Omnia Mechanical Group

571 Timpson Place Bronx, NY 10455

Phone: 212-534-2500

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Retrofitting Your Plumbing Fixtures for Touchless Technology

Recent concerns about the spread of COVID-19 have spurred New York City homeowners, apartment superintendents, and commercial property landlords to think about making their bathrooms safer for users by virtue of being more germ-resistant. Switching to touchless technology is a key place to start. Read on to learn more about retrofitting for touchless plumbing fixtures.

What Is Touchless Plumbing Technology?

Types of Touchless Plumbing Fixtures

Touchless plumbing is any type of plumbing fixture that requires no contact to operate. Typically, a sensor triggers the fixture to function by detecting nearby motion. Sometimes a timer is used to shut off the fixture if no motion or presence is detected within a certain time frame.

Common types of touchless plumbing fixtures include:

– Flush toilets and urinals
– Sink faucets
– Soap dispensers
– Paper towel dispensers
– Bathroom hand dryers
– Health club and pool showers

Beyond Commercial Use

You have no doubt seen touchless plumbing technology in public spaces, like restrooms at airports and shopping malls. Toilets that flush automatically and sink faucets that turn on and off by sensing the user’s hands in their vicinity are two of the most popular varieties of touchless plumbing. Before these features were widely available in commercial buildings, they were commonplace in medical facilities, such as hospital patient room sinks and operating scrub suites. They were usually operated by a foot pedal.

As touchless plumbing has so many benefits, fixtures are now available for residential use, as well as commercial and healthcare utilization. Many home and condo owners are installing touchless plumbing fixtures in their bathrooms and kitchens. And, we think that’s a smart idea.

What Are the Benefits of Touchless Technology?

Improved Hygiene

Touchless plumbing fixtures originated in medical institutions. And, they are an ideal way to reduce the spread of germs through contact. Imagine how many people with various health habits touch a public washroom sink. You can then estimate the potential for preventing contamination by keeping hands out of the equation.

Of course, the latest concern in the public health sphere is the spread of COVID-19. But touchless technology reduces the spread of other pathogens as well. These include common bacteria like E. coli and viruses like influenza. This benefits not only public and private bathrooms but also commercial and home kitchens, where germs can come from food items.

When it’s easier and quicker for people to wash their hands, they’re more likely to do so. Shoppers carrying parcels don’t have to worry about setting them down on what may or may not be a clean surface when touchless plumbing is present. Kids often love using automatic faucets and soap dispensers. This encourages good handwashing habits.

Maintenance staff also appreciate touchless fixtures. Fewer hands touch the equipment. So, there is less mess to clean up and less hard-to-remove soap residue accumulating on surfaces.

Conservation of Resources

Touchless plumbing is also advantageous for the conservation of water. Automatic taps only run when a user is detected nearby. As such, they prevent the wasteful running of water during a long handwashing process or a faucet being accidentally left open. (This can also cause overflowing sinks and water damage). Automatic flush toilets similarly help conserve water by eliminating excess flushing.

Can You Retrofit Your Current Plumbing Fixtures?

Easier Than You Think

Retrofitting your current plumbing fixtures is frequently a low-disruption, relatively inexpensive way to bring touchless technology to your bathroom and kitchen – whether in a private residence or a commercial space, like a restaurant kitchen, office workspace, or school. In many cases, this process is quite simple as the technology has improved, along with the quality and durability of touchless equipment.

Issues to Consider

In some cases, an adapter can be added to an existing fixture, such as a kitchen faucet, to turn it from a manual to a touchless one. This type of adaptation works best for private residences and small offices.

Most adapters need to be applied to fixtures that use only one hole where they attach at the sink, however. And, they won’t work with older three-hole faucets. If you have a conventional three-hole sink, you may need to replace the sink before you can install a touchless faucet.

Typically, a battery powers the sensor in the adapter. These batteries are long-lasting. Many can even be USB-charged for months of operation. If the fixture sensor runs on electricity, it requires a close electrical outlet. It may also need the assistance of an electrician to install, in addition to a plumber.

In other instances, the entire fixture may need to be swapped out. It’s often most convenient in this scenario to look for a touchless product made by the same manufacturer as your current fixture.  Connecting it to your existing plumbing may be a bit easier this way.

What Else Should You Know About Retrofitting for Touchless Plumbing Fixtures?

Extra Tips

Every situation is different when it comes to retrofitting for touchless plumbing fixtures. Nevertheless, here are some tips to keep in mind when making the switch:

– Consider the traffic in areas where you are installing touchless taps. In high-traffic areas, look for fixtures that use a wave function to dispense water versus a sensor that merely detects anyone nearby. This will minimize faucets turning on when people are simply walking by the sink. Another option is to look for sensors that are only triggered within a very short distance of the faucet. Some sensors assume that a long physical presence in the sensing zone means vandalism. Then they will cut off operation accordingly.

– Think about the desired flow rate when selecting touchless faucets. In some situations, such as healthcare facilities, a minimum flow rate may be mandated by code. But, in many cases, you can boost your water conservation by selecting more environmentally friendly fixtures.

– When using any timed touchless fixtures, experiment with the amount of time needed to ensure the least amount of waste and the greatest comfort for users. Toilets that flush automatically but too soon are a nuisance. And, hand washers need enough water to properly rinse soap.

– In purchasing touchless fixtures or adapters, price is important. But, it’s not the only factor. Inquire about how much time the piece will take to install, how much water it could potentially save, and how well it will be able to stand up to use in the given placement.

– Touchless plumbing is often best installed at the same time as any other planned bathroom improvements, such as extending partitions for germ containment or adding waterless urinals for water conservation. Don’t forget about soap dispensers and hand dryers for a completely touchless experience.

You may need a few connecting pieces for new adapters or retrofitted products to function properly. Your plumber can assist you with both the installation and the selection of fixtures to minimize the expense and time involved for you.

Want to explore retrofitting your property with touchless plumbing fixtures? Reach out to Sanitary Plumbing, your full-service New York City plumber since 1929. We can help you find the right equipment for your home or building and install it for you with a minimum of fuss. Get in touch to let us know how we can help make your bathroom or kitchen safer and more germ-free.


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