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The Perils of Dating

By Stuart Gizzi, MD at Intatec

The brassware industry works within a framework of regulations and guidelines that are designed to ensure that manufacturers make the very best taps, valves and showers they can and that specifiers understand exactly what they’re getting. UK manufacturers have a good reputation for compliance, with products being well made and properly tested and certified. 

Before COVID our engineers at Inta were sending new products over to the certification bodies for testing and things were normal. We know that normal stopped happening in March and as some of us manufacturers ramped back up again, we hoped that the testing regimes would too. 

The thing about product testing is that the certification has a start date, but it also has an end date – before which point you would usually resubmit your product for a retest, or send over the new and improved version for testing. Unfortunately, response from the testing bodies has stopped. The products and messages we send are disappearing into the ether. We know that everyone is in the same position and that the testers must have a growing backlog of products. 

There are implications for the launch of new products, which I can’t see a practical way around at the moment, but for products where the certification is about to expire, there is a very easy temporary fix, and that’s for the testing bodies to grant an extension on expiry dates, just like the government did for MOT tests on cars. Maybe 6 months, maybe 12 – however long it is that they think it will take them to clear the backlog. 

If you’re in the market for supplying products or tendering against strict product specifications and approvals, an expired date can have a big impact. Something that was perfectly fit for purpose last week, may fall foul of the rules this week.  

My team has tried to contact the two main testing bodies, but after a week of trying, there’s been no success. The two simple questions we wanted to ask were; Are you back at work testing again yet? And is it feasible to extend the certification expiry dates? Both of those questions currently go unanswered. So please, testing bodies, can you give us an expiry date amnesty?

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Flushed with success? How toilet technology is changing

We’ve come a long way since the days of the chamber pot and the cry of “garde à l’eau!” as people chucked the contents on to the streets. (Did you know it is this phrase that led to the English word ‘loo’?)

Over the years, toilets have become rather more sophisticated – from Sir John Harrington, the godson of Elizabeth I, who invented the flushable water closet in the late 1500s, to Alexander Cummings’ revolutionary S-trap, patented in 1775 – there have long been efforts to improve bathroom technology.

It was the 20th century that saw bathroom technology develop rapidly, with the advent of flushable valves, close-coupled toilets and automatic flushing systems among other introductions.

However, the toilet of the 21st century is yet another concept and we are seeing the rise of the smart toilet. Not surprisingly, the Japanese are at the forefront of these high-tech developments.

Smart toilet? Well, yes. Seat heating, coloured lighting, automatic lid openers and slow-closing lids, built-in deodorisers (no need for a spray of VIPoo, with that particular feature), and self-cleaning features such as using UV light, which interacts with the bowl to electrolyse and then sanitise the water. Even privvies that have music playing while you’re on the throne and those that can be controlled by an app.

These are fun – OK, not absolutely necessary – advancements that we’re likely to see only in the homes of celebs and multi-millionaires who have thousands of pounds to spend on a super-lav.

Other technologies, however, such as remote-controlled bidet with adjustable washing and flushing modes, and adjustable air dryers, are proving to be hugely helpful for the disabled and the elderly. We can imagine a time when these will become mainstream.

But controlling a toilet from an app and having mood music and tunes playing? Not for us, thanks!

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10 things everyone should know about hard water and limescale

  1. Approximately 13 million households in the UK live in a hard water area — that amounts to 60% of the population! Use this map to see if you live in a very hard, hard or soft water area, or alternatively, contact your local authority.
  2. Hard water occurs in areas where the bedrock consists of porous, sedimentary substances like limestone or sandstone. When rainfall seeps through the rock, it dissolves chemical compounds and carries traces of them along with it. Water with a high mineral content (most commonly calcium and magnesium) then makes its way into the local water supply.
  3. Engineered water supply systems now mean that even soft water areas might receive hard water.
  4. The minerals in hard water, when heated, are what cause limescale to appear on surfaces — which creates all kinds of problems.
  5. Hard water can be bad for your hair and your skin. It aggravates skin conditions like eczema, and the ion deposits can dull your hair’s colour and shine and give it a coarse texture.
  6. Washing your clothes and towels in hard water can make the fabric hard and rough to the touch, and white materials may lose their brightness or turn grey.
  7. Limescale build-up can end up causing parts to fail in household appliances like showers, boilers, kettles, washing machines and dishwashers.
  8. Hard water can make your heating and hot water bills more expensive, as it reduces the efficiency of boilers and appliances. According to The Carbon Trust, “a 1mm layer of limescale will cause a 7% increase in energy input to the boiler to meet the same heat demand.” This amounts to an extra £150 to £200 in household bills every year.
  9. Appliances need to be repaired or replaced more frequently due to limescale damage, incurring further hassle and costs.
  10. You may need to use extra detergent and washing up liquid to get your clothes and dishes clean, as soap tends not to lather as effectively in hard water.

Water conditioning units can prevent the build-up of limescale in your showers and taps, increasing the efficiency of your boiler and saving you money in the long term. Click here to find out more about our WRAS-approved ActivFlo range.