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#5 Plumbing for the elderly

#5 Plumbing for the elderly

This article is aimed to give you a few ideas for how you can make your home or work plumbing fixtures easier to use as you get older.

1. Tap ware

1/4 turn taps

If you have spindle type taps (these are the ones you have to turn at 360 degrees to turn on/off), then I would recommend installing 1/4 turn style spindle taps. As the name suggests they only require 1/4 of a turn to be turned fully on or off, and only require small pressures to turn. Not like the good old taps where you had to break your hand to stop the water dripping!

Supply and replace approx. $200 -$300

Mixer tap

If you’re thinking about renovating or making some small alterations, then changing from spindle type taps to a mixer style lever tap is also a good option. They are very easy to use and don’t usually seize up as badly as the spindle style taps.

Sensor tap

You will see sensor taps in some shopping centre amenities. If you suffer from arthritis in the hands for example, these taps could be a game changer. They are available for basins and sinks and only require hand movements near to the tap for the tap to activate.

Again these products range in price, however a bit of research should help you find an affordable product!

Labour cost $150 -$250

Voice activated tapware

Not wanting to go too left field, but devices such as Google home will be changing the way we use our homes very soon. They already have so many awesome automated systems but the one which relates to this topic is the voice activated shower. You can even set it to the required temperature with only your voice! It will be years before this is the standard, but it may be useful for someone out there now who has not heard of the product.

Visit the link below to get an idea of the products out there:

2. Support rails (grab rails)

With age our muscles get weaker and we can find ourselves a little unstable on our feet. This is where grab rails come into good use.

We have installed support rails quite similar to the ones you see in shopping centres. The rails are set to building regulations but when these are installed in your home, the beauty is that you can install them to match your exact needs. You can also get a wall mounted bench seat in your shower which folds up and can be latched back to wall.

Rails are relatively cheap to buy and can be installed by any capable tradesman or handyman.

3. Toilets

Some toilets are designed to suit the elderly by lifting the rim of the toilet a little higher and making the seat a bit more stable. I would definitely recommend installing a grab rail with your toilet, even if it’s only one as it will make a big difference to your life.

Toilets are also becoming more automated and now have a touch-less flush activation and voice activated flush.

4. Water temperature

Our bodies get more susceptible to damage from hot water as we get older and it is important to put checks in place to ensure this doesn’t happen.

The standard device in all new homes limits water temperature to 50 degrees. This is fine when mixed with cold water but is still too hot for some.

A device called a ‘thermostatic mixing valve’ is recommended for people who need a little more control over their water temperature. This device can control water temperature as low as cold water to warm.

If hot water is a real concern for you or a loved one, then this is the device for you.

Easy to install – $250-$350 to purchase.

5. Fixture and appliance heights

This is one area people don’t generally think about too much! Sinks, basins can be lifted or lowered and washing machines can be stacked so you can avoid having to bend down to do the washing.

Height adjustable basins are generally wall hung, but a cabinet maker can make your cabinets to suit any dimension.

Also, it is not hard to lower or lift the tap heights in your shower or the height of an irrigation tap outside.

No extra cost when installing new – cheap to medium price to retrofit

6. Irrigation

There a number of jobs we can do to in the garden to greatly reduce the effort needed to maintain a well groomed garden.

Automatic irrigation system

Whether your garden is mainly lawn or flower bed, it doesn’t matter.

Pipe work is systematically laid around your garden, usually on the surface through your garden bed and at a shallow depth through lawn areas. It is then connected to a hose tap which is attached to either the water mains or rain water supply.

Attached is a link to an automatic irrigation timer. It is as simple as it looks, simply installed between your water supply and your irrigation pipe.

It then runs to the parameters you set, whether that be run one hour per day or two, it responds to your needs.

If you are technology savvy you can hook up the water supply to your phone or even water the garden when you are in holiday. You can also stop the supply while the storm season passes.

7. Hose reels

Long gone are the days where we need to struggle unraveling kinked hoses. Now there are hundreds of retractable hose types to choose from. These system are very easily installed and can be installed on walls or fences.

If they are placed in a central location in your garden, hoses are generally 20-30 meters long, so unless your garden is huge, 1-2 reels will be enough to service your whole garden.

You can visit your local Bunnings and try a few out, see which one best suits your needs!


There are so many simple products out there at affordable prices, which could make life around your home a whole lot easier.

Why not make it a goal to add an easy feature to your plumbing each year or, if you are the child of ageing adult parents.. why not buy and install as a present?

One option to spread the cost out is to find a plumber who can work on an hourly rate and is willing to give you an estimate time for the jobs.

If you are interested, our team has the experience in this area to give quick, accurate prices for supply and installation of these items!

Hiring our plumber for four hours could achieve two bathrooms of 1/4 turn taps change overs, 2-4 grab rails, a hose tap hose reel, and a wall hung basin.

A fair bit of improvement can be made over a short period of time. With communication and a bit of planning and working together, great things can be achieved to improve your life!


If you need any further assistance, feel free to reach out to Yates Plumbing and Gas. We are local Brisbane plumbers, with a passion for excellence. Our friendly qualified team can help you with all of your plumbing and gas needs.

If you require more information or would like to book our service, please email on or call us on 0437 827 502

We service the following areas:
Birkdale – Wellington Point- Alexandra hills- Capalaba – Wynnum – Thorneside – Lota- Manly – Cleveland- Ormiston – Morningside – Cannon Hill- Camp Hill- Chandler – Carindale – Gumdale – Wakerley – Bulimba – Belmont – Tingalpa