Faucet Frustration

Say the words “water conservation,” and I sit up and listen. It’s an issue everywhere as well as around Westport. If you care about your home town and its environs, you do what you can to participate in ecological and conservation issues. If everyone did that in their own area, we could cover the planet. How great is that!

I have a friend who designs plumping parts for a living. He does repair work, of course, but as a side business he can custom create parts for old sinks and bathrooms. He also salvages some of the Finest Faucets from the old days you’ve ever seen, but sometimes it’s easier to get the welder out and fabricate something new.

He decided to create a kitchen faucet that conserves water by regulating the flow. Yes, there are low-flow units of all kinds, but he wanted one that did even better. He wanted an adjustable variant such that if you needed to fill a kitchen sink fast for dishes, you could. If you wanted to rinse one dish, you could—with significantly less water.

He thought about a lever, a button, and the like. He elected to fabricate instead a digital unit that you could program to heat water so fast that it didn’t have to run out of the faucet for what seemed ages to get hot. This is a problem in older homes in particular. There are sophisticated systems on the market, but he wanted people to upgrade their existing faucets for a modest outlay. That would conserve faucets, he thought, and money! (I am more into the water part, but nonetheless it is a well-grounded idea.)

The first version was trial and error and rather primitive. It was on the right track, but not there. He needed an existing digital prototype that could be adapted. But that would be expensive. Electronics is far afield from plumbing! He finally had to raid the local university for a student genius to get him started on the correct path. Great thinking. He found one who was able to build a unit on the inside and my friend could put it in an attractive casing, small enough to fit at the top of the faucet where it connects to the kitchen sink. He could work on making an even smaller one later for bathrooms, but as yet the device was on the large side. Maybe a pinch cumbersome.

The problem was: the kid was graduating in six months. So they made as many as they could and stored them away for future sales. He did install a few, but people wanted custom finishes like oil rubbed bronze or polished brass and it all got a bit too complicated for his system of building and repairing old faucets. Also, fixing defective units was a bear. He had to just give out a new one. Inventory was rapidly dwindling, along with his hope of making this the big success that he initially thought it could be.

The idea was respectable in principle and a good effort. We should all be so water conservation- minded. His heart was in the right place even if his ability was not. He probably will try something else, knowing him. He won’t let this failure get him down. I am confident of future success.