UK water faucets

Why are the water faucets in the UK separated into hot and cold?
Why not have one spout where you could mix the two? I don’t understand.

Well for a start in the UK, there are no such thing as water faucets, there called ‘taps’.

Many nowdays do infact have a single spout especially in kitchens and those going into baths. I suppose it’s more personal preference than anything else, but it’s alot easier to plumb in a set of taps with two spouts.

Well, they’re called taps to begin with, however… :slight_smile:

Plumbing’s been around the UK a lot longer that America and lots of the buildings are older than most American residences. Back in them days there was a noticable difference in pressure from the hot and cold supplies. (Not sure of the details, IANA plumber). So if they were combined in the one tap the cold would simply block out the hot when they merged.

So it kind of became usual to have seperate taps. Some do have mixer taps, it’s down to preference, how modern your plumbing is and what you’re use to.

It’s funny you should mention differences in pressure FT, because we had that excat problem when plumbing into taps with a single spout, as our hot water tank is one storey below our cold water tank and they both rely on gravity. In the end we had to put a limiter on the cold water supply for the tap inorder to make the pressures simlair enough.

I could see the water pressure deal being a problem. Thanks for the info.


Dumb American…Ha!

I’ve lived in lots of places that had weak hot water pressure in comparison to the cold water pressure, yet I never had a problem with them both coming out of a single tap. You just turn the hot water all the way on, then turn the cold on just enough to adjust the temperature to what you want. Often this means that the hot water is full open, but the cold is just barely cracked. What’s so hard about that?

Do Brits with the seperate taps usually use them by mixing the water in the basin and then washing in that? Or do you move your hands back and forth, alternately burning and freezing? If you mix the water in the basin first, that explains why you don’t mind having two seperate taps. But most Americans I know wash their hands by running them under a stream of water which is mixed to the desired temperature.

Maybe people don’t want to waste the hot water by using the method described above to get the right temperature?

In our house the hot water tap takes a while to get really warm, so if you are only washing your hands you can just use the hot tap, before it gets scalding. Hope that makes some sense!

ntucker, you can use the big alex method of not scalding your hands or you can swish your hands qucikly between the two taps which also works quite well (most bathroom wash basins, at least in older houses, in the UK have two taps). The idea is though that you pour the water into the basin, and wash your hands in the basin.

The one place you nearly always will find a mixer tap in the Uk is on the kitchen sink, the reason for this, I believe, is that kitchens are refitted more often than bathrooms; in the 1930s house I lived in last, we stripped and remodelled the kitchen (and what we stripped out was not original), but the bath and washbasin in the bathroom were original fitiings; I replaced the bath and basin taps when we redecorated the bathroom, but…
—It didn’t even occur to me that mixer taps were an option and…
—Even if it had, I can’t really see the point in having them and…
—I probably wouldn’t have found any to fit the hole placements anyway.
So until comparatively recently, there probably wasn’t much of a market for mixer taps, this would have meant that they would be hard to find and the whole thing cycles around from there.

If my hands just need a quick rinse, I’ll either use cold water, or, as big alex suggests, wash them in the start-flow of the hot.
If my hands need a thorough wash, I’ll put the plug in and fill the basin.

I see mixers as simply unnecessary; the only reason I have one in the kitchen is that the spout can be moved to fill either of the sinks.

It really depends on how your sink is holed in the first place. Whichever kind of tap you want or need, the plumber can easily adapt the pipework accordingly. I have separate taps in the bathroom and a mixer tap on my kitchen sink, and to be honest I don’t find one type any more convenient than the other.

My friend has a rather funky thermostatic mixer tap on his bathroom basin. Just turn the lever left or right to set the temperature, and flip it up and down to control the flow. If the water pressure fluctuates, you don’t end up with scalded hands. There’s also a hidden screw which allows you to limit the tap’s maximum temperature, making it impossible for anyone to burn themselves even if they tried.

I suppose there is also the matter of collective psyche; I can’t help but find the idea of <gasp> slightly scalding my hands amusingly trivial (and if you knoiw that the hot water always comes out of the one and the cold another, the likelihood of scalding is somewhat diminished)

Who don’t our taps make sense? Because this is England, where dumb ass backwards is the norm and nothing makes sense.

We have the most expensive but most overcrowded and least reliable train system in Europe, and probably the world. We have no money to spend on our schools, so the schools have to sell off land to build new classrooms or pay the teachers, many of whom are functionally illiterate anyway because we don’t teach grammar any more.

For the first time in our history, we now have as many Health Service administrators and paper pushing bureaucrats as we do hospital beds. We are short of money for every vital service and amenity, and elderly people needing vital operations lie on trolleys in hospital corridors for 10 hours at a time. Yet our glorious government cand piss away billions of pounds on things like ‘The Millenium Dome’. Nobody wanted it, nobody voted for it. It only had one year of official use, after which it was empty and just waiting for a buyer. During this phase, when it was empty, the government was still spending £24,000 per month on public relations for the Dome.

Scotland’s not much better. After devolution, the new Scottish parlianment building was projected to cost £4 million pounds. The current estimate is that it will cost £400 million. No, that’s not a typo. Estimate: 4. Actual: 400.

We have the highest taxes in the world, without a shadow of a doubt (when you add both direct and indirect taxes) and yet have public services that are deteriorating rapidly. Our police have given up on anything less serious than murder, as you will find if you try reporting a burglary or a theft. Why? Because the police spend all day every day filling in paperwork designed to make sure the rights of the criminal are not infringed, and even if they do manage to bring someone to court and get a conviction they get kid glove treatment and a light smack on the wrist.

We used to have a damn fine manufacturing base. We could build ships and cars and motor bikes that were the envy of the world. We coujld design things and invent things. Now we import everything. We used to have an indigenous film industry. Now we’re just a facilities house for Hollywood. We used to win at sports. Used to.

Our key national characteristic, as succinctly expressed by film director Ken Loach, is “heads-down do nothingness”.

And you think we’ve got problems with the taps ?!

Oh, geez. Nobody’s claiming that seperate taps is some kind of tremendous hardship. But after a lifetime of having the water come out of the tap at exactly the temperature I like it, it seems kind of silly not to have it. It isn’t exactly advanced technology.

What’s the advantage to having seperate taps? I don’t see how the plumbing is necessarily easier.

After a lifetime of having the water come out of separate taps and mixing it to exactly the temperature I like it (in the bath or basin), I can’t see the point.

Anyway, the OP has it exactly backwards; we don’t separate the taps into hot and cold; you unite them.

I’m in the US, but my house was built in the 1920’s so some of the taps are separate. We also had separate taps in some of the sinks at my elementary school and now at my college. It’s not really a problem. As people said, either you swirl between the two taps or if you’re just washing your hands, you just use cold. It’s also obviously not a UK-only thing.

Ianzin says, “England, where dumb ass backwards is the norm and nothing makes sense”.

Well, you must have caught it from California. The state is $10 billion in the hole and plans to exceed $35 billion in red ink. My local school disctrict just fired most of the librarians and a couple of math teachers. At least you HAVE a rail system.

C.S. Lewis predicted much of this in The Abolition of Man (1953) :frowning:

eek! 1943

This has been covered before. Search GQ under title “Silly English Faucets.”,2379,3756,00.html

Search and ye shall find.

The article is slightly out of date, we don’t have much lead plumbing at all, the vast majority has been replaced by reinfirced pvc pipework.

When we started putting in a public water supply, it was not all that reliable, so tanks were installed in the higher parts of folks homes and these would fill themselves up using float ball valve systems.These tanks would fill up whenever there was pressure in the water mains so the house tenent would not be unduly affected by breaks in supply.

Problem here is that you don’t get a lot of pressure, given the height of most houses in the UK, and the water mains pipe to the house itself is not of sufficient width to provide a great enough flow for peak demands either.

Our cold water is usually supplied direct from the water mains, whereas hot water comes from that tamk in the loft via the heating system, which means a big differance in water pressures between hot and cold.

Trying to mix hot and cold water at differant pressures doesn’t work too well, hence the two faucets.

There is not real reason why we shpuld not have fully pressurised hot and cold systems, nor any reason why we should not then change to having mixer faucets, except that it would mean expensively replacing all the sinks, baths, heater tanks and central heating boilers, none of which are designed to work in this way.

This would cost thousands of $ per household and for what would appear to be a very minor benefit, the removal of one faucet per sink!

In hospitals and the larger old folks homes it is normal practice to have mixer faucets whose output temperature is set by a plumber.This is for safety reasons to prevent the vulnerable from scalding themselves.

It sounds to me like ALL states in the US are like California & the UK…at least the UK isn’t too backwards to figure out the metric system.

The REAL question is, why isn’t everyone using fog guns? We’d spend less time washing & rinsing, get cleaner hands, and we’d be using 1/10th of the water. Not to mention all the energy we’d save by taking advantage of using compressed air as a storage medium…