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Despite their many advantages, commercial sensor taps have received mixed reviews from architects and contractors due to having experienced unreliability issues. Sensor taps not working in a washroom after a year or two raise concerns about the usability and effectiveness of touch free technology in washroom design.

Unfortunately, the reputation of sensor taps is tarnished by subpar washroom products, leading architects and designers to seek simpler alternatives, like manual taps, that offer reliable functionality.

Dolphin Solutions understands the importance of delivering reliable and user friendly washroom products, allowing architects and designers to confidently integrate touch free taps into their modern washroom projects.

This article aims to address sensor taps not working in a washroom and what you can do to avoid this inconvenient and frustrating experience from happening after project handover.

Row of commercial washroom sensor taps with two running water and one one is not working

Reasons for sensor tap problems

Sensor taps not working in a washroom at all could be due to several reasons. Click the problem below and jump to how you can avoid this from happening to your sensor taps.

  1. Battery or power failure
  2. Poor quality sensor taps
  3. Slow delay in time
  4. Activated security timer
  5. Inadequate cleaning
  6. Sensor visibility

1. Battery or power failure

Let’s begin by addressing one of the most apparent causes of sensor taps not working in a washroom.

In the case of battery powered sensor taps, the batteries may have drained or become faulty, leading to a loss of power. This can happen if the batteries are not replaced regularly or if they are of low quality.

For transformer powered sensor taps, power cuts can occur due to issues with the electrical supply or wiring in a poorly manufactured circuit board. A tripped circuit breaker, a blown fuse, or a fault in the electrical system can cause the power to be cut off.

How to avoid this:

It is recommended to choose a transformer operated sensor tap that is connected to a circuit board that effectively and reliably performs its intended functions while minimising energy consumption and maximising performance.

Transformers provide a continuous power supply, eliminating the need for battery replacements and are more cost-effective in the long run, ensuring consistent performance without the impact of battery depletion.

2. Poor quality sensor taps

There are numerous inexpensive touch free taps available on the market that are poor quality and have sensors that do not last.

During the value engineering process, there may be a temptation to downgrade the specifications and purchase sensor taps that are very cheap. However, specifiers are actually doing themselves a disservice by choosing such taps because they are of poor quality and have a tendency to break down within a year or two.

Therefore, sensor taps not working in a washroom could be due to its cheap material make up and defective wiring.

How to avoid this:

Prioritise quality over cost during the value engineering process. Instead of opting for inexpensive taps that are prone to break down, specifiers should consider investing in higher quality sensor taps that are built to last.

Specifiers should opt for reputable manufacturers or suppliers known for producing durable and reliable sensor taps. Thoroughly assessing the materials, wiring, and overall construction of the taps is crucial to avoid purchasing low quality washroom products.

High quality sensor taps not only offer better reliability but also prove to be more cost-effective in the long run. This benefit extends to clients, landlords, and tenants, as they experience reduced maintenance and operational costs.

3. Slow delay in time

Have you ever stepped into a washroom to try to wash your hands under a sensor tap and as you put your hands underneath the spout, nothing happens?

This can be due to the tap settings or a poor quality sensor which can contribute to a slow delay in response time. A slow delay in time refers to the time it takes for the sensor to activate and switch on the water flow.

As a result, users may find themselves waving their hands in front of the tap quickly, expecting an immediate flow of water, only to be disappointed when nothing comes out. Alternatively, they can patiently keep their hands under the tap for a few seconds, and eventually, the water will start flowing.

However, having to wait for 1 or 2 seconds with your hands under a sensor tap is far too long before the water starts flowing, and this contradicts the intended operation of sensor taps.

How to avoid this:

Choose a sensor tap specifically designed to pulsate approximately 3 to 4 times per second, guaranteeing minimal delay in activating the tap and ensuring prompt water flow.

With this choice, users will never have to wait for more than half a second to activate the tap and have water come out.

A mere split second of motion in front of the sensor is all it takes to trigger the tap and initiate a steady flow of water.

4. Activated security timer

Another potential reason for sensor taps not working in a washroom is the presence of tissue, gum, or any other object obstructing the sensor. In such cases, the tap will not activate until the object is removed.

Sensor taps often include built in security timeout features, which are settings designed to automatically shut off the power to prevent excessive water usage. These features can be activated if the sensor detects abnormal behaviour, such as continuous activation resulting in a constant flow of water.

How to avoid this:

By selecting sensor taps equipped with integrated SMART washroom technology, immediate notifications can be sent to the Building Management System (BMS), alerting facilities teams to any failures or functional irregularities.

Once notified, cleaning teams can promptly address the affected tap, removing any obstructing objects.

After the obstructing object is removed, a quick reset will promptly take effect, enabling the tap to efficiently resume normal operation.

5. Inadequate cleaning

Insufficient cleaning can result in sensor taps not working in a washroom.

Limescale, a common problem in areas with hard water, can accumulate over time on the surface of the tap and its sensor. This limescale build up can interfere with the sensor’s ability to detect motion accurately, leading to the touch sensor not working.

Additionally, soap residue from regular handwashing can also accumulate, further exacerbating problems with taps in washrooms.

When limescale or soap residue blocks the sensor or interferes with its operation, it can disrupt the security timer that is designed to control the tap’s operation. As a result, the sensor may not register movement properly, or it may trigger false readings, ultimately causing a broken sensor tap.

How to avoid this:

Facilities teams play a vital role in ensuring that the cleaning regime is consistently followed.

They should receive training on the proper cleaning procedures and the appropriate cleaning products to use. It is crucial to make them aware of the significance of their role in preserving the functionality and longevity of the sensor taps.

Regular inspections should be conducted to identify any issues or cleaning requirements, and prompt action should be taken to address them.

6. Sensor visibility

The most popular commercial washroom sensor tap design has a sensor either in the spout or underneath it. This positioning may create confusion for some individuals, as they may not know precisely where to position their hands or how to activate the water flow.

When users are unable to locate or identify the sensor on a touch free tap, they may mistakenly assume that the sensor tap is not working properly, especially after multiple attempts to find the sensor by waving their hands under the tap, yet no water comes out.

How to avoid this:

If designers have concerns regarding the user experience with hidden sensors, an alternative solution is to consider sensor taps where the sensor is visible on the body of the tap. This option allows users to easily identify the sensor and enhances their understanding and interaction with the tap.

However, it is advisable to choose sensor taps with hidden sensors in busy locations like transportation hubs and public environments. This design helps to reduce the risk of tampering and minimise the likelihood of users touching the sensor area, thereby reducing potential germ transmission.

Also remember, when working on a washroom project for an office block, where users interact with the taps daily, they become familiar with the sensor taps regardless of where the sensor is placed (underneath the tap, in the spout, or located behind a mirror system). Users will typically grasp how the sensor taps operate after just one or two visits, and subsequently feel comfortable using them.

Counter-mounted sensor tap

Have you experienced faulty sensor taps recently?

If you ever come across sensor taps not working in a washroom, we encourage you to notify us by capturing a picture or video of the issue. Simply send the media along with the tap’s location, and in case you are unsure of the brand or manufacturer, we can help identify the tap and provide the necessary solution and support to help you resolve the issue quickly.

Check out this video to learn why your sensor taps are not working: