Plumber’s smart design saves water

Wattapac designer, Charles Watt and his business partner, Charles Beresford with the Wattapac device.

With water usage restricted to 87 litres a person a day, a new cost-effective product has been designed to help plumbers save as much as 1 000 litres of water a day.

Wattapac was specifically designed to be used by plumbers during maintenance and replacement of geysers, and does not only save water, but is energy efficient and reduces labour time.

With Day Zero, the day when the taps run dry, looming on the horizon, Charles Watt of Watt’s Plumbing in Capricorn business park in Muizenberg wanted to do his bit to save water.

“I just woke up one night with this idea for saving massive amounts of water,” he said.

As a plumber, he regularly does geyser replacements and maintenance work on geysers. It is often necessary to drain the hot water from the geyser. This can be anything from 150 litres to 300 litres of water depending on the geyser size, although 150 litres is standard size for most households, and all this water is wasted. Once replacement or maintenance is completed, the geyser is normally filled up with fresh water again.

Wattapac consists of a reinforced bladder with high frequency welded seams that can hold 200 litres of water up to 80 degrees Celsius, a booster pump, valves and hoses as well as a convenient carry bag.

The bladder is rolled out onto the floor or a flat surface like a yoga mat and the hose from the bladder is connected to the geyser. The pump is then switched on and water is pumped from the geyser into the bladder. It takes about 15 minutes. The plumber is then free to replace or do maintenance work on the geyser and once completed, the valve on the device is switched and water is pumped from the bladder back into the geyser in about 10 minutes.

This device will not only save water, but will drastically reduce labour time, as draining water from a geyser can in some instances take up to two hours.

Once a geyser is refilled in the standard way, the fresh water is heated up electrically, but using the Wattapac, hot water can be pumped back into the geyser so electricity is saved.

After coming up with the idea, Mr Watt partnered with Charles Beresford, who owned a factory manufacturing medical products for more than 40 years.

“I drew up my idea, Charles liked it and two days later we had a demo model,” he said.

The two were amazed at how well the device worked and have since had the design patented and locally manufactured.

Mr Watt said he has had good feedback from plumbers who have bought the Wattapac.

Gavin Long, owner of South Peninsula Plumbing, agrees that the Wattapac is a great product and owns two.

As his business is part of the insurance contractors panel, they work, on average, on about 12 to 18 geysers a week and save anything from 750 litres to1 000 litres of water a day.

Mr Long said the product is also helpful at households where Aqualock water meters have been installed to restrict water usage.

“If a family of four has 350 litres of water to their disposal per day and 200 litres of the 350 litres is used to fill a cylinder after maintenance, the family is left with very little water.

“The Wattapac solves that problem,” he said.

Zara Nicholson, spokesperson for Mayor Patricia de Lille, said the City supports all industry-approved innovative products that will ensure that Cape Town and its industries adapt and thrive irrespective of the worst drought that it has ever experienced. Partnership is very important and the City encourages all residents and businesses to help it to get through the drought.