Smart Plumbers are Catching the New Wave of Plumbing Fixtures

No longer a novelty, touchless kitchen faucets, scented toilets, wired showers provide customer comfort and new ways to grow your business
Smart Plumbers are Catching the New Wave of Plumbing Fixtures
Ed Del Grande

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We live in a “plugged-in” society, and technology is changing the way we do business. Plumbing companies now respond directly to email and text service calls. Many plumbers swipe credit cards at the job site, and if you're like me, cellphone photos have taken the place of using my inspection mirror for a better view.

With all this technology now commonly used in our trade, why are so many plumbers hesitant to install “smart” plumbing fixtures and products?

Being a master plumber in my mid-50s, I guess you can say I’m “old school.” While I may be a little stubborn, old school to me does not mean you stop learning. Successful plumbers quickly adapt to new technology and stay on the cutting-edge of this industry.

As a professional speaker as well as a plumber, I often demonstrate new building products to the trades. When I first introduced electronic plumbing fixtures, many plumbers looked at them as a novelty. While the products were fun to check out, most plumbers said: “Let the other guy install it first.” This is the type of “old school” thinking I saw when I was growing up in the industry.

I remember many years ago a lot of plumbers I worked with had the same attitude when products like PVC drainlines and PEX waterlines were introduced. I think of the lost opportunities for those plumbers who had to play catch-up with the “other guy” who saw where the industry was heading and quickly changed with it.

The point I want to get across is: Don’t let fear get in the way of change. Trends are not about a single product. As we know, some new products of the past did not work out very well and may have cost you time and money. What matters in the big picture is being able to spot new trends in our business and catching that wave.

New residential plumbing technology is on the market right now for you to learn about and explore. To get you started I’ve listed a few areas in a home well suited for electronic plumbing fixtures. I have also listed the “smart” product ideas you can try out in those areas. Once you read this list I hope you see that “plugging in” can be as easy as one, two, three!

The first area of a home to install a smart fixture is the kitchen. I have one recommendation that is both beneficial and convenient for the customer: an electronic touchless kitchen faucet complete with a pull-down spray head. Hands-free operation helps with preparing meals and the cleanup. Here are some features to look for when choosing and installing a touchless kitchen faucet:

  • AC-powered with easy plug-in installation. (Note: A GFCI electrical outlet under the sink will be needed.)
  • State-of-the-art sensor activated by a hand wave. (With wave technology, no need to touch any part of the faucet)
  • Built-in, two-function faucet head for washing and spraying. (You still want to have a hardworking kitchen faucet.)

The second place to try electronic upgrades is the bathroom. Here are two ideas for upgrading the existing toilet. Both products can be easily installed in less than an hour.

  • A scented and lighted toilet seat – These battery operated seats help trap odors with a built-in carbon filter and gently discharge a pleasant scent. Also, for evening use, a timed nightlight helps guide your guests to the bowl.
  • Touchless toilet flushing kit – Upgrade most any toilet to a no-touch flushing toilet. Once installed, this battery operated flushing kit requires only a hand wave over the top of the toilet tank to activate the touch-less flushing system. 

A third area for new plumbing technology is the master bathroom. Here are three electronic fixtures that can bring any master bathroom to a new level of comfort.

  • Digital Thermostatic Valves – If you’re installing a new master bathroom or remodeling an existing one, a digital thermostatic tub/shower mixing valve can be the high-tech way to go. Models are available from simple to complex and the “plug-and-play” electrical cord models make going electronic easy. Simply plug the unit into a GFCI electrical outlet.
  • Wireless Speaker Shower Head – Available in standard models, rain head models and even water saving models, you can now enjoy your favorite pod casts/music in the shower. A removable/rechargeable built-in speaker links up with your smart device.
  • Intelligent Toilets – Features can include automatic flushing, motion-activated seat controls, music with mode lighting, full bidet functionality and even dual-flushing settings to save water as well.

For a video companion to this article, you can watch me demonstrate “smart” plumbing fixtures in a TV interview. Visit eddelgrande.com and click “Ed’s Bonus Banner” to view the bonus video below.

About the Author: Ed Del Grande is a three-time master plumber, GBCI LEED green associate and contractor with licenses in pipefitting, fire protection and plumbing. He grew up in a family-owned plumbing business and has 30-plus years of construction experience.

A self-employed contractor and professional comedian he combined his performing and construction talents to became a pioneer in home-improvement television. Starting on HGTV with shows such as Dream Builders and The Fix, Del Grande helped build the DIY Network and HGTVpro.com with shows such as Warehouse Warriors and Ed The Plumber.



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