2022 Plumbing Technology & Design Trends

January 12, 2022

New year, new … fill in the blank. What do you hope to change this year? If you’re looking around your home and itching for a change, perhaps your eyes wander to the kitchen or bathroom. Keep in mind: an upgrade doesn’t always have to be design focused. Many homeowners are seeking more efficiency when it comes to energy and water usage, which of course means nice savings to the bottom line too. Curious what’s on trend when it comes to plumbing technology in 2022?

“Touchless plumbing products, smart building system technologies, and filtration products and systems should see significant growth in 2022,” predicts The International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials CEO Dave Viola.

We agree with Mr. Viola and expect the following four trends to gain (or continue to gain) traction in 2022.

  • Touchless faucets
  • Smart leak detectors
  • Tankless water heaters
  • Steam showers 

If you’re curious what’s trending on the HVAC/heating & cooling side of things, the HVAC technology trends we covered in 2021 still apply this year! 

Touchless Faucets 

According to the Houzz 2021 bath trends report, faucets are the most popular bath upgrade, and their counterpart, sinks, are seeing more switch-outs since the year before.” A big reason for the concentration on faucets is the increased attention we’ve all put on handwashing since the pandemic began. You’ve probably seen more of these types of faucets in restaurant, retail and office settings than in your friends’ and family’s homes, but this trend is coming for the residential space! And with so many design options, you can amp up your style while also increasing function. Better Homes & Gardens offers up their recommendations for eight touchless kitchen faucets

If you’re handy, you can probably install your new touchless kitchen or bath faucet. Or we’d be happy to send one of our qualified Charlotte Mechanical plumbers to do it for you. 

Fun fact: “Millennials are, in fact, influencing design trends, according to a recent National Kitchen & Bath Association study, and what they’re looking for, designers say, are flexible and easy to clean spaces, greater access to the outdoors, app-controlled appliances and touchless fixtures, as well as energy and water efficiency.” So, if that sounds like you too, you could explore one or more of those on-trend upgrades. 

Water Leak Detector 

“Water leaks are incredibly common, with over 2.5 million homeowners experiencing one every year, according to the bob vila website. “Of those, 40 percent of homeowners report dealing with water damage at some point, making it six times more common than house fire damage.” 

With those odds, we are big fans of water leak detectors! A water leak is one thing you absolutely want to catch before it becomes a problem. Because, as you can imagine, a leak that goes undetected can wreak serious [expensive] havoc to your home. 

And the great news is that there are tons of options and most are fairly inexpensive. We recommend installing them in basements, behind toilets, underneath sinks, around washers and leaky areas (e.g., that window that has never sealed just right). Basically, if there is high water flow, there is a strong likelihood of leaks.                  

Most detectors connect to an app so that you’re sent notifications directly to your phone. Beyond that, there are lots of different types with a variety of features that impact their functionality. Good Housekeeping suggests considering the following factors when shopping for one

  • Smart home integrations: In short, will it work with your other smart home devices (e.g., Alexa)?
  • Multiple sensors: Can you add multiple sensors so that you can monitor everything together?
  • Automatic water shut-off: To us, this is the most important feature. Can it automatically shut off the water source if a leak is detected? Otherwise, if you’re not home, you’re going to need to scramble to find a neighbor or family member with a key who can get to your home in short order!
  • Temperature monitoring: This feature isn’t as important for the weather we experience in the Charlotte metro, but it’s a nice-to-have. Basically, it’s an alert for freezing temperatures to monitor for freezing pipes.
  • Battery life: The battery life range can be one year up to five. Some even let you know when they need to be replaced.

Tankless Water Heater 

According to Family Handyman, "tankless water heaters use 30 to 50 percent less energy than units with tanks, saving a typical family about $100 or more per year, depending on water usage." 

Like anything, there are pros and cons. On the plus side, you can save energy, money and space. Plus, you could **almost** have infinite hot water. The downside is that a tankless water heater is more expensive than a traditional water heater. On average, it is about twice the cost of a standard tanked water heater but it lasts roughly 1.5-2x longer. Also, it requires electricity (in addition to gas for many models), so when your electricity goes out, say goodbye to your hot water too.

Steam Shower

We saved the fanciest upgrade for last! A steam shower, not to be confused with a sauna, is a warm, vaporous steam room haven that takes the place of your ordinary shower stall, in the words of This Old House.

The main reason you’d install one is because you enjoy a luxurious experience. In-home spa anyone?! But there are also some secondary benefits; real estate experts cite a steam shower as a sound investment that you’ll get your money out of. Plus, steam is beneficial for individuals with asthma, allergies or chronic dry skin – some even say it can improve blood circulation and sleep.

Experts from Quality Bath caution, “But adding steam to your bathroom isn’t quite as simple as installing a generator that can push hot, humid air into the room. You need a dedicated space, usually enclosed in tile and glass to contain the steam.” Another caveat: it can be a magnet for mold, so be prepared to pay close attention to the cleaning. The price varies widely. Some sites estimate about $3-5k and some around $2-6k.

If a steam shower is over budget or maybe just too over the top for you, there are some other trends spraying your way too. According to Houzz, 74% of people are upgrading their shower experience with fixtures like rainfall showerheads, body sprayers, and mood lighting. The National Kitchen & Bath Association also notes that curbless shower entries, handheld showers and shower seats are being incorporated.

Also, follow along on social media where we’re regularly providing HVAC/heating tips and advice: Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn.

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