26th Dec, 2017

On the design of water taps

Water taps are great right? You approach them, demand for clean water and (given they are connected to a water pipe) they just give you some. Not too long ago, that was a task that took people half their days. Heck, even today in some countries thats the case.
The design of water taps is more or less the same across all the various models you can buy. Sure, they have subtle changes, but the vast majority of them has some kind of control atop with which you can control the the amount and (in the most cases) temperature of the water.
It never occurred to me to even think about that design. Thats just the way it ever was. I just accepted it as perfect. If it works for so many people across so many countries for such a long time, water taps surely must be a solved problem.

A few days ago, I watched this video about a guy who lives in an old silo with his daughter (which is, by the way, pretty cool). At one point in the video, he demonstrates his water tap, which is controlled with feet. He says, he’s wasting a lot less water this way, and since the house is not connected to the grid, they need to be mindful about the amount of water they use.
And he’s definitely right. When I’m washing my hands, while applying soap, the water is running for a second or two, when it really doesn’t have to be. This might not be a huge amount of water, but it sure will add up over time.

Having foot controls on a water tap seems to be a huge improvement. So why are almost none of the water taps you see controlled by foot? A quick google search did not yield many results. There is one entry on quora that asks this exact question. Some people do have some valid points there.
For example, you cannot control the amount an temperature of water with a basic foot control. While that is true, I’m sure there are some ways to work around this and make such controls possible. Another valid point is that people that cannot use their feet for any reason may not be able to control the tap that way.
It seems like a simple foot control is not the best solution for the problem, but neither is the current design of water taps.

What I’m going for with this post is not to challenge the way water taps are designed today (well, maybe a little), but to just point out how things do not necessarily need to be “right” just because they have always been that way. I may have used water taps as they are today for my entire live, but show me a solution to get fresh water that is just as good and leads to 50% water savings for a reasonable price and you'll most likely have a new customer.

© 2024 Chris Jarling