Environmentally-friendly options have grown to dominate just about every industry. Everywhere you look, they are available. The plumbing industry is no different. When it comes to the plumbing industry, the most common environmentally-friendly option is a low-flow option. There are low-flow toilets, sinks, and showers. In the simplest sense, they are fixtures that use less water than their traditional counterparts. They also include some innovations to make that a little less noticeable. Here’s how they work.
Low-flow showerheads are some of the most popular changes. A traditional shower head is limited to 2.5 gallons per minute. A low-flow showerhead is often half that flow rate. To make it not seem like you’re getting half as much water, low-flow heads often have more holes for spraying water. They also inject more air into the stream. So you end up with the same amount of coverage but with half as much water.
There are also low-flow toilets. A typical toilet uses 1.6 gallons per flush. A low-flow toilet can use about 1.2 or 1.3 gallons per flush. That might not seem like a very significant difference, but it can add up to several gallons per day. Oftentimes, the design of a low-flow toilet has to be a little more precise than a traditional toilet. Older toilets used three, five, or even seven gallons per flush. They didn’t need much innovative design to ensure that they flushed completely. A low-flow toilet has to be carefully designed. Early models didn’t work as expected and gave the entire category a bad name. New low-flow toilets work as well as traditional toilets and save you money.
A low-flow sink often involves a sink faucet that sprays a sphere of water. A traditional faucet releases a column of water; however, most of this water is wasted down the drain. A low-flow sink sprays a jet of water that is a higher pressure but contains less water. Since it’s higher pressure, it can clean just as well as a greater volume of water. Many homeowners who have low-flow sinks have reported washing their dishes just as well as they ever did but with less water. A typical kitchen faucet uses about 1.8 gallons per minute. A low-flow kitchen faucet uses about .5 gallons per minute.
If you want these benefits without making a drastic change, you can often have a plumber install a low-flow aerator. This injects air into your fixture without requiring you get an entirely new fixture. Ask a professional about one.
Boiling water taps have become the not new thing for people to get for their homes. They have been popular for years in restaurants and are just catching on for domestic use. They probably won’t replace a simple teapot any time soon, but they’re still growing in market share.
What Is It?
A boiling water tap is exactly what it sounds like. It is a faucet that dispenses boiling water when you turn the nozzle. Typically, they sit right next to your standard tap. Instead of room temperature water or water from the water heater, you get boiling water. They’re incredibly convenient if you want to make tea or need to scour a pan. They also save some water since most people fill up their tea pot with more water than they actually need.
Most critically, they save a lot of time. Many of them bring you boiling water instantly. Some of them might take a few seconds to heat up. That just depends on how your particular tap works.
How They Work
A boiling water tap is installed on your counter over your sink like a standard faucet. It’s then connected to a tank underneath the sink. The tank is typically very well-insulated. The tank is basically an electric or a gas kettle that holds water and heats it. Some models will heat water to boiling and then hold it in the insulated tank until you need it. These often will turn the heating element back on when you turn the tap. The water won’t stay boiling hot in the tank perpetually, but it will be closer to boiling when the heating element comes back on. That means it will be easier to heat and save you some energy.
Other boiling water taps work more like a tankless water heater. They are connected to a water line and have a heating element built into them. When you turn the tap and water flows, the heating element comes on. The heating element is intense enough that the water is almost instantly brought to boiling temperature. They’re nearly instantaneous.
The benefits of a boiling water tap are mostly that you can save a lot of time. You don’t have to wait for a pot of water to boil; that can drastically reduce cooking times. You can also see some reduction in your energy usage if you use a lot of boiled water.
A professional plumber will need to install a boiling water tap if you would like one.
Hydrojetting has been around for a while but it has been growing in popularity for use by plumbers in recent years. It’s been growing as the tools and equipment required for effective hydro jetting have become more affordable for independent contractors and easier to load on the truck. When you call a professional plumber about a clog in your pipes, they might recommend hydro jetting. So, what is it?
What Is Hydro Jetting?
Hydro Jetting is the process of spraying highly pressurized water into your pipes to scour them. The pressure will hopefully wash away buildup on the pipes and break up clogs. To do it effectively, a plumber will likely access a cleanout somewhere on your property. That is an opening in the plumbing system that allows a plumber to easily access the pipes. They’ll then connect the hose to the cleanout. They’ll pump water through the pipes at as much as 5,000 psi.
It’s very important that the plumber choose the right pressure for the situation and the type of pipes. For example, clay pipes are more susceptible to cracking or breaking under high pressure; you wouldn’t use as much pressure for those old underground pipes. Also, a tree root will likely be unaffected by hydro jetting. So, if the plumber were to jet pipes blocked by a thick tree root, it could just create uncontrollable pressure and burst a pipe.
That’s why plumbers will often use a drain camera before they jet the pipes. They’ll work the camera through the pipes to find the source of the clog. Then they’ll blow it out with the hydrojets.
Who Needs It?
Hydro Jetting is best used when there is a clog far along in your pipes. It’s also most effective when the clog needs to be broken up. For example, a clog of fat and paper towels somewhere in your sewer main could be broken up with a concentrated blast of high pressure water. If you have a clog of hair in one of your sink drains, you wouldn’t go through the trouble of jetting it. In that case, you’d use a chemical to dissolve the hair or just fish it out with a drain snake.
Hydro Jetting can often eliminate the need to trench a yard. If a clog is far along in the plumbing, it could be under the backyard and not easily accessible. If you can’t access it, it will either have to be blown out or the pipe would have to be uprooted.
Of the many obvious dangers to your pipes, most of them come from inside the pipes. If you flush hard objects, fat, paper towels, or anything else that can clog a pipe, you could have a problem. A major danger comes from outside of the pipes, though; that danger is tree roots.
Tree Root Dangers
Tree roots are very slow-moving but they are very persistent. Pipes and septic tanks that are underground are in danger of a tree’s roots. The roots will grow over the course of years. They’ll slowly wrap around the pipes or septic tank. As the tree grows, the roots will throw thicker and thicker, creating a tighter and tighter squeeze on the pipes. Eventually, they’ll grow thick enough that they damage the pipes. In some cases, they’ll compress the metal of the pipe until water no longer flows freely. In other cases, they’ll actually just break the pipes. Oftentimes, you won’t even notice that you have a problem until sewage starts flooding your backyard.
Recognizing The Dangers
A general rule of thumb is that roots will grow as wide as the branches of the tree. So, if the branches of a tree hang over a septic tank or pipes, the roots might be burrowing into them underground.
So, what can you do about it? First, you should call a plumber to inspect your pipes. It could be that the pipes are deep enough that they’ll be unaffected by tree roots. It’s also possible that the tree is a type that doesn’t have a wide root spread.
Depending on the nature of the problem, the professionals will respond in different ways. If the roots are worming their way into the pipes themselves, a problem common to clay pipes, then they’ll likely bore out the pipes to clear the roots. If the pipes are crushed or cracked by the roots, they’ll likely cut the roots and replace the pipes. They might also coat the pipes in something that kills roots. It won’t kill the entire tree, but the roots will die when they come into contact with the pipes.
The pipes can also be coated in cement to prevent the roots from breaking through. This has been popular for years with commercial lines and has just begun to be used for residential lines.
These are a few of the options you have to remedy pipes endangered by tree roots. The first step is calling a professional.
Home water purification systems have been growing in popularity for homes as well as businesses. There are dozens of different kind s systems. There are systems that are just filters attached to your faucets to run your water through some activated charcoal. These filter out whatever solids might remained in your treated water. There are systems that use electrolysis, activated charcoal, and UV light to filter solids, remove chemicals, and kill microbes. A plumber can walk you through the different types of systems. However, the basic question remains concerning who needs which systems.
Municipal Water Supply
If you are on a trustworthy municipal water supply, you likely don’t need a complex water purification system. The water coming into your home should be free of toxins, microbes, and dangerous solids. There are some cases in which the pipes leading into your home might be old enough to have lead and might be leaching lead into your water. In that case, you’ll need fixtures that filter out lead. In some cases, the water coming into your home might be safe but just taste funny. If you want something a little more permanent than the filters that attach to faucets, you could have a system installed by a plumber.
In those cases, the plumber will install a system that is basically a charcoal filter but on a larger scale. All of the water coming into your house will run through the system. It will remove solids that might make water taste or smell funny.
If you live in a rural area, you might get your water from a local well. In that case, you’ll need to have a full water filtration system. That system will basically have three functions. When water is piped from your well, it will need to have solids removed. It will need to have chemicals removed. Lastly, it will need to have microbes killed. To remove solids, the water will likely be run through a multi-step filter. The filter might begin with clean sand, then work down to activated charcoal. That will remove most solids. Then, it might undergo electrolysis which passes the water through charged particles. The charged particles will be designed to react to chemicals suspended in the water but not to water itself.
Finally, the water will be treated with UV light. The UV light will kill any virus or bacteria in the water. That will leave you with pure, filtered water.
A plumber will be able to install that type of system for you.
Plumbing emergencies are some of the most unfortunate events that can occur for a homeowners. A plumbing emergency can be disgusting, disruptive, and expensive. It can even force you out of your home for a few days while a professional addresses the root problem. Fortunately, plumbing emergencies are often signalled before they become full-blown emergencies. There are signs that you are nearing an emergency.
1 — Odd Bubbling
Your plumbing exits your house via several different pipes. The pipes then converge into a main sewer drain. When there are blockages, leaks, or air bubbles in those converging pipes, it can cause some odd consequences. For example, you might run your bathroom sink and see water bubbling in your toilet bowl. That would be a case of odd bubbling that indicates something has gone wrong. It likely indicates that something has gone amiss in your main sewer drain. You should call a professional immediately. The alternative could be sewage running into your backyard.
2 – Weak Water Pressure
If you have weak water pressure in one fixture in your house, it could indicate a leaky pipe or a blocked pipe. It could also mean the fixture itself needs some work. If that’s the case, you need to have it addressed but it’s not an emergency. However, if you have several fixtures with weak water pressure, it could indicate a problem from the water main or something else systemic. In that case, you’ll need to call a plumber before the problem escalates into something drastic.
3 — Multiple Clogged Drains
As stated earlier, your pipes drain in individual pipes and then converge onto the same sewer main. If you have several drains clogged, it means that something has gone wrong at or near the sewer main. That could mean that you will have sewage backing up into your house or your yard soon.
4 — Noisy Pipes
Some old houses have pipes that clang and clank when you run the water. That could indicate that some clamps have rusted or corroded and need to be reaffixed. It could also indicate that your pipes are hitting one another and could eventually work loose. If a pipe fractures, it could lead to flooding that grows tragic very quickly.
5 — Wet Spots
From time to time, you should look under your sinks and around your fixtures where you might not normally look. You should look for signs of wetness. Those could be indications of persistent leaks that have been building for some time.
In most cases, your home will have gutters that run along the roof to catch rainwater that hits the roof. It will usher that water away from the house via a drain pipe. This is important to prevent water from pooling up around the foundation of your house. That could cause your foundation to begin to erode; it could also lead to flooding of your first floor. Typically, you’ll go to a roofing expert for your guttering needs, but some plumbers will do that work as well. Plumbers might do the work, especially if it relates to your plumbing needs. Here is how your gutters and your plumbing could relate.
Ponds and Rainwater Collection
Many homeowners have been emphasizing using as much rainwater as possible in their day to day lives. Rainwater costs you nothing and also reduces the amount of resources used to treat water. Water that you use for filling your pond or watering your garden doesn’t need to be treated and transported by municipal sources. So, many people have rainwater collected in cisterns and actually piped into their house for different purposes. It can’t be used for drinking but it can be used for flushing toilets and washing clothes.
If you have a plumber doing work on your pipes, they might need to work on your rainwater collection as well. A common way to collect rainwater is for the gutters to run into a rainwater collection tank or into a pond. The gutters lead to a downspout. The downspout can run into a channel drain that culminates in the pond.
Basement Sump Pumps
A sump pump is a pump in your basement that sits inside of a small cistern. Water that flows into the basement for any reason will run into that cistern and then be pumped out of your house. There are several reasons this can experience problems. Many plumbers, especially those in rural areas, are trained to repair sump pumps. During the repair process, they might clean or repair your gutters as well since functioning gutters should reduce the amount of water flowing into the basement. That will reduce the workload of your sump pump.
Some rural homes are serviced by a well instead of a municipal water supply. Effectively diverting rainwater is essential to the functioning of a well. Typically, rainwater is redirected away from a well so that it does not contaminate the groundwater coming into your home. In some areas, the rainwater is actually directed into the well to create a sort of hybrid collection system.
Every industry has been affected by the move towards more green and more sustainable practices; plumbing is no different. Many homeowners are looking for ways to make their plumbing more efficient and eco-friendly. The greening of plumbing has the added benefit of saving you money. You’re charged for every gallon of municipal water that flows through your pipes. So, reducing the amount of municipal water through your pipes will reduce your plumbing bill each money. High-efficiency toilets and showers is one way to reduce water consumption. Using rainwater is a way to reduce the municipal water you use.
Using Rainwater With Your Plumbing
You’ll need to talk to a professional about using rainwater. Rainwater is not potable in its natural state, so it can’t be used in all of your plumbing. You’ll need essentially a separate plumbing system to keep the rainwater sequestered from your drinking water. However, it’s perfectly fine for every application that you won’t drink purposely or accidentally; basically, it can be used for anything that won’t touch your face or your food.
The first step to using rainwater with your indoor plumbing is to collect the rainwater. A dedicated rain barrel is a good choice since they’re designed to catch as much water as possible while also keeping out bugs and other pests. The rainwater cistern can be connected directly to your pipes as well. The pipes will then run to your toilets, your washing machine, and your garden hoses. You’ll likely need to have a pump installed to drive the water to those applications.
You’ll also need a filter. Water used for washing your clothes does not need to be drinking water quality but it does need to be clean. A professional plumber can install all of these things for you to get you up and running.
How Much Money?
Many homeowners want to know how much money they’ll save. That depends obviously on your personal use but a washing machine alone uses about 50 liters of water every time you use it. That’s about 13 gallons. Depending on how large your washing loads are, you could save a few dollars every time you run your washing machine.
You can also water your plants or fill a fish pond with your collected rainwater. A pond that is about ten feet by ten feet can hold as much as 3,000 gallons of water. Using rainwater for that can save you hundreds of dollars each year.
Imagine trying to fix a problem you haven’t seen with your own eyes? You know it’s there, but you just don’t know how bad it is or what it may take to fix it. That’s the problem many plumbers have when trying to diagnose serious clogs. A difficult situation becomes even more difficult because they don’t have the proper equipment to KNOW what the problem is before trying to fix it! That’s where camera inspections make a big difference!
Interestingly enough, sewage has a fairly distinct smell. Even though it is made of dozens of different components and each household produces different components to make that sewage, it always smells somewhat similar. That means that you can instantly tell sewage when you smell it. A couple of places you might not expect to smell it is in your bathroom or kitchen sink. However, many homeowners know that particular smell. Plumbers say there are several different reasons why this might be the case.