Derrick Muir, Operations Supervisor, Building Services at Toronto’s Mount Sinai Hospital thinks so highly of Tapmaster® hands-free faucet activators (also known as controllers), he’s recommending them to other hospitals.
“It’s an awesome, back-to-basics product,” he says, adding, with a smile, that he believes the installed activators will last another 10 years, until he retires. “I don’t think about them once they’re in.”
Muir was there when the first unit was installed as a trial in the Mt Sinai Emergency Room in 2013. Since that time, “that original Emergency Room activator has been used at least every 15 minutes, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” he says.
And since then, Mt Sinai has installed approximately 900 Tapmaster® hands-free faucet activators and flat-specified the brand for ongoing construction and renovations.
That will likely mean several hundred additional units, he says. The current Renew Sinai initiative is the largest and most ambitious redevelopment in Mt Sinai’s history. Many important facilities will be completely redesigned and rebuilt by the end of 2022. The work will include more than 140 distinct projects on 20 floors and about 300,000 square feet of hospital space. That’s the equivalent of five football fields!
During our recent Zoom call with Muir, we also asked him: “Would you say Mt Sinai medical staff believes Tapmaster® controllers slow the spread of infection?”
Muir’s response: “One hundred percent!”
Asked about sensor faucets (the competition), Muir says they’ve had to be replaced numerous times. Cleaners often damaged them, whereas Tapmaster® activators “show no wear and tear.”
Muir also likes that Tapmaster® activators require no electricity. They’ve “held strong through power outages” and Mt Sinai (a Jewish healthcare facility) does not use electricity on the Sabbath.
“I recommended Tapmaster® to two other facilities: Sunnybrook and Lakeridge in Oshawa,” Muir says, adding “It’s low maintenance, which is low cost. It has been installed in the public washrooms and on drinking fountains as well. It lasts longer. The new spaces throughout the Mt Sinai hospital system are all Tapmaster®. And no other manufacturer gives me service like Tapmaster®.”
Tapmaster® has been manufacturing our products in-house in Alberta since we started up in 1993. Over the years we’ve grown from a small garage-based operation in Calgary to a larger operation in the MD of Rocky View. As of March 2021 we are excited to be moving into a new location within the city of Calgary. This move allows us the space and resources to increase our production even further. Moving back into the city also affords us a number of other tangible and intangible advantages that we did not have while operating outside the city. We have a better selection of telecommunications providers, close access to transit for our staff and reduced costs for things like shipping providers.
Over the years we have looked at overseas manufacturing to reduce costs as well as moving to other provinces. But every time we explored other options it remained apparent that keeping our operations in Alberta made the most sense for us.
Tapmaster® prides itself on our high-quality products that lead to extremely high customer satisfaction. Much of our quality comes from elegant and effective design choices. However, the care our staff put into building every single Tapmaster® product plays an even bigger role in our success. Tapmaster® may seem like a simple device, but it requires extremely tight tolerances and attention to detail to ensure it performs to our standards. Every valve assembly is hand-built and tested to find any minor performance abnormalities before they are shipped. That’s right, we test every single valve before it leaves the factory! This kind of individual care and attention is hard to foster when manufacturing overseas in a contract factory.
Further to that, Alberta is our home. We have countless friends and family here and feel a great sense of pride knowing that Tapmaster® products are shipped worldwide bringing money directly into our home economy.
It is no secret that the Alberta economy has been hit with significant challenges over the last few years. The drop in oil and gas prices as well as the global pandemic have hit us hard. Businesses across the province are struggling with the impacts of reduced exports and tour
ism. Manufacturers like Tapmaster® provide an alternate way to bring much-needed cash into the Canadian and Albertan economies. Alberta is an extremely business-friendly province with great access to local suppliers and an aggressive tax advantage.
Supply chain management
One thing we have always been weary of when considering offshore manufacturing was disruptions in the supply chain. Disruptions in intercontinental shipping can occur for many reasons ranging from weather to geopolitical challenges and public health crises. Even now, many companies are experiencing major supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19. Where possible we source our raw materials and within North America. We also keep the vast majority of our suppliers within Alberta. This has allowed us to completely avoid disruption in our ability to produce and sell products through the pandemic.
Rapid prototyping and development
We design our products in the same building we manufacture them. This makes it easy for us to make on-the-fly production improvements. In the time it takes to complete one CNC part-run we can make changes to the CNC program and implement them on the next production batch. This close communication between the designer and the machinist optimizes our product for both improved quality and production speed.
Manufacturing in-house also allows us to randomly pull completed assemblies for full analysis and testing. If there are any issues that might have gone unnoticed in production we can catch them early before they become a problem. This includes things like minor tooling wear and chemical variations in diaphragm materials.
All of those are just some of the reasons we choose to keep manufacturing in Canada. There are plenty of other advantages that are harder to quantify, as well as a few disadvantages. Until recently, commercial real-estate in Calgary was both hard to come-by and could be quite expensive. Calgary has also not been a traditionally manufacturing focused city. These things are starting to change, and we see precision manufacturing operations such as ourselves thriving in Alberta going forward. There are many skilled engineers, technologists, machinists etc. in the province just waiting to get started on a new and exciting project.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!