Conservation is an important concept for many homeowners, both for practical reasons (lower bills, etc.) and to support sustainability and eco-friendly themes. And within this realm, one of the most important conservation areas for many homeowners is their water, and specifically how they utilize several different plumbing fixtures and avoid any wasted water risks.
At Action Plumbing, Heating, Air & Electric, we’re here to help with numerous plumbing repair and maintenance services, from basic themes like limiting water usage from your fixtures up through major jobs like replacing a water heater or installing a water softener. What are some of the top areas of plumbing fixture use (or misuse, in some cases) that tend to lead to water being wasted, causing both an increase in your bill and an impact you’d prefer not to make on the environment? Here are several of the most common culprits, plus what you can do to avoid them.
Improper Toilet Use
One of the top sources of wasted water from your plumbing system is the improper use of toilets in the home. Toilets use about a third of the average home’s plumbing water, the single largest source of any fixture, and you have to be careful about how you use them.
The top theme here is simple: Your toilet is only meant to flush down human waste and toilet paper, and nothing else. If you’re flushing items like wipes, paper towels or anything besides those two materials down the toilet drain, you’re creating two negatives at once: First, you’re wasting water that does not need to be flushed. Second, you’re increasing the risk that your pipes will become clogged by non-approved materials that build up over time, often resulting in the need for expensive drain or sewer line cleaning or repairs. For both these reasons, limit your toilet usage and flushing to only bodily waste and toilet paper – throw everything else into a traditional garbage.
Another of the top causes of wasted water in your plumbing system is one or more leaks taking place. In some cases, these leaks might be visible in areas like hose bibs, toilets, faucets (including under sinks) and even water heaters. If this is the case, call our pros for assistance as soon as you notice any such leak.
However, in other cases, leaks will not be visible. They may be occurring in pipes that are behind walls or in ceilings, for instance. You might see related signs, such as water marks on your walls or even bubbling, but even these don’t always show up. One other potential indicator of leaks: If your water bill is increasing significantly without any other explanation, this could be the cause.
Shower and Bath Issues
One other common waster of water is a bit simpler: Those in your household who take long baths or showers. While this sort of thing is fine every so often, doing so every day or even several times per week will cause lots of additional water to be used – do you really need to use this much? It’s a fair question to ask yourself.
However, there’s also a simple plumbing approach you can use to limit these risks and allow people in your house to shower for longer: Install a low-flow showerhead. These use far less water than a conventional showerhead, but provide similar or even identical levels of pressure and quality. Their costs aren’t even very high up-front, meaning they return value on your investment quickly.
Another simple usage area you should be keeping an eye on if you want to conserve water is the various water-related loads you use in certain fixtures. We’re mostly talking about laundry loads and dishwasher loads here, though there may be a few other fixtures in your home that perform tasks involving water usage as well (such as a humidifier).
Whenever you’re doing laundry or running the dishwasher, do your best to run as close to a full load as possible. Running partial loads on a full cycle will waste lots of water that isn’t really needed. An exception here is if you have a laundry machine or dishwasher that allows for half or partial cycles and also diminishes the water used during these, in which case you can plan for these sorts of cycles. Older machines, though, tend to come without these features, so if you have one of these in your home, you have to be careful.
One area that’s been particularly noticeable in the news recently, especially in places like Utah due to major drought taking place, is lawn watering. Not only should you be limiting the water you use to what’s legitimately needed to keep your lawn alive this summer, you should also be smart about when you water: Running sprinklers in the evening or at night, when the sun isn’t out to create fast evaporation, is the way to go. If you’re currently running your system in the middle of the afternoon, you’re wasting water plus killing your grass, both in one fell swoop.
Finally, two simple recommendations in terms of dishes:
- Using the dishwasher is generally preferable to hand-washing, if you have the choice. The latter uses more water.
- If you must hand-wash certain items, don’t leave the water running the entire time. Rinse them off, then turn water off before applying soap and scrubbing. Once you’re finished, turn water back on to rinse them off.
For more on how to conserve water within your plumbing system, or to learn about any of our plumbing, HVAC or other services, speak to the staff at Action Plumbing, Heating, Air & Electric today.