How to use sinks with separate hot/cold taps?

  • I just traveled to Ireland. I was amazed to find that water sinks (at home, restaurants and public) have separate taps for hot and cold water.

    If you use only the cold water, your hands freeze. If you use only hot water, your hands burn.

    How do people use it? Is there tool at plumber shops to mix both of them (for my accommodation)?

    Sink with separate hot/cold taps

    How is this a travel question?

    Tool to mix them? Sounds like a great product idea!

    You think that's messed up... I've been to apartments in Israel where the toilet had no tank... you need to turn a valve to start flushing, then turn it back to stop the flushing. It was cheaper for the landlord to install and maintain and the tenants tolerated it.

    For a historical perspective, consider the pre-plumbing washbasin. You pour water in it, use the water for washing, then dump it. So having a way to draw hot & cold water directly in to the basin was a huge improvement! Washing your hands in running water came along much later.

    I think this is an appropriate question or topic for travel.se. It's something that travellers might encounter around the world, and hence advice on this would be benefitial for travellers.

    Great question! When I stumbled into these weird things in the UK, my reaction was "WTF? Worst usability ever." You either get too hot or cold water, and the taps were too far apart to use both simultaneously...

    @Andra: I'd say it's a travel question in the same way as questions about electrical adapters

    So in what countries are separate taps unknown? Egypt, from the OP's location?

    @Yousf If either taps give you the extreme of what you desire, then surely logic kicks in at some point.

    My problem in the UK was not so much the dual taps -- those are pretty common around the world -- but the huge variety of not-really-working mixer taps. In one home there was one where you could adjust the temperature but not the pressure: you had a choice of blasting off your skin with cold, warm or hot water. In another, a choice between freezing cold and boiling hot (and about half a millimeter of just-slightly-too-hot in between).

    I was reminded of this question when I saw Tom Scott's video explaining *why* this is so common in Britain.

    @e100 I've only ever seen separate taps in the UK, but I've travelled mostly in developed countries in Europe, North America, and Asia, but not much in Commonwealth countries apart from Canada (where I've never seen separate taps).

  • Grzenio

    Grzenio Correct answer

    9 years ago

    I had the same problem after arriving to the UK. There are two basic techniques:

    1. Plug the sink, pour the water and wash yourself in this water. I think this was how it was meant to be used when this system was first introduced years ago. You can mix it in any other container as well, depending on your needs. One potential downside to this method is that if the sink is not very clean you don't exactly want to be letting the presumably clean water sit in the basin.
    2. Open both taps and move your hands quickly between both taps. If you do it quickly enough you almost get the water mixed :)

    Why did these nations decide to use this system and why haven't they replaced it with mixer taps is a mystery to me.

    You don't waste water if you plug the sink. I think of it as a smart design choice for saving the Earth.

    I didn't like this "fill the sink, and wash your hand", sinks are not that clean!

    I will practice more on "move you hands quickly". Hopefully I can be fast enough :)

    @mouviciel, the thing is you can do the same thing with a mixer tap. And many people use option (2) mentioned above, which wastes by far the most water.

    Why do they use it? Probably a combination of resistance to change and willingness of the public to tolerate inconvenience. I'm sure the 2 tap system is cheaper so if there's no motivation to spend more money they won't.

    @JoelFan: "tolerate inconvenience" -- are you kidding me? Has it ever crossed your mind that people may not even find it inconvenient? I live in a country where both kinds of sinks are very common, and I don't find either one any more incovenient than the other.

    Why would you consider sinks unclean? This is an interesting cultural difference.

    @balpha: If you have been accustomed to running hot water or bathroom in your home, wouldn't you call it "inconvenient" if you go to to a place with an outhouse? But for the people living there, it sure won't be inconvenient (or they would have changed it), because they are used to it, or don't have anything to compare to.

    @balpha... I'm not getting how you could find 2 taps no less convenient... you must not wash your hands that often or wash them thouroughly

    They didn't replace them when mixer taps came out because mixer taps were expensive when they came out. They didn't replace them when the prices got lower because plumbers are expensive. They didn't replace them themselves because by law a plumber has to do it or they just don't want to mess up their plumbing and they're used to the old separate taps.

    @hippietrail, it doesn't explain why in many new developments they would still install separate taps. And today the price difference between mixer and separate taps in negligible comparing to plumber's fees.

    @Grzenio: Maybe some places are just more conservative and resistant to new ideas, even good ones?

    Bloomsbury Theatre amuses me with a sign saying BEWARE THE VERY HOT WATER and old school taps. Top tip: Get in there early before the pipes are up to temperature.

    @balpha I agree with your comments totally. If people find washing with a 2 tap system problematic, I dredd to think what other problems they have encountered in life.

    or just get used to washing your hands and face with cold water rather than lukewarm :)

    I was also surprised when I visit a friend of mine in a new house in UK, still this silly double tap, anyway it is just problematic for washing hands and face as in the shower they both go in the same showerhead.

    Oh, people! For god's sake, don't use the first "technique". Do you want to make your hand clean or dirty! Both of this so-called technique was a lot of water.

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Content dated before 7/24/2021 11:53 AM