Tag Archives: water conservation

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.

Can I Use a Brick In My Toilet to Reduce Water Waste?

A lot of people are finally starting to realize the impact humans have on our clean water supply and have become more conscientious about how they use water and how much water they use. One question we see frequently asked online is – can I put a brick in my toilet tank to help conserve water?

This is a valid question for anyone wanting to save water, as the toilet uses nearly 1/3 of our indoor water consumption, and technically, yes you could…but we really don’t like to recommend that. While we here at PlumbingSupply.com truly care about water conservation and try to do our part to save water and help others to save water, putting a brick in your toilet isn’t the way to do it.

All toilets manufactured after the early 90’s use only 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf) or less, with many of the newest models using 1.28gpf. Older toilets do use significantly more water, with most being 3.5gpf, but some using up to 6gpf – that’s a lot of clean water being flushed – but it’s important to understand that these toilets were specifically designed to use that much water and they typically won’t flush properly with less. And yes, we completely understand that your toilet LOOKS just like the low flow toilets…from the outside…and that this can be confusing for many people. Trust us, the inner workings can be significantly different. An extra bend or an extra inch of height in the toilet trap can mean a lot when you’re moving waste with only water and gravity.

Same model, made in different years. Can you tell the difference?

Old Toilet

Old Toilet

New Toilet

New Toilet

For sanitary reasons, you really want all that waste to be disposed of properly and not stuck in your toilet trap or your home’s sewage line. So, it’s important that the correct amount of water is used to help that waste move along the sewage lines and help prevent clogging – which means you really shouldn’t use a brick, or anything else for that matter, to reduce the amount of water in your tank.

We’re aware that there are plenty of articles out there telling you otherwise – that it’s perfectly fine to displace the water in your toilet tank to help conserve and that your toilet will flush either way. Which is true, in most cases. Your toilet WILL flush, but it won’t be doing so effectively. And that opens up the potential for serious problems in your home or community sewage system down the road.

If you’re concerned about water conservation and have an older toilet with a higher flush rate, we strongly recommend you replace the toilet with a newer, water-saving model. That is the most effective method of saving water when it comes to toilets. Also, regardless of whether your toilet is new or old, making sure you check periodically for leaks and repair them quickly can also save significant amounts of water.

However, IF you choose not to replace your older toilet and you choose to use the “brick method”, it is a better idea to take a plastic water bottle and fill it up with sand or small pebbles and place that in the tank instead of a brick. Even a brick wrapped in plastic can break down in the tank, especially if you get a hole or loose seal in the plastic wrap.

Want more water-saving ideas? Check out our Guide to Water-Saving Plumbing Products for tips to help you conserve!

 

5 Easy Plumbing New Year’s Resolutions

This post can now be found at thePlumber.com

Why We Chose Tankless Water Heaters

The best reviews always come from people who have used a product over the long term, right? Well, we sell plumbing and plumbing related products, but we also use many of the products we sell.

Photo of the Eemax EZ95 point of use water heaterSo we think we’re in a great position to offer our opinion on the Eemax EX95T point of use thermostatic electric tankless water heater.  We have had two Eemax EX95T electric tankless water heaters installed in our building since 2001 and we love them. They work great and have needed service very rarely. Elements have been very easy to replace and last quite a while, even though both units are used at least a dozen times daily (like many bathroom sinks). Best of all, they do exactly what we need them to do – bring water to a good temperature for washing hands.

So, why are we so happy with our Eemax EX95T units? We knew exactly what we needed the water heaters to do, and knowing  how tankless water heaters work, we were able to choose the best unit for our needs. Since we got what we expected, we have been thrilled. Make sense?

How do you know if an electric tankless water heater is for you? Well, there’s a few main points to consider.

The first thing to consider is your needs. How hot does the water need to be and how much of it needs to be heated? If you need 80 gallons per minute at 140 degrees, your needs are dramatically different than someone who needs 1 gallon per minute at around body temperature.

The next thing to consider is electrical. What does electricity have to do with plumbing? In this case, you need an electrical supply available to meet the needs of the heater. Many point of use tankless water heaters can simply use standard 120V while most whole house units need dedicated 240V circuits, like most major appliances.

Example of the guts of a whole house unitThe main things to consider with any electric tankless water heater is the “rise.” It takes a certain amount of energy to raise the temperature of water, and an electric tankless water heater only draws a certain amount of energy to heat water. So, if the tankless water heater you’re considering has a rise of 30 degrees at it’s minimum flow rate of a half gallon per minute, and your incoming water temperature is 50 degrees Fahrenheit, then the water will come out at 80 degrees Fahrenheit at 1/2 gallon per minute. With me so far? When you compare that 80 degrees Fahrenheit with the average human body temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, you can guess that this water will feel very cool to the touch, which would make this hypothetical tankless water heater a good choice for a restroom sink, but not so great for providing a hot shower.

Another thing to remember with tankless water heaters is their minimum flow rate. To prevent the water heater from prematurely burning out the element, tankless water heaters all have minimum flow rates, usually around a half gallon per minute for point of use heaters, which means that a dribble out of a faucet will never get hot. Considering a dribble from a faucet even on a tank style water heater will not get hot before you get tired of waiting, this doesn’t make much of a difference for most people. However, if you have an extremely low flow faucet, you will need to pay greater attention to the minimum flow rate of tankless water heaters, while people with higher flow faucets will need to pay more attention to the temperature rise at higher flow rates.

Now, the Eemax Ex95T we installed will turn on at .75 gallons per minute and has a rise of 65 degrees Fahrenheit at a flow rate of one gallon per minute. Our ground water temperature has a tendency to average around 62 degrees Fahrenheit according to our local water authorities. This means that we’ll definitely be able to have nice warm water for hand washing, which is what we want. However, with that rise and our average water temperatures, it’s possible this heater may make the temperature too hot for comfortable hand washing. We could have added a thermostatic mixing valve to control the top end temperature, but the Eemax EX95T is a thermostatic model, which means it can handle this task too. So we now have the power to have the perfect hand washing temperature even if our incoming water temperature varies a bit (which is common) without the worries of ever having water that’s too hot and without the hassle of additional pieces of equipment.

If we didn’t know what our local water authorities had to say about the temperature, we could simply run the cold water line for a few minutes and test with a thermometer. Compare that with the average body temperature of the human body (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit) and you can get a pretty good idea of whether the water will feel cold, lukewarm, or rather hot once you raise the water temperature with a point of use electric water heater.

A few different styles of Eeemax electric tankless water heaters

As you can see, point of use electric tankless water heaters can be exactly what you need if you know what you’re looking at. If you don’t, we’re here to answer questions and provide direction.

Your turn: have you ever had a water heater selection turn out unexpectedly?

Water On Your Bathroom Floor?

If you’re concerned about some water that you found on your bathroom floor (near your toilet), please rest assured that there are a number of common possible causes for the problem. After you eliminate the most obvious cause (bad aim), consider the following before presuming the problem is with the seal between your toilet and the sewer line. Usually, the issue is less costly than the potentially expensive possibility of wastewater coming up from beneath your toilet.

The Two Best Places To Start

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Condensation: Probably the most common cause for excess water on the floor of a bathroom is water condensing on the outside of the toilet’s tank and dripping onto the floor. This is commonly referred to as the tank “sweating.” Tank condensation/sweat is caused by the difference in temperature of the water inside the tank, which is usually very cold, and the temperature of the air outside the tank in the bathroom, which is often warm and steamy. Tank condensation sometimes occurs more often in the summer months rather than the cold winter months, but can occur any time of year if the conditions are right. There are easy solutions to this type of problem, such as toilet tank liners (which insulate the cold water inside the tank from the humid outside) or anti-sweat toilet tank valves (which mix cold and warm water coming into the tank to reduce the temperature variance inside and outside the toilet tank). Unfortunately, it’s not convenient to confirm the water on your floor is completely an issue of tank condensation/sweat. Basically, you will need to wipe the outside of your tank thoroughly with a towel and then over time, try to visually detect whether or not water is gathering on the outside of the tank again.

Water leaking from inside the toilet tank: Once you’ve confirmed that the problem you’re experiencing is not due to tank condensation, then the next best place to begin would be to eliminate the possibility of you having water leaking from the tank itself. This is a fairly easy thing to check. Start by removing your toilet toilet tank lid (be very careful, because tank lids are extremely fragile, can be heavy and are usually slippery when wet) and add some organic-based coloring (such as food coloring) to your toilet tank water. We even offer color test tablets on our site for this specific purpose! They can be obtained free with any order placed through our web site. Do NOT flush the tank, but instead wait a little while for the tank water to change color and settle. If after a half-hour or so (without flushing the tank) you find the water on your floor to be the same color as the colored water inside your tank, or if you see any colored drips coming from anywhere on your tank, then you’ll know you have water escaping from the toilet’s tank since that IS the only place you have the colored water. The next thing to do would be to identify where the water is coming from. Any cracks in the porcelain tank should be discolored and highlighted by the tinted water. The tinted water will usually help in finding any leaks around the bolts and rubber seals between your tank and bowl or from the foam gasket where the flush valve allows water to enter the bowl.

Water can leak from inside the bowl for a few different reasons. Read more…

Is It A Good Drip Or A Bad Drip?

If you think all drips are bad, we encourage you to think again.

We typically flood our yards and gardens with sprinklers and hoses, and a day or two later, flood them again. Not only is this time-consuming if you don’t have an automatic sprinkler system, but it’s wasteful. Much of the water sprayed by sprinklers evaporates before absorbing into the soil and nourishes the plants.  With rectangular yards and circular or semi-circular sprinkler patterns, the sprays often overlap and water the fence or the sidewalk. The result? Water washing down sidewalks, bark ground cover floating away, and children jumping in puddles, much to their mothers’ dismay. Your water bill climbs, and you still don’t feel like your plants are getting the care they need.

Example of drip system in useThe solution? A drip irrigation system. Ideal for gardens, borders, and container planting, drip irrigation allows you to precisely place the exact level of water your plants need delivered right to where they need it. Drip irrigation helps prevent soil erosion and reduces accidentally watering the weeds. Depending on the needs of your plants, you can install simple soaker hoses, or customize each outlet for the exact needs of the plant. You can create a drip system to provide a constant drip, or you can turn it on for only part of the day. Add a timer to automate it! Completely custom, very efficient, and easy to install and modify. We offer drip system components, so you can create your own from the ground up.

So, say goodbye to wasting water, let the kids know they’ll have to wait for the rain to puddle-jump, keep your ground cover where it belongs, and watch your plants flourish. Ready for more? Read on…