Occasionally one of us in our house leaves the hot tap/faucet running, and sometimes this can be overnight, which is costly.

Any good ideas on how to prevent this?

So far I've thought of these:

  1. Set up some kind of electronic alarm which detects heat or running water and sounds after a few minutes. But this could be quite hard for me to set up, and would probably use batteries all the time - more cost and work to monitor and change occasionally.

  2. Set up some kind of simple alarm which detects heat or running water without much electronics (e.g. a rubber band on the hot water pipe, or the waste pipe, which should tighten as it heats up, thus triggering a switch which completes a circuit and sounds an alarm). I like this kind of idea, but my tests so far show no noticable change in length of a rubber band after running the hot tap for a while, when wrapped around these pipes, so I'm not sure I can get this to work. An alternative could be to use metal which bends in one direction when heated (I think this has 2 strips of different types of metal which expand at different rates with heat, glued together size-by-side).

  3. Install some kind of whistle on the taps, so they make a noise when they run. But aside from the irritating noise (especially at night), I doubt these would work with very slow water flows (e.g. which could even be a fast drip).

  4. Prevent people from using the hot tap (e.g. duct tape the hot tap handle). Not very user-friendly, and then they'll probably leave the cold tap running, which is also not ideal.


  • 2
    there's always yhe solution msny public bathrooms use, that being a valve with built-in timer...
    – keshlam
    Dec 17, 2015 at 5:46
  • True, keshiam, I forgot to list that as a solution that I had thought of some years ago, but aside from the cost (purchase and installation), I don't like that kind of tap, and I wasn't able to find them when I rang plumbing shops.
    – Terry
    Dec 17, 2015 at 6:25
  • Assuming this problem does not happen every night and is not going to be a problem a long periods of time (e.g. multiple years or decades), why not just double check it is not running before you fall asleep? Our dog eats butter while we leave the house (entire sticks) and out of all our proposals of restraint and reprimand after pounds of butter were eaten, simply making sure the butter is up in a cupboard and therefore unavailable was the simplest solution. I propose the same for your problem. Check the faucet as req'd and turn it off if it is on. :)
    – Damon
    Dec 17, 2015 at 6:37
  • Thanks Damon, I'm all in favour of simple solutions, but unfortunately the most common time this happens is at night, after we've all gone to bed, when people get out of bed to go to the toilet. For example, some old people in the house get out of bed several times (each) throughout the night to use the toilet.
    – Terry
    Dec 17, 2015 at 7:49
  • 3
    you are looking for a technical solution for a social problem. Instead educate the person leaving the tap running. Dec 18, 2015 at 10:57

5 Answers 5


The very best solution for this is to install the newest type of faucet that has an infrared sensor that detects your hands near the faucet and turns on the water. When the hands leave the area of the faucet the water turns back off.

These generally operate on a battery so no special wiring is needed and as I understand the batteries last a good length of time. You can find many examples of these faucets online by using search terms of:

Automatic Faucet

Sensor Faucet

Touchless Faucet

  • A related article: sfgate.com/homeandgarden/sweatequity/article/…
    – isherwood
    Dec 17, 2015 at 14:58
  • Thanks Michael. Yes, that is quite a nice solution, but I'm not sure I'm willing to invest in the cost of the taps or their installation at this stage.
    – Terry
    Dec 18, 2015 at 0:54
  • Costly tap(s) once, costly overnight forgetful water running how many times...do the math.
    – Ecnerwal
    Dec 18, 2015 at 1:06
  • Yes, Ecnerwal, but if someone can give me a simple/cheap alternative, then that might be better maths for me. Also, most of these taps have 1 flow rate, which is not ideal, and the ones which handle hot+cold seem to be very expensive, from what I've seen. And I'm not sure how long we'll be in this house.
    – Terry
    Dec 18, 2015 at 6:37

My mom is 103, blind, deaf and easily confused (can't see nor hear water running). With one motion, she uses her left and right hands to twist left and right faucet knobs on and off. Sometimes when she turns off the knobs, she twists both hands the same direction which turns the hot water on instead of off. I asked her to use one hand only, which would stop the brain confusion, but she forgets. I have found a simple hack that seems to work (so far): Use 2 rubber bands: Tie one band in a knot around one side of the other band (will look like a bow on a ribbon). Stretch the rubber band around the hot water faucet knob. When Mom feels the rubber bands on the knob, she is reminded to turn the knob off and feel for water running.

  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. Thanks for the answer; keep 'em coming. And, you should probably take our tour so you'll know how best to contribute here. Sep 28, 2019 at 19:33

In the "same idea as Micheal's answer but Old School", there are the Touchless Taps of Yore. Which were in at least one building at my old school, and quite brilliant.

Two foot pedals side by side on the floor were connected to a linkage - you pressed down for water and went to left or right for hot or cold. They were spring-loaded so they shut off when you removed your foot. They would almost certainly be much harder to find than the electronic approach, but perhaps more easily hacked together at home, depending on your skills. I cannot find a picture of this style.

With a modern single-lever faucet you might be able to use just one pedal, with the right linkage.

More currently available models seem to have moved the valve to the pedal, probably easier to manage than the elaborate chrome pedal-to-valve linkage I recall. An image, I'm not associated with it nor endorsing it.

foot faucet control

These are very nice in that you don't have to touch a tap handle with your dirty hands, clean your hands, and then touch the tap handle you touched with your dirty hands, or figure out how to wash the tap handle and your hands at the same time.

  • Thanks Ecnerwal. More than I want to invest in, but interesting concept.
    – Terry
    Dec 20, 2015 at 1:13

What about an LED light that is triggered by the water flow as a warning to those who might not realize the tap is still running?

  • 1
    While this seems like a good idea, could you please suggest how to connect one up?
    – Chenmunka
    Jan 14, 2017 at 18:32
  • Months later... As Chenmunka asked months ago, HOW would it be triggered by the water flow, Juile? If I could get everything setup so a LED was triggered, then I think I'd swap the LED for a beeper (probably on a 30 sec delay so it doesn't beep while washing hands) so it can still be noticed after the user looks/walks away.
    – Terry
    Apr 17, 2017 at 4:58

I've just mistakenly left the (outdoor) hose running for hours, when I turned it on to fill a cup size portion. I was thinking that a mechanical whistle sound that blows continuously while the faucet is on could have stopped me from distractingly walking away. (Sorry, No research, just brainstorming.) Indoor sound alarms might wake up the whole family, inconveniently, but that would likely achieve the goal of getting the water turned off.

  • Good suggestion, Peter, and that should work in many cases, but the usual problem I have is when the flow is very slow, and it would probably be hard for that kind of flow rate to make a whistle sound.
    – Terry
    May 12, 2019 at 21:29

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