Take the 2-minute tour ×
Travel Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for road warriors and seasoned travelers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I just traveled to Ireland. I was amazed to find that water sinks (at home, restaurants and public) have separate taps for hot and cold water.

If you use only the cold water, your hands freeze. If you use only hot water, your hands burn.

How do people use it? Is there tool at plumber shops to mix both of them (for my accommodation)?

Sink with separate hot/cold taps

share|improve this question
4  
How is this a travel question? –  andra Oct 26 '11 at 15:15
2  
You think that's messed up... I've been to apartments in Israel where the toilet had no tank... you need to turn a valve to start flushing, then turn it back to stop the flushing. It was cheaper for the landlord to install and maintain and the tenants tolerated it. –  JoelFan Oct 26 '11 at 19:06
3  
For a historical perspective, consider the pre-plumbing washbasin. You pour water in it, use the water for washing, then dump it. So having a way to draw hot & cold water directly in to the basin was a huge improvement! Washing your hands in running water came along much later. –  Jay Bazuzi Oct 27 '11 at 5:42
7  
I think this is an appropriate question or topic for travel.se. It's something that travellers might encounter around the world, and hence advice on this would be benefitial for travellers. –  Rory Oct 27 '11 at 9:17
3  
@Andra: I'd say it's a travel question in the same way as questions about electrical adapters –  Flimzy Oct 27 '11 at 22:16
show 6 more comments

5 Answers

up vote 29 down vote accepted

I had the same problem after arriving to the UK. There are two basic techniques:

  1. Plug the sink, pour the water and wash yourself in this water. I think this was how it was meant to be used when this system was first introduced years ago. You can mix it in any other container as well, depending on your needs. One potential downside to this method is that if the sink is not very clean you don't exactly want to be letting the presumably clean water sit in the basin.
  2. Open both taps and move your hands quickly between both taps. If you do it quickly enough you almost get the water mixed :)

Why did these nations decide to use this system and why haven't they replaced it with mixer taps is a mystery to me.

share|improve this answer
4  
You don't waste water if you plug the sink. I think of it as a smart design choice for saving the Earth. –  mouviciel Oct 26 '11 at 14:29
6  
I didn't like this "fill the sink, and wash your hand", sinks are not that clean! –  Yousf Oct 26 '11 at 14:51
10  
@mouviciel, the thing is you can do the same thing with a mixer tap. And many people use option (2) mentioned above, which wastes by far the most water. –  Grzenio Oct 26 '11 at 14:53
2  
Why do they use it? Probably a combination of resistance to change and willingness of the public to tolerate inconvenience. I'm sure the 2 tap system is cheaper so if there's no motivation to spend more money they won't. –  JoelFan Oct 26 '11 at 19:05
5  
@hippietrail, it doesn't explain why in many new developments they would still install separate taps. And today the price difference between mixer and separate taps in negligible comparing to plumber's fees. –  Grzenio Oct 28 '11 at 8:49
show 11 more comments

I am quite surprised at your question. Here in the UK, two single taps, one for hot water and one for cold water are the normal arrangement. You put the plug in the sink and half fill it from one tap, then you run the other into it until you have the temperature of water you want...or you do what I do, which is wash under a running cold tap.

share|improve this answer
2  
It may be normal and fine in the UK (and Ireland etc), but still feel somewhat primitive and unwieldy for the rest of us. ;) –  Jonik Sep 20 '12 at 14:25
4  
Not for all the rest of us. But this answer only covers clean sinks. It won't work in lots of pubs and nightclubs and many other public toilets unless submerging your hands in diluted mystery ick is not a problem or you always keep some household cleaning products with you (-; –  hippietrail Sep 23 '12 at 3:26
1  
@Jonik When you go to another country you shouldn't expect things to be the same as when you are at home. The majority of modern homes these days have mixer taps, however its doesnt take a genious to use a 2 tap system –  Simon Mar 6 '13 at 10:32
    
@hippietrail you're right for the cleanliness of the public places, that's why I never wash my hands in pubs except high grade restaurant. While traveling, I often use this portable alcool bottle: goo.gl/KbvveR –  ruffp Jan 1 at 23:40
add comment

I just found this gr8 (well, not very great) workaround. work around to deal with separate taps!.

Didn't try it yet, but looks like it may work.

share|improve this answer
2  
that's ingenious –  rs79 Nov 9 '11 at 13:46
1  
A thing of beauty! (And I hope you're not infringing anybody's copyrights) –  hippietrail Nov 9 '11 at 13:50
    
regarding the copyrights, I found this photo like this, I searched for its origin but failed. full copyright and patent for the unknown photo owner. –  Yousf Nov 9 '11 at 13:55
1  
+1 for the creativity. But wouldn't it be a problem to have hot (or very hot) water running in a plastic bottle? –  Vince Sep 20 '12 at 14:17
    
+1 for the funniest answer. –  ruffp Jan 1 at 23:32
add comment

Separate taps are still pretty common in Australia though mixer taps are on the rise.

What I usually do is check if the hot water is hot straight away. Usually it's not but I suppose this could depend on how the hot water is set up which may be different in Ireland.

If the hot tap is not hot straight away I use the hot tap just on just a bit checking with my fingertips every second or so if it's warm enough yet. I usually have enough time to have a good wash before the heat gets too high.

If not I prefer cold hands to any degree burns, but again I suppose Ireland sometimes has colder tapwater than Australia too (-:

share|improve this answer
add comment

I (an Irish person) only recently found out that this was an oddity of our country.

What I do usually is either use just one (like the hot tap, but quickly) or the cold tap. It's not that cold! Or just fill up the sink

share|improve this answer
4  
It is not typical Irish. I do have 2 sinks in my house with separate taps. I have also seen it in dozen other countries. That is why I am really surprised this question appears on travel.se and not being closed as of topic. –  andra Oct 27 '11 at 9:07
    
This is not an oddity of Ireland. I have seen this in the UK (where it is common) and in the US also. –  Andrew Ferrier Sep 16 '12 at 17:44
add comment

protected by mindcorrosive May 19 '13 at 6:06

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.