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Spring Cleaning? Don’t Forget Your Plumbing

This article can now be found at thePlumber.com

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Make Saving Water Part of Your Back-To-School Routine

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Any parent knows “back-to-school” is one of the most chaotic times of the whole year. You’re trying to establish new bedtime routines so everyone is up and ready on time in the mornings, battling the fall clothing migration as you store summer items and retrieve fall items only to realize that none of the school clothes your children could wear in May will fit them now, and getting everything relating to backpack organization, school lunches, and art supplies ready (which theoretically is supposed to make your life easier…hahahahaha…) – so we understand that water conservation really kind of takes a back burner during all of this. However, it really doesn’t have to, and since we strongly believe in teaching children good water-saving habits, we’ve compiled this list of five simple ways you can work water conservation into your new school year routine. Wanna know the best part? Many of these tips will also save you some money!

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1. Use a timer for showers. Not only will this help save water by limiting everyone to 10 minutes or less in the shower, it can also help you keep everyone focused and on time in the mornings. If you shower in the evening, having a timer can also help speed things along at bedtime. Replace your existing shower head with a water-saving shower head for more water savings.

2. Reuse your towels. When you get out of the shower, you’re clean right? Instead of tossing towels into the hamper after each use, hang them up to dry and use them again tomorrow. Buy robe hooks or re-purpose an old coat rack to hang in the bathroom and designate a hook for everyone. Even most younger children can hang a towel on a hook much more easily than trying to fold and hang over a traditional bar, and it keeps the bathroom more organized and looking nicer than having a bunch of skewed, bunched up towels half hanging off the towel bars.

3. Be mindful of your other laundry. Some days you have to try on everything in your closet before you figure out what you really want to wear…or that you and your tween daughter both agree is appropriate for school…But are all those clothes dirty? Of course not! What about those jeans you wore yesterday? They could probably be worn again before needing to be washed. When undressing, evaluate what is actually dirty and what could be worn again before being washed, and you could save not only tons of water but lots of time and energy by doing less laundry. And who doesn’t want to do LESS laundry??? When you actually do laundry, also remember to set the appropriate load size and try to use cold water or try line drying to save more energy and water.

4. Encourage healthy eating and drinking water. We’re sure you do this for your kids already, but did you know that by eating fresh foods and drinking water you’re actually helping to save water and energy? glassofwater Generally, it takes a lot more water to produce processed foods than it does to actually grow fresh foods. Additionally, purchasing locally grown fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, eggs, cheese, etc. cuts back on the amount of water needed to transport foods. We understand that not all towns or cities have a local farmers’ market and that sometimes this can be cost prohibitive, but it’s a choice worth considering and with careful planning and budgeting can be a positive, healthy change for your family. Another quick healthy tip that can potentially save you hundreds of gallons of water per year is to put a pitcher of water in the fridge for drinking instead of waiting for the tap to run cool. With this method, you can also add fresh fruits like strawberries, limes, or pineapple to infuse flavor in the water to help encourage kids to reach for a glass of water instead of sugary juices or sodas.

5. Consider the water footprint of products you use every day and try to make some changes. It’s a complex system, but water and energy are very closely tied together and it is sometimes difficult to understand how much water is really used to make the things we use all the time. Wherever you can, find ways to reuse or recycle things, or to create your own reusable items. Cloth shopping bags, reusable lunch baggies or containers, and reusable water bottles can replace their single-use alternatives to help save water. Now, we hear you saying – but doesn’t it take water to create and wash those too? Yes, it does, but the water consumed in creating and washing these reusable items is significantly less than what is wasted to create new single-use items. It’s estimated that it takes about 24 gallons of water to make one pound of plastic. Even if you buy a plastic reusable water bottle, you’re still helping to save water since that 24 gallons only has to be expended once instead of every single time you need water on the go.

If we focus only on one thing – packing lunches for school – think of all the ways you can save water…

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By making simple changes in our daily routines and making a concentrated effort to really think about how we use water, we can all start saving this most precious of resources. And although it might seem difficult at times, remember that every drop counts! Your small changes DO make a BIG difference!

Want to learn more about saving water around the house and find water-saving innovations to help you out? Check out our Guide to Water-Saving Plumbing Products.

Which Drain Cleaner Should I Use?

When most people experience a clogged drain, they automatically reach for one of two things – the phone so they can call a plumber or a chemical drain cleaner. If this is their first time dealing with a clog, many people want a recommendation for which chemical drain cleaner is best and what is the best way to use it. While we always advocate calling a plumber for any plumbing issue you don’t feel you can handle yourself (and some that you think you can handle and shouldn’t), we NEVER recommend using any kind of chemical drain cleaner for a number of reasons.

1. They are harmful to your and your family’s health. If some of the drain cleaner were to splash on your skin or in your eyes, or if you inhaled too much of it, you could potentially experience serious injury – not to mention the potential for young children or pets to accidentally imbibe them with fatal consequences.

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2. Everything you put down the drain eventually ends up in our environment somehow, whether that be in our groundwater, oceans and rivers, atmosphere or soil. Chemical drain cleaners aren’t any safer for our
environment than they are for our bodies.

3. Chemical drain cleaners work by eating away at
whatever is causing the clog. It just makes sense that anything that caustic is also eating away at your plumbing system. While certain pipe materials like PVC or galvanized steel might hold up a little longer than copper, all pipes exposed to caustic chemicals will eventually start to wear down and you’ll experience leaks from holes in your pipes that could require extensive, costly repairs or a complete re-plumbing of your home.

So what are the alternatives? Well, before you decide to call a plumber, we recommend grabbing a good sturdy plunger or a drain snake and trying to remove the clog yourself. If neither of those methods work, try a half and half mixture of baking soda and vinegar and let it sit overnight. If that STILL doesn’t work, we suggest calling a plumber. They are experienced in removing all kinds of clogs – and have the expertise and equipment to do it without damaging your fixtures or pipes.

Once your drain is clear (or before you get a clog!), there are several things you can do to help prevent future clogs. Regular drain cleaning should become part of your home maintenance routine, and the best part is that it’s easy and inexpensive. For a brief tutorial on how you can clean your drains and tips for preventing clogs, check out our Guide to Easy Drain Maintenance and do your part to protect your plumbing system, your family’s health, and the environment!

Read more:
How to Unclog Your Toilet
Public Service Announcement: Save Our Sewers!
10 Tips for Preventing Toilet Troubles

How To Install a Kitchen Faucet – Video

Plumbing is intimidating for most people, especially when it comes to the kitchen. Think about it – you may have your main kitchen sink with a faucet, a prep sink with its own faucet, a pot filler faucet near the stove, a dishwasher, a refrigerator ice maker, drinking water filters, and more going on in there – and many of these things could be connected to one another. However, plenty of the typical things homeowners want to do with the plumbing in their kitchens are easy enough for a proficient DIY’er to handle.

One of the easiest kitchen upgrades you can do yourself is installing a new faucet. While certain situations may be trickier than others, faucet installation isn’t rocket science. Join our go-to guy, Mike, as he walks you through everything you need to know to make your kitchen faucet installation go smoothly.

 

5 Easy Plumbing New Year’s Resolutions

The New Year is a positive time for most of us. We’re inspired with hope by the idea of a fresh start and what the year may bring. Then there’s all the New Year’s Resolutions. So many of us resolve to save money or get our bodies in shape – but what about also getting your plumbing in shape this year? Here at PlumbingSupply.com® we’ve come up with 5 nifty plumbing-related resolutions that we think everyone should try over the course of the new year!

 

Drawing of trees 1. Go green.

Water is one of our most precious natural resources – we cannot live without it, and yet there is a very limited supply. If you’re thinking of doing a kitchen, bathroom, or laundry room remodel this year, choose water-efficient faucets and low flow shower heads or place a point-of-use water heater in areas where you consistently run the taps while waiting for the water to heat up. Outdoors, you can install a drip-irrigation system instead of a new sprinkler or consider setting up your own rainwater harvesting system to collect water to use in watering plants or washing your car.

 

picture of toilet2. Fix your toilet.

It can be helpful to think of your toilet as another appliance in your home. Anything with moving parts can break or wear down – and that includes the moving parts of your toilet. Save water and avoid costly problems later with good maintenance this year.

 

image of water heater tank 3. Flush your water heater.

Ideally, your water heater should last between 10 and 15 years, but without proper maintenance many fail after 5 or 6 years, leaving you frustrated and sometimes causing significant damage to your home. An annual flush and all-around check to make sure all the parts are functioning well can help you avoid cold showers, save you money, and extend the life of your water heater.

 

image of drain4. Keep your drains clog free.

Nobody wants to deal with the hassle (and often major expense) associated with clogged drains. This year, take steps to prevent clogs before they happen by placing mesh screens or strainers in your sinks, tub or shower, etc., not putting anything down the drain or toilet that doesn’t belong (i.e. grease, baby wipes, razors, etc.), and by using non-corrosive, septic-friendly bacterial drain cleaners regularly.

 

image of sand separator5. Install a water filter.

While we’re blessed with an abundance of clean drinkable water in the United States, there are still some things we can and should filter out of our water, like sand, dirt, and unhealthy chemicals. Whether you need a whole house sand separator to keep your drains, faucets, and water heater free of sediment build-up, or just want to eliminate chlorine in your shower with a filtered shower head, purer water is always a good thing.

 

We would like to encourage you throughout the new year to follow these and other plumbing maintenance resolutions you may form, for the benefit of yourself and your family, your neighbors, and our environment. As always, PlumbingSupply.com® wishes you a safe and happy New Year!

 

Finding a “Good” Faucet

At its most basic, a “good” faucet is one that does its job well. That is, lets water out when you turn it on, and doesn’t let water out when it’s turned off. Okay, so that’s not all we’re looking for when we look for a “good” faucet. If it was, we could install a hose bibb in the kitchen and call it good, right?

So, let’s try again: What makes a good quality faucet? You know, something we’d be proud for others to see in the kitchen or bath and will enjoy for years? Ah, that’s a little more tricky, but we’ll figure it out together.

Example of a single hole Danze kitchen faucetA good, quality faucet, has almost nothing to do with the style of the faucet, the finish of the faucet, or its location. Kitchen faucets are not inherently “better” than laundry faucets, and single hole faucets are not automatically “better” than centerset faucets. A high quality faucet functions well over the years, has repair parts readily available when maintenance is required as well as other support from the manufacturer. Let’s take a minute and go into these a little more.

Consider what the faucet is made of. In most cases, quality faucets are made from brass or stainless steel, but the material composition does not guarantee the quality. If possible, look at the faucet construction in person. Are the threads cut neatly, or do they seem a little off? Does the swivel spout move easily? These things can give you a feel for the quality and workmanship.

Examine the finish. Does it have flaws? Is it consistent? Is it a PVD finish or a living finish? These are things that can help tell you what to expect from the finish in the years to come.

Try looking for replacement parts for any faucet you consider. If you cannot find them, you may have problems down the road when you try to repair your faucet. Will you need to ship the faucet to the manufacturer for a cartridge change, or can you do it at home? If your faucet is an investment you plan to keep for the next decade or three, you will eventually need to repair it. If you plan to change out your faucet in the next few years, it may not be as much of an issue.

Check out the manufacturer of the faucet. A well-known manufacturer may or may not make a “better” faucet, but they might have better support, which typically means less frustration if a problem does occur with the faucet. Talk to your local plumbing house, installers, and anyone you know with that brand and/or style of faucet to get their impressions and learn from their experiences. If a faucet has a great looking lifetime warranty, but the manufacturer or retailer is unresponsive, the warranty may not be worth as much to you. On the other hand, a warranty that only lasts a few years, but with a manufacturer that has a great history of taking care of their customers may be more useful, even after the warranty has expired.

Example of a pre-rinse style kitchen faucetNaturally, no matter how “good” the faucet is, if you don’t like the way it looks, you still won’t be happy. Keep in mind that many manufacturers make visually similar styles, so you have choices there, as well.

Whatever faucet you choose, we always recommend keeping the manual, parts breakdown, and any other paperwork safe for future reference, just in case.

Your turn: what’s the best or worst faucet you’ve encountered and why?