How to Go Green With Plumbing
Making your plumbing system more efficient isn’t just about saving green, it’s also about making our world ever greener. Going green means saving money and protecting the environment.
So, how do you go green with your plumbing?
From identifying and fixing water leaks to eco-friendly appliances, learn how green plumbing can save you money and reduce your environmental impact. To help you navigate the difficult plumbing, electrical, heating, and cooling choices you make every day, contact the experienced professionals at Brubaker Inc.
Go green by going gray!
You can save thousands of gallons of water and lots of money every year by using the graywater from your sinks, tubs, and washing machines for outdoor use.
Whitewater is the clean water that comes into your plumbing system and blackwater is the sewage that goes out. Graywater refers to water that is neither clean nor dirty. Most professionals consider graywater as any water soiled by anything other than human waste—dishwashers, laundry machines, showers, and sinks. Kitchen sinks, however, contain a lot of food debris, oils, and fats, so it’s best not to use these without treatment.
By definition, graywater does not include any wastewater that contains human waste. As a result, graywater is nontoxic and safe to use.
Graywater accounts for the majority of your wastewater—between 50% and 80%—so it might be a good idea to reuse some of it for your outdoor watering needs. Consider rerouting the wastewater from your sinks and appliances to the plants and shrubs in your backyard.
There are three main ways to use graywater for irrigation:
- Manual bucketing and temporary diversion – low-tech diversion of graywater, usually involving a hose.
- Diversion – a simple plumbing system that reroutes the water for you, using subsurface irrigation to evenly distribute the water.
- Treatment – a complex diversion system that includes a water treatment/filtration system.
While it’s possible to install a graywater irrigation system yourself, make sure you speak with a professional plumber first to learn more about options and best practices.
Also, check your local utility company for rebates on graywater systems to save even more.
Graywater must be managed appropriately and a permit is needed for any separate plumbing system that handles graywater and blackwater.
Monitor your water bill
Check your water bill every month for any unusual spikes or steady increases. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “If a family of four exceeds 12,000 gallons per month, there are serious leaks.”
If you can’t detect the leak yourself, contact a professional plumber. The leak may be underground or behind a wall.
Check your water heater
Water heaters and boilers should be set at around 120 degrees Fahrenheit and then adjusted from there. If you don’t know the temperature setting of your water heater (or boiler), you may be faced with higher bills and potential danger from scalding water.
Additionally, homeowners should flush the sediment from their water heater every 6 months, which improves water heater efficiency and extends its lifespan.
If your water heater is more than 15 years old or requires frequent repairs, consider a tankless water heater that saves space, energy, and money. It also never runs out of water and lasts about twice as long as a traditional water heater.
Check your water meter for indications of a leak
Periodically check your water meter for leaks in your home. Usually, your water meter is located in a cement box near your front curb, in a box on an outside wall, or inside your home where your water supply enters the home.
If you don’t know where your water meter is located, contact your local plumber.
Open the cement box up (you may need a special key) and look for the leak detection dial. Make sure no water is being used in your home, including washing machines and dishwashers. If the dial is moving, you have a water leak. Considering the fact that American household leaks account for over 1 trillion gallons of wasted water every year, it’s important for both our wallets and the environment to find and fix our household leaks.
If you don’t have a leak dial on your water meter, there’s another way to test for leaks. Write down the number (either gallons or cubic feet) on the water meter and come back after about an hour to see if the number has changed. Remember to refrain from using any water or water-dependent appliances during this 1-2 hour period.
Learn how to read your water meter.
Look for plumbing leaks
Visible water damage and signs of water leaks are a sure sign to call a plumber. If you notice stained or damp areas in your home, you could have a leaking pipe somewhere. If that leaking pipe bursts, you could end up with severe water damage.
Now is a great time to inspect toilets, dishwashers and washing machines for leaks that can damage your home. Replacing old or worn out connector hoses with stainless steel varieties, tightening connections, and making sure that these items are safe and up-to-date is extremely important.
In addition to running up your water bill and driving you crazy with incessant dripping, a leaky faucet could be a sign of a number of other serious plumbing problems. It could also lead to extensive water damage, depending on the location of the leak.
Though they’re the most common, leaks aren’t the only potential faucet problem. If your faucet handles aren’t working the way they should, your faucet isn’t securely attached to your sink, or water from your faucet is discolored or has a strange odor, contact a professional plumber.
How to fix a leaking or running toilet
Leaking or running toilets are quick and easy to fix, usually. If you find out that there is a leak in your toilet, you may be losing as much as 80,000 gallons of water due to an undetected toilet tank leak.
Learn how to test your toilets for water leaks:
A good way to test for silent toilet leaks is to place a couple of drops of food coloring into your toilet tank and wait 10 minutes or so to see if the color has made it to the bowl. If there is food dye in the toilet bowl, you have a leak and should have it fixed as soon as possible. It’s probably a worn out or loose-fitting toilet flapper.
After you have confirmed a leak in your toilet tank, the next step is to figure out how to fix it. Luckily, most minor toilet leaks can be fixed yourself. On the other hand, if there’s a leak at the base of your toilet, contact a plumber for professional repairs.
Most likely, there’s a slow leak from the tank to the bowl. In this case, the toilet flapper (aka flange) at the bottom of the tank is usually to blame. Check to see if the toilet chain is tangled or kinked and keeping the flapper from closing all the way. If the chain is causing the problem, you can usually just readjust it with your hands or pliers.
If the lift chain continues to get caught in between the flapper and the drain hole, try cutting a plastic straw in half and feeding the chain through it. This will stiffen up the chain enough to prevent it from getting sucked into the flapper.
The other common culprit for a leaking toilet is an old, worn-out, or ill-fitting flapper. Simply replace the toilet flapper with a new one. It’s a cheap and easy replacement that needs to happen every once a while.
If you’ve adjusted the chain and replaced the flapper, but the toilet is still running, it may be due to water leaking out of the overflow pipe. If the water level is too high and water is flowing into the overflow pipe, you may need to adjust or replace the ball float. You can adjust the fill height by raising or lowering the float, whether it’s a float cup or a float ball.
Toilet leaks can get worse quickly, so if you spot a leak that has developed with your toilet, call Brubaker Inc. immediately.
Use efficient appliances
There are many upgrades to choose from that have water-saving features and come in a variety of designs.
Low-flow faucets and water-saving appliances are cost-effective upgrades that can save you a lot of water and money in the long run.
Dual-flush toilets are another huge water saver in your home. Standard toilets waste gallons of water with every flush. A dual-flush toilet has two buttons—one for low flush, one for high flush. The low-flush option uses about 50% less water than a regular flush, saving you thousands of gallons of water every year. Some low-flush models use less than a gallon per low flush. Be sure to hire a plumber you trust to install these new components.
Another upgrade that can save you energy and money is a water heater upgrade. If you have a tank water heater, consider a tankless model for on-demand hot water. Tankless models don’t require the energy it takes to heat an entire tank of water. You can also insulate your water heater tank and turn down the thermostat to save energy if you aren’t ready for an upgrade.
Read about other ways to go green throughout your life and community by acting on these 100 Ways to Go Green.
Hire a professional plumber
Your home’s plumbing system is a complicated labyrinth of pipes that connects to various fixtures and drains. When you can’t find or fix your plumbing problem, contact a professional plumber right away.
A skilled and reputable plumber is an indispensable resource. Quality parts and equipment are only as good as their installation. Always hire a licensed and insured plumbing technician. Otherwise, the results could be catastrophic and you may be replacing costly components long before they are due.
Your Brubaker Inc. plumbing professional can inspect your home’s plumbing system for any trouble spots. In addition to annual professional plumbing inspections, there are many other things you can do to maintain your home’s plumbing system.
If you run into any plumbing problems, you can rely on the experience and professionalism of Brubaker Inc. to deliver fast, friendly service and expert solutions to the Lancaster, PA area.