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Plumbing Improvements for Your Decatur or Hartselle, AL Home: The Kitchen Makeover, pt 2

When considering making improvements to or renovating the kitchen in your Decatur or Hartselle, AL home, keep an open mind and dream big, even if your budget screams “go small!”

In meeting with a Decatur or Hartselle, AL plumber, plumbing contractor, or general contractor to go over your plans, you can always scale back to meet the current budget while still planning for the future.

It doesn’t hurt to know what’s out there, what your options are, and how they may impact home infrastructure like plumbing because people are doing so much more — like installing professional coffee bars (complete with countertop glass washers), special prep sinks, instant hot water dispensers, and so on.

In this post and subsequent ones, we’ll look at kitchen improvements and their impact on your plumbing ecosystem. Later we’ll look at non appliance issues — but still plumbing related — like water conservation and technology advances.

Do You Need a Prep Sink?

The kitchen sink has for eons been for both food preparation and cleanup. For a while these shared the same sink, then the side-by-side sink came along and there was room for both prep and cleanup.

Nowadays, as the foodie trend has skyrocketed — both by going out to eat at restaurants and cooking at home — DIY Top Chefs are incorporating equipment once found in only professional kitchens like a dedicated prep sink. (Here are a few images to give you an idea of what a separate prep sink is.)

A dedicated prep sink is used for rinsing food during preparation and, later, for clean up and disposing of food waste. Does it make sense to install prep sink in your kitchen? To decide this, you need to answer a few questions about how you use your kitchen.

  • Do you often have more than one person working in the kitchen at a time?
  • When preparing a meal is your main sink often full of dishes?
  • Do people cut in your way to wash their hands or rinse something off while you are using the sink?
  • Do you feel like the main sink area isn’t clean enough for fresh food preparation? One cook we know is hyper afraid of contamination from meats and insists that every knife, fork, plate — anything and everything — involved in meat preparation is washed separate.

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then a dedicated prep sink is probably a good idea. But can your kitchen — and its plumbing infrastructure — accommodate?

If you’re unsure, you can do a couple of things:

  • consult with a Decatur or Hartselle, AL plumbing contractor, who knows not only the plumbing side of the equation but should be a certified general contractor who can provide any construction modifications needed to install a stand-alone prep sink
  • consult with a general contractor and a professional plumber (the dual consult is needed if the Decatur or Hartselle, AL plumber is not a licensed plumbing contractor, who can perform general contracting duties. There is a difference between a plumber and plumbing contractor.)

More Thoughts on Installing a Prep Sink

If you want to install a dedicated prep sink, it should have waste disposal. These sinks are used for much more than washing off lettuce and preparing fruits and vegetables. Stems, cores and other cut off bits roll down the drain, where they sit until you turn on the garbage disposer. If you don’t have one in the new prep sink, you’ll have to scoop out the waste and throw into the trash.

A prep sink also should have a faucet — one with a pull-out or side sprayer is best. One-handled faucets are recommended so you can “bump it” with the back of your hand or a pot if your hands are otherwise full.

Something else to consider: Put a filtered water faucet there because this sink may be cleaner and possibly more convenient for someone getting a glass of drinking water.

The location of the prep sink is paramount. Can it be tied into existing plumbing? If not, you’ll need to work with a Decatur or Hartselle, AL plumber to plumb the prep sink (and include a garbage disposal) into the home’s plumbing infrastructure.

Prep Sink Spacing Requirements

The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) — yes, there is an association for this — recommends counter space on either side of the sink, specifically 24 inches to one side and 18 inches to the other.

Spacing, however, is up to you and your cooking style. Some Decatur or Hartselle, AL plumbers have installed prep stinks with only four inches of spacing on one side because it doesn’t split up valuable counter space that can be used for food prep. Asymmetrical might be easier for people — the kids — to access without getting Mom’s way.

Instant Hot Water Dispensers

This is another Top Chef-at-home nice-to-have. Instant hot water dispensers (examples) deliver hot water without delay and at higher temperatures than standard faucets deliver.

In the world of plumbing, however, there are three different types of hot water “service” and these are often confused because they use a lot of the same terminology and do roughly the same thing.

  • The first type of instant hot water service is whole house instant hot water, the water ready to pour out of any faucet, tub, shower, or appliance. This type of hot water is achieved by circulating hot water with a pump throughout the hot water water pipes and back to the water heater. It keeps the water warm because it is continually recirculated from the water heater.

A second way this service can be achieved is with point-of-use water heaters (images) serving remote parts of the home. Small point-of use water heaters are typically installed in the the immediate area of a sink and heat water on demand whenever the faucet is turned on.

A third way to provide immediate hot water service is with a small, auxiliary water heater. Hot water may arrive quickly enough in one part of the house, but in another part, cold water may run too long before hot water arrives. This can be remedied with an auxiliary water heater positioned to serve the far end of the home. The water heater typically holds only a few gallons, but has enough water for short-term usage. For a longer period of demand, the hot water from the main water heater should arrive before the local hot water tank is depleted.

  • A second type of hot water service people think of as synonymous with instant hot water is tankless water heaters. While tankless water heaters are also called on-demand water heaters and they do produce hot water nearly instantly, they do not deliver hot water instantly, a common misconception. They make hot water, on demand, and then deliver in exactly the same way as a traditional tank water heater.
  • Finally, the instant hot water dispenser provides near boiling water to an auxiliary faucet, typically mounted near to the kitchen sink faucet. This service is designed fto provide hot water for food or drink preparation. It provides hot water on demand and contains a small store of hot water. This type of water dispenser uses a small electric heater to heat a tank of water. The tank is typically installed in the sink cabinet under the kitchen sink.

The instant hot water dispenser is a convenience that many say they would never do without once having used one. The convenience of preparing coffee, tea or other hot beverages is unrivaled. For use with cooking, it can save time by starting with water that already near boiling and can quickly be brought up to cooking temperature on the stove. These dispensers are all electric and use between 500 and 1500 watts; the higher wattage typically providing more and faster heating. Operating costs are low because actual usage is relatively small.

A drawback to this device is that they tend to have low output rates, so filling an eight ounce cup can take about eight seconds. A second drawback is that they do present a scalding risk. Scalding occurs around 140° and these dispensers produce water at about 190-200°. Dispensers can be bought with the heating unit and faucet as a package or faucets can be bought separately and be paired with heating units from another manufacturer. When selecting, be certain as to whether the heating tank is included in the price. Prices for hot water dispenser range from about $120 to $400 and can be installed by a DIYer or a Decatur or Hartselle, AL plumber or plumbing contractor during a Kitchen Makeover.

If you will be buying a hot water dispenser, consider getting one with water filtration to get the best tasting water. A drawback to an integral water filter is that replacement filters may be expensive or difficult to find. A potentially better alternative is to install a filtration system for the entire kitchen or home — another subject you can discuss with the Decatur or Hartselle, AL plumber.


Choosing a dishwasher and waste disposal.