Plumbing might be one of the oldest technologies in the world, but that doesn’t mean that innovation is not possible – in fact, there are several different ways that science, technology, and even ideology is improving our plumbing systems.

In this article we will look at what plumbers are going to be putting into our plumbing, everything from touchless faucets and smart showers through to ensuring that there are enough qualified plumbers available.

Smart Technology

The Internet of Things (IoT) isn’t a new concept; in fact, connectivity (particularly in the home) is something that many people have already. These are the hubs like Alexa and Google Nest, for example, as well as connected fridges, smartphone-controlled washing machines, heating controls and obviously TVs.

For plumbing, many of the smart fixtures are about a combination of convenience, water saving, and even safety. Smart showers, for example, use less water and manage things like temperature, water pressure, and the length of time that you can spend. Touchless faucets, smart toilets, and smart baths are all available, too.

Modern trend bathroom
Modern bathrooms have all the latest trends
(Photo by Jean van der Meulen: https://www.pexels.com/photo/bathroom-interior-1457847/)

Smart technology in plumbing and throughout the home is the answer when customers are looking for more technology advanced homes and places to live where there is a real push for being more environmentally conscious.

Eco-Friendly Fixtures and Additions

As mentioned, part of the draw of these so-called smart tech fixtures is that they are actually better for the environment.

These include things like:

  • Pipes with built in water leak detection technology.
  • Water recyclers to return greywater for non-potable purposes.
  • Low-flow faucets and reduced pressure in toilet flushing
  • Recycled materials (more about this later)
  • Solar water heaters – the market for these is predicted to expand by about 8% by 2035.

Integrating Plumbing Systems

While in the UK cooling systems are not as prevalent as they are in other places, more modern heating systems are more often being combined – especially with some of the more up-to-date modern and renewable systems.

Combining heating and cooling tends to be cheaper to install and cheaper to run, and just generally more efficient.

Integrating heat pumps and air conditioners, for example, makes better use of resources like water to transfer heating and cooling in a property.

The modern technology used in these combined systems include things like improved heat exchangers, burners, and compressors – which, when combined with smart thermostats and humidity sensors which reduce energy consumption.

Finally, integrating these systems means that any repairs or servicing is much more simple and streamlined – with fewer service personnel involved and more efficient loss of resources.

Materials and Techniques

The proliferation of 3D printing – and we are barely scratching the surface of what this technology can do – has made a real difference in the affordability of plumbing parts and fixtures. These can now be produced much faster and at a fraction of the cost, with more flexibility around the design. Even the most intricate designs can be brought to life without too much waste.

Recycled materials are as much about aesthetics as they are about being more environmentally aware. The escalating focus on sustainability has seen plastic pipes and fittings that have been created from recovered and recycled materials. Obviously, this reduces waste and promotes recycling – but there is also a drive to include other reclaimed materials like metal and glass.

modern sink and technological plumbing
Plumbing is all about modernity these days
(Photo by Max Vakhtbovycn: https://www.pexels.com/photo/lavatory-on-marbled-surface-8135411/)

Finally, plumbers are working on trenchless pipe repair – the idea that there are less invasive ways to make repairs that are actually more effective. Using techniques like pipe lining, pipe bursting, and pipe relining, there is no need for excavation which saves time, labour, and inconvenience.

The Skills Gap

This is not necessarily a positive trend in plumbing, but there has been a marked issue with attracting and retaining skilled workers. The current workforce is aging, and the younger generation seem to be lacking in interest in becoming a plumber.

What this means is that there is a real need to strategise – think of the best ways to not only attract new plumbers, but also ensure that they receive the right training to bridge the widening skills gap. These include things like apprenticeships and training programs that combine hands-on learning with working towards a recognised qualification – this will give a steady pipeline of skilled professionals.

The other part of this solution should be focusing on diversity, bringing underrepresented people into the workforce by making it more accessible to women and minorities. This widens the pool of potential plumbers and makes it easier to address the challenges of a widening skills gap.