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Foot-Pedal Powered Faucet

Tapping for the tap. Ripped from the medical field this foot-powered faucet reduces water usage, looks great, and makes the sink more fun to use

Pushing pedals. Two pedals (one for hot water, one for cold) control each faucet. Valves can be accessed through a trap in the floor of the vanity.

Pushing pedals. Two pedals (one for hot water, one for cold) control each faucet. Valves can be accessed through a trap in the floor of the vanity.

Photo by: Charles Miller

The foot-pedal faucet in our bathroom is really a new application of an existing technology used mostly in the medical field. For us, it was a great way to reduce our water usage, to reinforce the clean modern lines of the bathroom, and to make the sink more fun to use.

In addition to its novelty and the interest it draws, this pedal-valve system does some pretty cool things. It allows us to use only the water we need and saves a great deal of water we’d otherwise waste, which stretches both our money and our limited resources. Functionally, it keeps more water and soap bubbles off the countertop because we no longer have to reach beyond the sink basin to operate the controls. And aesthetically, it keeps the countertop a little less cluttered for a cleaner look.

In this type of arrangement, the faucet spout and pedals are separate items sold individually, unlike typical residential faucet kits that include all the components. We chose a Chicago Faucet model 626-E3 faucet ($60; www.chicagofaucet.com) and a Chicago Faucet model 625 pedal valve ($174). Installation was a little more complex compared with a standard faucet. We had to rethink where and how to install the shutoff valve, and we had to remind the countertop installer—repeatedly—not to drill the faucet-handle holes.

The faucet did not come with a basin plug like a standard bathroom-faucet set. It was not until all the hardware was installed that we realized this. So it was off to the plumbing-supply house again to order plugs for the two sinks. (We went with Kohler model K7127-A-CP drain plugs at $43 each.) But all in all, the installation is clean and looks great.

Using the pedals is entirely intuitive: You step on the pedal and the water flows; you lift your foot and the water stops. To get warm water, you push both cold and hot pedals at the same time (it’s not as awkward as you might think). So without a second thought, it’s easy to staunch the otherwise constant flow of water down the drain while brushing teeth or washing hands. If you’re a parent, you’ll save your voice because there will be no need to scold the kids for wasting water while at the sink.

Be aware, though, that small children may find it hard or impossible to operate the pedals and reach the water flow at the same time. Our kids (then 6 and 7 years old) had been using a step stool to wash their hands. They couldn’t stand on the step stool, operate the pedals, and reach the water. Luckily, they were tall enough for us to ditch the step stool.

That said, one of my children demonstrated to us the real value of getting a foot-pedal faucet system. Once, before we had it, my youngest son had brushed his teeth with the cold water on full blast. An obstruction in the pipe had slowed but not stopped the drain. So the water filled the basin faster than the drain could remove it. When my son finished, he walked away and “forgot” to turn off the water. I discovered it 20 minutes later when I was attracted by the sound of a water feature in our bathroom. I then discovered that my bathroom had become the set of the movie Crimson Tide, specifically, the scene where they scuttle the Russian sub. I still wonder what that morning cost.

Two pedals (one for hot water, one for cold) control each faucet. Two pedals (one for hot water, one for cold) control each faucet. Photo by: Charles Miller
Valves can be accessed through a trap in the floor of the vanity. Valves can be accessed through a trap in the floor of the vanity. Photo by: Charles Miller
Photos: Charles Miller
From Fine Homebuilding207 , pp. 103