Tag Archives: water

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.

Making Home Plumbing Repairs Easier

Have you ever replaced a faucet cartridge, replaced a water filter, or changed out a flapper? Sure you have! And if you’re a homeowner, probably more than once.

What’s the most frustrating part? Shutting off the water to the whole house (at least in my opinion). Mostly because it goes something like this:

Angle stop in chrome finishLook for the shutoff valve for the faucet (or toilet, or filter, or whatever it is this time). Realize there isn’t one. Swear under your breath while hunting for the shutoff to the house. Realize it’s been a while since it was tested and it needs a bit of work to actually close. Swear under your breath some more. Swear full voice if you happen to scrape your knuckles. Tromp back to the bathroom with a glare that could cause street gangs to run away, but doesn’t keep your spouse from complaining about mud on your shoes or your knuckles from stinging. Debate taking the time to treat the scrape, decide it’s done bleeding anyway and you’ll get to it in a minute. Open a faucet to drain the lines and wait. Maybe treat your knuckles while you wait after all. Now fix what needs fixing and go back outside to turn the water back on. Now go back inside and turn the faucet back on to get water back in the lines. Notice a leak at a connection. Swear under your breath and turn the faucet back off. Swear extra if it’s not the original problem. Fix it right this time. Turn the water back on. Sigh in relief – you’re done! And you got your aerobic exercise in for the day.

Now if this sounds like fun to you, great, you’re doing just fine and probably weren’t actually swearing. Hopefully you never have to wait two weeks for a special order cartridge while the shower in your only bathroom is leaking like a sieve. Turning off the house water after each shower or paying a huge water bill will probably cause you to swear even if you didn’t before.

Example of a filter housing with a shutoff valveBut if you’d like to make changing a minor part less of a production, install shutoff valves at every fixture. Most reputable brands offer shower valves with screwdriver stops which let you turn off the water just to the valve while you’re replacing a cartridge, so there’s no other valves needed there. Look for filter housings that come with integral shutoff valves to make changing the cartridges quicker and easier. You can find decorative shutoffs to match almost all finishes in nearly any size for your bathroom and kitchen faucets, as well as your toilet supply line. A classic brass ball valve will also do the trick. There’s even push-fit valves if you don’t want to mess with wrenches or a torch.

If this sounds like a bit of a production in and of itself, you can work on it in steps. The next time you need to fix some plumbing-related thing, just add a shutoff valve or five to your parts list and install them while you’ve got the water off anyway. Eventually it’ll all be taken care of and the only plumbing-related swearing you’ll have to do is when a toddler shoves a rubber ducky down the toilet.

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?

For Love of Water

Maybe the very availability of clean drinking water has made us forget how rare it is. After all, only a tiny portion of the world’s water is fresh (non-salty) water – about 2-3 percent of the water on Earth according to some current estimates. Of that, only a tiny part of that is where we can get to it – about 1 percent. So one percent of two or three percent of the water on Earth is accessible. Fascinating!

And yet we let our faucets drip, run our sprinklers when the ground is already saturated, and use water-guzzling toilets. Our reasoning? Well, a lot of it is simple apathy – why should we change when it’s working well enough? Some may feel that paying a plumber to fix a “little” problem isn’t worth the money or the hassle, but they don’t know how to address the issue themselves.

Need some motivation? A simple little drip, let’s say one drip per minute from a bathroom faucet, can easily drip a liter of water down the drain each day. Doesn’t really sound like much, does it? But a drip caused by worn compression washers inevitably gets worse, and in a month or two, your one-drip-per-minute is probably a several-drips-per-minute, which is much more noticeable and lets multiple gallons go down the drain per day. If you wouldn’t pour drinkable water down the drain, why are you letting it leak away?

Need more motivation to fix the leak? A small problem inevitably becomes a large problem if you don’t fix it. A little leak can turn into a dribble, which is not only a terrible waste, but can flood a sink or tub, or even worse, cause problems with your septic system. At that point you’re dealing with wet floors, a soggy yard, and more than a simple fix. Not to mention inflating the water bill! So, prevent flooding by fixing the leak while it’s still small and avoid not only the problems, but save some of that tiny percent of water we humans have access to.

Ready to fix the drip? Read more…

Residential Water Filtration Guide

If you’ve looked into filtering or otherwise treating your water, you’ve probably noticed that there are many options and a lot of information out there. We understand it’s not always easy to understand, so let’s see if we can simplify some of it.

People typically ask us about three methods of residential water treatment: reverse osmosis, filtration, and Ultraviolet (UV) Light. Each method has its pros and cons, and each one can be ideal for different situations. Sometimes a combination of methods is actually the best solution.

reverse osmosis systems from PlumbingSupply.com

Reverse Osmosis (RO): Reverse Osmosis is a process in which water is forced by pressure through a semi-permeable membrane. This is great for removing several contaminants from the water, desalinating, as well as providing mineral and pathogen free water. RO membranes are affected by chlorine, and nearly always need a carbon pre-filter to help protect the membrane.  Reverse Osmosis units are also known for using a lot of water in the production; for example a very basic system may use 3-6 gallons (depending on your water conditions) of water in order to produce one gallon of clean RO water. Since water coming out of an RO system is virtually mineral-free, it is considered “aggressive” and will leech minerals out of surrounding materials, such as pipes, so be sure you use an RO system with faucets and plumbing systems that are designed to handle this. For these reasons, RO systems are usually used just for drinking water rather than for a whole house system. For more information on RO systems, click here.

water filtration from PlumbingSupply.com
Filtration: Probably the easiest and least expensive choice, simple filtration can solve many common water issues. Depending on your needs, filters can be used in conjunction with RO and/or UV systems or stand alone. Filters are given a micron rating that represents the size of the openings between pieces of filter media and the size of particles that filter will remove. Quite simply, the smaller the micron rating, the smaller the openings that allow water to pass through. Larger micron ratings are great for filtering sand and other large particles, while very small micron ratings can also filter cysts and fine silt. Naturally, the smaller the micron rating, the more it will catch. Filtration systems that are designed to catch several sizes of particles will often have a series of filters of different micron ratings to keep any one filter from having to be changed too often, but still filter the water effectively.

With the choice of filter type, you also have the choice of installation method. For drinking water only, a countertop or under counter unit is typically considered to be the most convenient to install, operate and maintain. Depending on your particular water conditions and if you are able to make modifications to your home, you may consider a whole house filter to ensure that all the water used in your home is safe from contaminants. For more information about drinking water filtration, click here.

ultraviolet water filtration from PlumbingSupply.com
Ultraviolet (UV): UV light systems work by exposing contaminated water to radiation from UV light which effectively inactivates bacteria, viruses and other organic contaminants. The UV light actually penetrates the cell walls of the organism and disrupts the cell’s genetic material, making the cell unable to reproduce, which renders it harmless, but does not remove the contaminant. The effects of the UV light on contaminated water are not residual; there are no lingering disinfectants in the water to continue disinfection after exposure to the UV light. This is both a positive and negative aspect of this form of disinfectant. A UV system is often used in conjunction with other treatment methods and should always be used at the closest point possible to the end user, such as under the counter for a drinking water faucet. For more information about UV systems, click here.

In order to form a more comprehensive list of options, pros or cons specific to your needs, you will need to check with a local water quality professional for the best advice in treating your water. Ultimately, the best method for your home depends on your water quality, and what you’re trying to get out of the water you have. If you only want to make your city water taste better, your ideal filtration method will be different from someone who needs their sandy well water to stop fouling the water heater.

First step: What’s your water problem?

Second step: What’s your water quality like?

Third step: Fix it!