Plumbing has employed the same general techniques for generations. However, even with standardization, there are still consistent advancements in the industry. From stronger materials to technology that improves efficiency, upgrading your plumbing can deliver long-term cost savings and higher home resale values.
If you’re tackling a plumbing project, constructing an outbuilding, or planning a renovation, consider upgrading your pipe system during the process, and keep these current plumbing trends in mind.
1. Water Savings
By far the most talked-about trend related to plumbing revolves around water conservation. Water-restricting shower heads and faucets and low-flow or dual-flush-valve toilets will continue to become more mainstream as companies design more efficient models with trendy features.
2. Cost Savings
Along with water and electricity reduction comes cost savings. Upgrading the water heater can net some serious budget savings, since it's typically the highest cost appliance in the household. Tankless systems offer substantial energy savings by providing water on demand rather than sourcing energy to continuously keep water warm in the heater. You can centralize a tankless systems with one larger unit, or install individual units under sinks and in utility rooms.
3. Solar Power
Although solar energy technology has been around for decades, it’s really just beginning to make strides when it comes to offering water heating capabilities. This is because appliance manufacturers have only recently gotten on board with producing water heaters that work effectively with solar power. These specialized systems can be tricky to install, but the cost savings from this green energy will be noticeable.
4. Pipe Upgrades
From outdated municipal systems to pipes used in residential construction decades ago, plumbers are now looking to upgrade many types of pipes that have become associated with lead poisoning, leaks, or other issues. Replacing all the piping in a home is expensive, though, since many pipes run through walls and underground.
Consider making upgrades in phases as you work on specific systems. As an alternative to completely replacing aging pipes, consider a filtration or chlorinating system that will clean the water to make it safe for drinking.
5. Geothermal Energy
The Earth’s core is a hotbox, and therefore a source of energy that is sustainable and readily available for heating water. As with most green technology, the initial investment is higher than traditional underground plumbing, but the benefits are obvious and undeniable. If it’s time to replace underground pipes, going with a geothermal system is a great choice for both the planet at your budget.
6. Pipe Lining
There is a solution to thinning, leaking, and cracked underground pipes that doesn’t involve digging up every inch of pipe in your yard. Pipe lining involves injecting an epoxy into your pipes that will settle into a layer coating the inside. Filling holes and gaps by effectively building a new pipe inside the framework of your existing one is a complicated task, but if you're experiencing leaks, it can lead to significant savings.
7. Design Elements
For the moment it appears that a clean, streamlined look is in vogue, and classical and ornate fixtures are out of style. Products like touchless faucets appear to be here to stay—they allow you to simply wave your hand under the soap dispenser or water faucet to activate it without contacting a shared surface. Some bathtubs and sinks offer simple touch-button models that require only a tap of the toe or finger to control water flow.
In addition to plumbing hardware, bathroom designs in general are trending towards neat, clean, light lines. As far as plumbing goes, that means installing frameless showers or entire wet rooms that offer proper drainage without walls or fiberglass edges.
We’ve come a long way from the weekly bath with buckets of water heated over a fire. Today’s modern shower is not just a way to get clean, but an entire experience with a multitude of conveniences. While the minimalistic look might be en vogue, built-in drink holders, lights that change colors, multiple shower heads with adjustable settings, and even sound systems are popular additions.