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February 1, 2004
It's pretty easy to get used to a bad design. The kitchen sink is a perfect example.
We don't yell when we have to fill a pasta pot with water and then lug it to the stove. We're used to hanging on to a soup pot in one hand while we turn on the tap with the other. We don't even complain when we can't turn round faucet knobs with soapy hands.
It doesn't pay to get mad about these flaws. But taking a good look at what's wrong with your sink might help you fix it.
How deep is your sink? Did you know the sink should be no more than 6½ inches deep? If it's deeper, you may be bending over a lot more than you need to.
You may also be stretching too much if your faucet is still at the back of your sink. Think about moving your water controls to the side of your sink instead. Your grandkids will be able to help with the dishes. And so will someone who uses a wheelchair.
By the way, wheelchair users will need some clear space below the sink so they can pull up close to the sink. That knee space should be 30" wide and 27" high. You may also need to move the hot water pipes back toward the wall. Otherwise, the person could burn his or her legs.
Tired of carrying pots full of water from the sink to the stove? Ask your plumber to put a spray hose next to the faucet. Buy an extra long hose - one that will reach all the way to the stove. Put the pot on the stove. Then, fill it with your sprayer. You'll never lift heavy pots again!
Consider getting a garbage disposal that rinses food waste down your sink. You might like to have a trash compactor too. These kitchen helpers will cut down on the amount of garbage you have to haul to the trash can and the curb. Just make sure all the switches are easy to reach.
There's hardly anything you do in a kitchen that doesn't involve your hands. It's time to give those hands a break.
First, change your faucets. If you have two faucets at the sink, tell your plumber that you want just one. Then you can turn on both the hot and cold water with one hand. Ask the plumber to put a lever handle on the faucet so it is easier to grasp. Put an extra long handle on that faucet and you can turn on the tap with an elbow or an arm.
If you need both hands free at the sink, get a pedal valve. This valve sits on the floor. It lets you turn on the water with your foot. This device comes in handy when you're already using both hands to hold a pot.
More than 5,000 children and older adults are burned each year from water that's too hot. It takes only 130 degrees to give you a water burn you will never forget. Most water heaters are set at 140 degrees.
Test your water today. If the temperature is more than 140 degrees, you need to act. First, turn your water heater down to 120 degrees. Second, think about buying an anti-scald device for your sink.
Anti-scald devices make sure your water stays only as hot as you want it. Some devices shut off your water if the water temperature gets too hot. Others adjust the mix of hot and cold water coming from your tap. This way, your water temperature will always stay at a safe level. Ask your plumber for details.
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