaks might be wasting your water and money. Thankfully they are incredibly easy to detect and almost as easy to fix! To determine if your toilet is leaking, just listen to it for a few minutes. The toilet has a leak if the water runs to refill the flush tank without the toilet being flushed. These leaks are typically due to a poor seal of the flapper valve against the bottom of the tank.

 

To fix this, first ensure that the flush chain is not too tight and preventing your flapper from closing all the way. If that is not the case, visually inspect the flapper. If it looks torn or deformed, your best bet is to replace it. These are cheap parts that are typically available at any local hardware store.

Faucets

Leaking faucets are another common issue, particularly with older compression style faucets. You can fix compression faucets by tightening the faucet down further or by replacing the compression stem. A plumber can hone eroded valve seats smooth or just replace the entire faucet depending on cost.

 

Cartridge style faucets are very easy to repair, simply pull the existing cartridge out and go to your local hardware store and look for a replacement!

Other ways to reduce water waste in the home

Install low-flow fixtures

Low-flow fixtures reduce the amount of water they allow to flow through them by restricting flow. You can often convert a normal faucet to low-flow by replacing the aerator with a low-flow model. Low-flow shower heads also go a long way to reducing water, as showers contribute to nearly 20% of all water use in the home and lower flow is not an issue with a properly designed shower head.

 

Installing low-flow toilets can be costly, particularly if there is nothing else wrong with your toilet. You can however, convert an older toilet to lower flow by installing a volume reduction sleeve in the tank. These sleeves are glued into the existing tank to reduce the volume of water used in a flush. They work quite well and can make a significant improvement in water use per flush.

Go hands-free!

Hands-free faucets can a great way to realize water savings in the home. They make it easy to use the faucet in short bursts while washing hands or rinsing dishes. When not using hands-free faucets it can be frustrating to turn the water on and off every time you want to use it. If your hands are full or dirty the last thing you want to do is touch your faucet. Hands-free faucets are perfect for situations where short intervals of water flow are preferred. Tapmaster even has models that allow for hands-free continuous flow for when you want to run the water while filling a basin or saucepan.

Saving water in your yard

Lawn and garden irrigation is another major place where water waste occurs. There are a number of ways to reduce outdoor water use in the home that can have large impacts, particularly in areas where people have large yards in hot climates.

Pick when you water

Choosing the correct time to water your garden or lawn. Experts tend to agree that watering your lawn and garden early in the morning before the sun rises is the best time for irrigation. It allows for the water to soak into the soil before the sun comes out and evaporates it. Experts also suggest irrigation in the evening rather than during the day. However sources indicate that watering at night carries a higher likelihood of moss, lichen or mold buildup occurring. This occurs because the excess water sits overnight rather than being evaporated like it would during the day. This is a small risk and is still preferable to watering at high-noon.

Convert to low maintenance landscaping

Converting outdoor gardens and lawns to low-water plants can be another way to significantly reduce exterior water use. Common ways to do this are replacing grass with gravel, sand, mulch or clover. Adding mulch to flower beds and vegetable gardens also reduces evaporative effects on the soil.

How to prevent cross-contamination at home or work

December 1, 2020News

What cross-contamination is and what it means for the average person

Cross-contamination is one of the leading causes of food-borne illnesses in North America. While the meaning of the term may not be initially apparent, it is quite simply the transferring of contamination from one surface to another. In this post we want to go over how to prevent cross-contamination in your home or workplace.

With the advent of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the need for proper hand hygiene has become more apparent in every situation. Preventing recontamination after washing hands is key to maintaining good hand hygiene and regardless of where you are, the steps for preventing cross-contamination are the same.

Where cross-contamination is expected

Most people intuitively know that cross-contamination happens at the faucet and the door handle to a washroom. This is easy because we are all aware that we need to wash our hands before and after handling food as well as after going to the washroom. We are intuitively aware that the faucet handle has been touched by unwashed hands, either ours or those of other people. Door handles into and out of washrooms are also suspect as we all know – gross as it is – that many people forget or neglect to wash their hands after using the facilities.

In these areas we may KNOW that cross contamination is a high possibility, but how do we go about controlling for it?

Kitchen faucet

Our own kitchen faucets are a major cause for food poisoning, particularly when we are working with raw meat. There are a number of ways to reduce the chances of cross-contamination, each with their strengths and drawbacks.

Preventing contamination at the faucet

Paper towel

The simplest way to prevent cross contamination at the kitchen faucet is to use a towel of some sort to shut off the faucet after using it. It is important to note that the towel itself is subject to cross-contamination if it has not been washed or replaced between uses.

Using faucet handle with paper towel

 

Another way to help prevent cross-contamination from food is to use food-grade gloves when handling raw food. While using gloves may seem simple, it is important to understand how to prevent contamination when removing them. The CDC has a simple and great tutorial on how to remove (doff) gloves properly.

Gloves become tedious and wasteful in the average home as they are typically single-use and cannot be reused. They are typically better suited to commercial kitchens where the user is often preparing large quantities of food prior to washing up between tasks.

Washing the faucet

It has also been suggested that a person should wash their hands and leave a surplus of water and soap to wash the handle prior to shutting off the flow. This is better than not trying any preventative measures to begin with, but can lead to soap scum buildup on the faucet handle. It may also breed more bacteria in areas that are hard to clean since a moist environment is ideal for bacterial growth.

Hands-free faucets help reduce cross-contamination

All of the above methods can be effective in reducing the risk of cross-contamination but can contribute to waste. Single-use items like paper towel and gloves not only waste material but also money. Using excess water to prevent touching the faucet is also wasteful.

There are many hands-free solutions on the market including our own Tapmaster line of products. Regardless of the hands-free solution you choose they all make it easier to prevent cross-contamination. Hands-free faucets also eliminate the material and water waste of gloves and towels. They also make it easy to activate the water flow without touching the faucet. This makes it possible to use the water for shorter intervals saving water and keeping faucets clean. Eliminating the need to the faucet handle before and after washing your hands significantly reduces the chance of contamination.

Other common, but less intuitive areas where cross-contamination can occur

Other surfaces that are common vectors for contamination include:

  • Light switches; light switches are some of the worst surfaces for contamination as they are infrequently cleaned and frequently used.
  • Door handles; like light switches, door handles are often used without thought and are often rarely cleaned.
  • Towels and washcloths; towels are breeding grounds for bacteria. Any small amount of bacteria that is transferred to them has a tendency to grow and multiply over time.
  • Kitchen sponges; these little bacterial farms are often the single most filthy thing in a kitchen. Keep them clean or get rid of them!

While it is nearly impossible to prevent any form of cross-contamination, risks can be severely mitigated by frequent handwashing. The amount of contamination transfer from any surface to your hands and back is small, but it builds over time. Frequent handwashing keeps the viral or bacterial count low enough that they won’t cause a problem.

If you have any other suggestions or comments, please don’t hesitate to send us a message through our contact page or via Twitter or Facebook! We love interacting with our customers and the general public to promote sustainable and effective hand-hygiene practices.

Top 5 reasons to use hands-free faucets

November 26, 2020News, Home/Consumer

There are a whole host of reasons people decide they want to use hands-free faucets. At Tapmaster we are uniquely passionate about them since that is our business. But regardless of the hands-free system you decide on there are a number of common key benefits. Check out our short video on the top 5 reasons to install hands-free faucets in your home below or read the article. Remember to comment or send us a tweet at @TapMasterInc or follow us on Facebook.

1. Hygiene

The main reason we developed our product line was to meet the needs of dentists looking for a more hygienic way to operate their faucets while interacting with their patients. We were approached by a number dentists local to us looking for a good solution that integrated well with their practice, and since dentists are used to using their equipment via foot pedals it was a natural progression.

Numerous studies have shown that the faucet is one of – if not the top – places where cross-contamination occurs. Cross-contamination is simply the accidental transfer of bacteria of viruses from one surface to another.

This is not surprising as the faucet is one of the key touch points any time you handle food, go to the washroom or work with something dirty. With a traditional faucet you have to touch the handle to turn it on before you can wash your hands, and they you have to touch that same faucet handle after your hands have been washed.

Hands-free faucets of any variety make it easier to avoid that added point of contamination, though it is possible to minimize the risk without.

2. Convenience

After we started using our hands free faucets we started to realize how convenient they are to use. Remember, we originally designed our faucets controllers to meet the hygiene needs of dentists and doctors – we didn’t really think of them as a convenience item. But, in testing we installed them on our own home faucets and after a little while we realized we had begun to rely on them.

There are a lot of things that we take for granted with any hands-free faucet solution now that we’ve been using them in one variety or another for almost 28 years.

  • It is so much easier to rinse dishes and produce when you have both hands free.
  • We rarely have to clean our faucet handle to keep it looking clean

3. Water savings

This is a hotly debated topic in the industry. Hands-free faucet control systems can be used to help reduce water waste. However, unlike low-flow fixtures the amount of water saved depends greatly on use patterns and the underlying technology associated with the hands-free system.

At Tapmaster we like to group hands-free systems into two broad categories when it comes to water savings, Positive control and Passive control:

  • Positive control is our term for hands free systems that put the user in direct control over the water flow. These are systems like the Delta Touch2.0 and our own Tapmaster line of products. They rely on direct user input to activate the water flow and immediately stop when the user tells them to stop.
  • Passive control is our term for faucet controllers that are not directly controlled by the user. Some examples are sensor based systems, Delta Voice faucets and metered water systems. Sensor faucets are activated by either ultrasonic or infrared detection of the user’s hands. There is inherent noise in those signals so they have a minimum run-time to prevent rapid cycling of the valve. Some models are better at reacting quickly to a water-off condition without problems but none have managed to overcome the issue entirely.

4. Fun factor

If you are anything like us, it is fun to use gadgets. Those gadgets are even more fun when they serve a useful and practical purpose. Hands-free faucets really are fun to play with, when people come over to my house they inevitably make a comment on how neat the faucet controllers are. Particularly since they are so intuitive to use. I still get enjoy when people see me use the faucet and can’t immediately figure out how I did it. You can almost see them wanting to ask, but holding back because they aren’t sure if they missed something.

5. Fixes a leaky faucet

This one is mainly true for retrofit systems like Tapmaster. If you know you want hands-free control, a retrofit system like Tapmaster can solve that pesky drip without having to replace the faucet or cartridge first. This may not be a big cost savings, but I’ve never complained when a product I purchase solves two problems instead of one!

Let us know why you think you need hands-free faucet controls in your home or business. We love engaging with our customers and coming up with unique solutions to bring hands-free faucets to the masses!

Jenny from New Mexico says:

November 17, 2020Home/Consumer

We ordered our original 1750 in the spring of 2001 on our kitchen sink as part of a major kitchen remodel. I had read about it on the GardenWeb website (which may now be Houzz). Those who had Tapmaster raved about it, and it was one of the two “splurges” that I made that I LOVE almost 20 years later. We have more fun messing with children who come to our house about our “magic” faucet. The fact that we can have chicken juices on our hands and can turn on the water (and now we can be even more safe about touching surfaces during this time of COVID19) without touching the faucet is such a benefit.

We decided NOT to order the pilot valve kit, and just to replace the whole thing. We plan on only being in this house for three more years, but it will be our gift to the next owners. AND we are planning on building a new house, and it goes without saying that we will put in a new Tapmaster. We love the 1750 for the fact that the kickplate really doesn’t show. We may finally upgrade to putting additional ones in the new house’s bathrooms, because we all love it so much.

Thank you,

Jenny from New Mexico

Susan from Alberta says:

November 17, 2020Home/Consumer

We have had the extreme pleasure of being Tapmaster customers for over 15 years. We started with installing the Tapmaster in our Calgary home kitchen and bathroom, then 4 years ago also installed them in our two bathrooms and kitchen when renovating our Palm Springs CA home. We cannot imagine using our taps without a Tapmaster installed. So much so that in adding a simple powder room/ 1/2 bath to our home in Calgary it was a no brainer that we would also be installing another Tapmaster. This system is easy to install and even easier to use, not to mention during these times of constant hand washing and concern for bacterial transmission – what a perfect way to lessen the transmission with less touching. We want to thank you for your forward thinking and continued innovative design of the Tapmaster – you are truly “Ahead of the Curve” on this!! Susan – See on our Facebook page

Designing for hand hygiene at the Seraph-McSparren Pediatric Inpatient Center

August 27, 2020Medical, Commercial/Industrial

Tapmaster® helps keep kids safe and have fun while they visit the hospital!

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the forefront an acute awareness of infection control in building design, both in public spaces as well as our personal spaces like homes and offices. Infection prevention and control experts consistently advise that improved hand hygiene is critical in maintaining a safe and sanitary environment. However, handwashing is not as simple as it would seem at first blush. The faucet itself is a major infection vector unless careful precautions are taken. The obvious answer to increasing the effectiveness of hand washing is by reducing the danger of being re-contaminated by the faucet through hands-free operation.

 

When the Lancaster General Hospital decided to design their new Seraph-McSparren Pediatric Inpatient Center, they wanted to create an engaging and uplifting space for patients and their families. Being a hospital, infection control is a key consideration in the design of any new unit. They also required that the products involved with the project had proven track records for exceptional reliability and effectiveness. One of the many showpieces of design in the new pediatric waiting area is a custom designed washbasin intended to help promote hand washing for the children and families as they visit the unit. The project architecture firm, Stantec Architecture and Engineering LLC approached Tapmaster Incorporated to co-develop a custom hands-free solution for this washbasin. Tapmaster® provides faucet control solutions that are an elegant and different take on hands-free operation. Rather than relying on electromechanical valves and sensors they operate entirely on water pressure. Tapmaster® faucet controllers do not need batteries or electrical connections of any kind, and are compatible with any faucet or spout a designer chooses to use. This flexibility of design, combined with industry leading durability and reliability allowed Tapmaster Incorporated to work with Stantec to design a completely custom plumbing solution that made it possible for multiple kids to use the wash basin simultaneously while also providing easy operation for individuals in wheelchairs.

 

 

Tapmaster® products are the best-selling and most requested hands-free faucet control solution in the north American dental market where they frequently work with major industry OEM clients to create custom applications to work with bespoke millwork and cabinetry. Recently Mt. Sinai hospital in Toronto has flat-specified Tapmaster products to replace all manual and electronic sensor faucets in the Sinai Health region after a pilot project showed significant improvements in operational effectiveness compared to electronic faucets from other major competitors. For more information on this project visit https://www.tapmaster.ca/.

 

The key feature that sets Tapmaster® products apart from other hands-free solutions on the market is the way by which they operate. Driven only by water pressure, Tapmaster® products do not require electronics, batteries, or mechanical linkages. They have no sliding or rotating seals of any kind which allows them to withstand in excess of 5 million operation cycles with no detectable sign of wear or reduced function. Tapmaster products are also 100% compliant with California Prop 65 low-lead requirements and are approved for sale to childcare and medical centers within California.

Next steps

See our solutions: tapmaster.ca
Call us toll free: 1-800-791-8117
Email us: info@tapmaster.ca
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