We can all do our part to maximize energy efficiency in our homes and businesses. It’s a win-win situation for your wallet and the world. In addition to other energy hogs in your home, such as kitchens, laundry rooms, and HVAC systems, the bathroom uses a surprising amount of water and energy.
Water use and energy use are intrinsically linked. It takes energy to treat, pump, and heat the water that flows through your home and business. By saving water, you aren’t just conserving water, but energy as well. Water-saving techniques also help the environment by preventing air pollution and diverting less water from our rivers, estuaries, and bays.
As our population increases, so does demand. Luckily, there are many ways to use water more efficiently without sacrificing comfort or effectiveness.
These green tips are for the modern, busy homeowner. Some suggestions are one-time things, while others require ongoing effort. Start maximizing energy efficiency in the bathroom today!
Maximize Energy Efficiency in the Bathroom
If you have an older toilet, you are probably using 3.5 gallons or more per flush. Fortunately, modern toilets and retrofits enable you to save up to 18,000 gallons of water every single year.
Ask your local plumber about your green toilet options.
Fix the Leaks
The average home has at least one plumbing leak in the home, whether it be from toilets, sinks, or other areas in you plumbing. This could mean thousands or tens of thousands of wasted water every year.
A quick way to test if you have a toilet leak is by placing a few drops of food dye into the tank (remove the tank lid) and observing if any of the color makes it into the toilet bowl.
If you want to tell if you have any leaks in your plumbing system at all, find your water meter. It should have a “low flow indicator” (a.k.a. the leak indicator) which tells you if there are any low flow leaks in the home.
If the leak indicator is not moving, that doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t have a leak. Write down the odometer reading and then check back in about 30 minutes to see if there is any difference in the numbers (don’t use any water during this time).
Click here for more information on detecting plumbing leaks at home.
While fixing leaks may be as simple as replacing the flapper in your toilet or the washer in your faucet. If you can’t fix the problem yourself, call a plumber right away. You’ll quickly make the money back from your water bill savings.
Take Short, Cold Showers
This may sound crazy, but cold “Navy” showers have many health and environmental benefits. Your hot water is heated with gas or electricity. The less hot water you consume, the more energy you save.
While you may enjoy your long, hot showers, they could be doing more harm than good. A short cold shower will wake up your skin cells and give you that extra boost of energy you need in the morning.
You may also want to think about the fact that showers consume about 1/5 of your home’s total water usage. Even if you don’t take the cold shower route, consider turning off the water while you are lathering up. This will also save you on soap and cleaning products.
Speak with your plumber about installing water-saving devices in the bathroom, especially if you don’t have a faucet aerator. Aerators and low-flow regulators can help cut your bathroom usage by up to 50%. Click here to learn how to clean or replace your faucet aerators.
Switch to Earth-Friendly Brands
This green tip applies to everything in your home, not just the laundry room. There are many websites that tell you which are the most green, environmental cleaners.
Don’t Treat Toilet Like Trash Can
Keep a trashcan in the bathroom so you don’t ever throw anything in the toilet. This includes diapers, feminine hygiene products, floss, hair, drugs, and wet wipes. Yes, wet wipes! Click here for a full list of common items that you should not flush down the toilet.
The only things that should be flushed down the toilet are toilet paper and human waste.
Despite what you may think, it’s NOT a good idea to flush wet wipes. In fact, there are several ongoing lawsuits to change the packaging on these products. Some still say that they are flushable. These so-called “flushable” wet wipes have been causing huge problems at sewage plants around the globe. Since they don’t break apart like toilet paper, they can combine with fats, oils, and grease to create what are known as a “fatberg.” These fatbergs are costing cities, such as London and New York hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix. Just don’t do it!
Click here for more information on fatbergs and sewer/septic maintenance.
To avoid toilet clogs, only use the amount of toilet paper that you need. Let the toilet paper absorb the water before flushing it down.
Ever think about how waste matter is disposed of and where it ends up? Or how plumbing keeps waste and supply water separate from each other in order to keep us safe from disease? Since school is back in session, here’s a bit of Plumbing 101.
Wastewater needs a place to go. It’s important that supply and wastewater never meet. The supply and drainage systems remain two distinct subsystems and are designed not to overlap. One system brings clean water into your home, while the second system pushes waste matter out.
Plumbing systems ensure that wastewater won’t contaminate the water supply that we all share. By using things such as an Air Gap between the faucet and the basin, and a Backflow Preventer such as a vacuum breaker in the toilet, plumbing technology has come a long way to keep our water safe and our bodies healthy. Due to these and other advances that we take for granted on the daily, diseases like cholera are not something we have to worry about.
Water Supply System
The water supply system is how you get water into your home. It routes municipal water from the street to anywhere you need it in your home.
Water moves through water supply pipes because pressure is pushing it from the utility or a well to wherever it needs to go. When water enters your home, it passes a meter that keeps track of the amount of water you are using.
Your home’s plumbing system is a network of water supply pipes and drain-waste-vent plumbing. The main shutoff valve controls operation of the water system.
There also different types of valves that are used in plumbing systems:
Individual Supply Shut-Off Valves/Main Shut-Off Valve– Mostly used for when maintenance needs to done on the plumbing system. There is one for the whole building’s water supply and for each of the individual plumbing appliances, including the dishwasher, toilet, etc.
Additionally, there are Globe Valves, which are mostly used for faucets and repeated use, and Check Valves, used for backflow prevention.
You should locate where your main and individual shut-off valves are before a leak or emergency. When water is leaking into your home or from an individual fixture, such as a sink or toilet, every second that the supply isn’t cut off is more damage to your property. By locating the valves now, you can save time and money if a leak occurs.
Drain-Waste-Vent System – How wastewater leaves the home
Waste matter is linked with a sewer or septic system. It leaves your home through downward pipes, pulled by gravity. It ends up in a sewage treatment facility or septic tank. The drainage system includes vents, traps, and clean outs. It is sometimes called the DWV: the Drain-Waste-Vent system.
The Drain-Waste-Vent system carries wastewater from sinks, bathtubs, showers, toilets and other appliances that rely on water in the home. Drainage and waste are familiar words when it comes to plumbing, but people might be less familiar with the “vent” aspect of the DWV system.
The vent system’s job is to ventilate sewage gases from building up in the home. It also ensures that drainpipes maintain the right pressure for drainage. Preventing clogged drains is important for the plumbing system to function properly and safely.
How do we get hot water?
Cold water is always available for use by turning on the faucets in your home. However, you need a water heater to produce hot water. A pipe carries cold water to the water heater. The water heater carries the heated water through a hot water line, which then comes out the fixtures and appliances when you need it. Hot water is typically heated between 120 and 160-degrees Fahrenheit based on what you’ve set the water heater’s temperature setting for your home.
If you have any issues with your plumbing system and are in need of repair or emergency services, call on Gold Medal Service. We offer repair and replacement services for pipes, faucets, fixtures, and any other water supply related issue. We’re your top plumbing resource.
In honor of September being National Preparedness Month, we’re going over the steps for how you can develop an emergency communications and evacuation plan and how to put that plan into action in the case of an emergency.
How to Develop an Emergency Preparedness Plan
Fill Out an Emergency Communications List
The first step in developing an emergency preparedness plan is to fill out a communications plan for your family and household.
Keep a copy of important numbers and addresses in your purse, wallet, backpack, or any other container that you frequently carry with you. Have another copy in a conspicuous place in the home, such as the fridge.
Make sure you have list of meeting places, including:
Indoor Meeting Place – In the event of tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters it’s important to make sure that everyone knows where to go for protection. This includes places, such as small windowless rooms, cellars, safe rooms, or storm shelters.
In the Neighborhood – If you have to evacuate the home, if there is a fire or other emergency, everyone should know where the outdoor meeting place is. Choose an area near the home, such as a large tree, neighbor’s home, or the corner of the block.
Outside the Neighborhood – if you need to leave the neighborhood for safety, choose a safe meeting place in the area, such as a library, church, family or friend’s home.
Then most important thing when choosing meeting places in the event of an emergency is everyone knowing where that place is.
Pick the same person for each family member to contact. It might be easier to reach someone who is out of town.
Text, don’t call – unless you are in immediate danger, send a text rather than calling. Texts have an easier time getting through than phone calls and you don’t want to tie up the phone lines that may be needed by emergency workers.
Share the Same Information with Everyone
Create hard copies of FEMA’s Family Communication Plan and make sure everyone carries it in their backpack, purse, or wallet.
Post the document in a conspicuous place in the home, such as the refrigerator.
Store at least one emergency contact name in your mobile phones and devices under “In Case of Emergency.”
Create a group message list of all the people you would want to remain in communication with during an emergency. This way, when you send one text message, everyone in the group receives the message.
Have everyone install the Red Cross app and FEMA app for alerts, safety reminders, shelter locations, and more.
Purchase a NOAA Weather Radio and tune to NWR for weather events, technological incidents, national emergencies, and more.
Sign up for monthly preparedness messages on your phone by testing PREPARE to 43362.
Consider adding more items to you emergency kit depending on the unique needs of your household, such as prescription medicines, medical equipment, and pets.
Practice Makes Perfect
Have a household meeting at least once a year to review and practice your emergency communication and escape plan.
Here’s how to practice your plan:
Discuss the important information that you should send by text. You will want to make sure that you include information such as where you are and whether or not you are safe. For instance, “I’m fine. At school.”
Send a text to your emergency group list.
Practice escaping from the home and gathering at your local meeting place, such as the end of the driveway, a neighbor’s house, or under a big tree. Talk about how each of you would get to the out-of-the-neighborhood meeting place. Make sure anyone with disabilities has everything they need to safely evacuate.
Just in case you don’t have your phone on you, challenge everyone in the household to memorize important phone numbers from memory.
Make sure everyone, including young children know how and when to call 911. Remember to only call 911 if there is a life-threatening emergency.
Use NFPA’s Escape Planning Grid to mark all of your exits and go over this document with the household.
Review all of your communications information and update the information whenever any of your information changes.
Gold Medal is here to help you improve your safety and prevent thousands of dollars’ worth of damage. Give us a call today at 1-800-553-6060 or schedule an appointment online! We’re available 24/7 to solve all of your home service needs.
If you don’t know where to locate the Water Main, let alone turn it off in an emergency, it’s time to learn the basics. As a homeowner, knowing how to turn off individual and main water shutoff valves can save time and money, often preventing further water damage until the professionals can arrive.
It may not be an emergency, but remodeling or repairs, that prompts you to turn of the water to your home.
Whether a pipe has sprung a leak, you’re leaving on vacation, or you’re doing a little DIY plumbing, it’s important to know how to turn off your water supply for safety, maintenance, and peace of mind.
You may just save the day with these tips.
What is a Water Main?
A Water Main is the main line in a water supply system. It is an underground pipe that delivers water into the home. If a water main breaks or there is a water leak in your home, you will need to locate the shutoff valves as quickly as possible.
If a water leak occurs in your home, it can be a dramatic scene, with water shooting out and flowing into your space. If this occurs, will you know where to look? Which tools to grab? Which way to turn the valve? Water damage is expensive and the quicker you can troubleshoot, the easier it will be to repair the after effects.
An emergency water leak or main line break is not the time to go searching for your shutoff valves for the first time. Locate them now and be prepared to cut off any leak at the source.
In case of emergency: Cut it off at the source
Where is the leak coming from? The toilet? The sink? The bathtub? Each of these fixtures has a different water shut-off valve. If you can cut off the water at the source, then there is no need to locate the indoor shutoff valve for the main line, or the outdoor main line shutoff by the meter. There is the house-side main shutoff and the street-side main shutoff. In your modern home, these will be ball valves.
Localized Shutoff Valves, also called Fixture Supply Stops, are installed in the supply lines of toilets, faucets, dishwashers, washing machines, water softeners, and water heaters. Individual shut-off valves are oval or round valves that when turned clockwise shutoff the water supply to the localized area without shutting off water to the entire house. Below are a couple examples:
Toilet Supply Stop — Behind the toilet, you will see what is called the Packing Nut. The handle is oval or round in shape. If the leak if coming from the toilet, turning the Packing Nut clockwise will stop the localized leak at its source. You may not have access to bathtub/shower shut-off valves. If you don’t have panels or spaces behind the bathroom to turn off these water sources, contact a plumber.
Kitchen Faucet Supply Stops — Beneath your sink, you will see pipes with a series of valves. Each one is a connection to a different appliance, for example to the ice-maker or the dishwasher. If you cannot find the individual shut-offs for your refrigerator or other kitchen appliances, look underneath the kitchen, usually in a basement utility closet. Standard supply stops will leak less often than saddle valves. Consider an upgrade if you are having consistent issues with saddle valves.
How to locate the meter and main shutoff valves
The location of the meter and main shutoff valves in your home depend on the weather in your region and even the age of your home. In colder climates, you will most likely find them in the basement or in an area less susceptible to freezing. In warmer climates, they could be outside the house, attached to the exterior wall or even in an underground box close to the exterior of your home.
The water main outside, located near the meter, contains a “buried curb stop valve” beneath the ground and a “corporation stop” which is what connects your house water to the water main, but this is accessible only by the city. Never tamper with the city shut-off side of the meter or the water meter itself. It is both dangerous and illegal. If you have any doubts, contact your local plumber.
Keep in mind that in order to open the water meter box, you may need a special “meter key,” which you can find at your local home improvement store. Click here for more information on locating and turning off you main water shut-offs.
In the case of a water leak or main line break, call the professionals at Gold Medal Service for immediate backup. We offer 24/7 residential plumbing repair and replacement services when you need it the most.
It’s not good for your pipes or the environment to unclog a sink or shower with harsh drain chemicals. Choosing a naturally biodegradable solution, such as Bio-Clean, or a homemade remedy is not only effective but also responsible.
Natural Home Remedies for Slow Drains
Here are four ways you can potentially clear your clogged drain without having to call a plumber or resort to using harmful chemical drain cleaners:
1. Dish Detergent and Near-Boiling Water
While you may have read or heard about a baking soda, vinegar, and boiling solution for slow drains, it’s actually not a very good idea. Baking soda can be corrosive to your pipes and boiling water may cause pipe distortions. And it’s definitely not a good idea to use a chemical drain cleaner combined with baking soda and vineger, as this can cause a harmful chemical reaction.
Instead, we recommend using regular dish soap and near-boiling water to help clear FOG (fat, oil, grease) clogs. Simply heat up around 2-3 liters of water to a near-boil and stir in a few tablespoons of natural dish detergent. Slowly pour this solution down your slow-running drain, and flush it with some hot tap water for a minute or two. Repeat as necessary.
The dish soap and near-boiling water method is probably best for kitchen drains where FOG buildup is probably the main cause of the clog.
Warning: Do NOT use boiling water. The Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) requires water to be no hotter than 180 degrees Fahrenheit in ABS pipes. DOn’t worry about small amounts of boiling water, as when you drain your pasta or dump hot coffee down the drain. This would not be enough to cause any damage to your plumbing.
2. Biological Enzyme Cleaner (Bio-Clean)
We’ve already written about the wonders of Bio-Clean, our pick for biological cleaners for slow drains. It works by using enzymes to biodegrade organic material in your pipes. Each spoonful of Bio-Clean contains millions and millions of bacteria. According to the Bio-Clean website, “each one will eat its weight of waste every 60 seconds.” We like it because it is safe and effective to use on all of your drains.
Bio-Clean works best on organic-based clogs, such as grease, soap, and hair. Simply follow the directions on the package and within the hour you should have clear-running drains again. Use the product at night when the drains aren’t being used.
Using a plunger on a slow sink drain will help loosen any lodged goop or debris, such as hair. Be sure to cover the sink overflow hole with a rag, creating a seal around the plunger head. Then run a bit of water.
Next, place the plunger over the drain and gently, but with force, plunge up and down for several strokes. If the water drains out, you’ve succeeded in fixing your slow drain. Once the drain has opened up, run hot or near-boiling water down the drain, just as you would with the previous home remedies.
4. Drain Snake
If none of the above methods work, or you do not have the required ingredients at home, you can always try the snake method. If you have a small hand-snake, then you can use this to unclog the drain.
How to use a plunger’s snake:
Put the end of the snake into the drain opening and turn the handle until you feel resistance. You may have to remove the drain trap for the snake to fit.
Continue to turn the handle until you feel it loosen. Sometimes the clog comes out attached to the snake, while other times it flushes down the pipe. The rotating action is what catches or chops up the clog.
If you cannot rotate the snake any further, pull it out. The clog will often come attached with it.
Once you are done, run the hot water full force for a few minutes.
Repeat as necessary.
If you don’t have a plumber’s snake, you can use a long metal wire or bent hanger. Using a long, substantial piece of wire, snake it down into the drain and try to feel where the clog is. Wiggle the wire to loosen it up. Make sure the end of the wire has a little hook to help pull out the clog, which is especially useful for hair clogs. Learn the step-by-step process for unclogging hair clogs in bathroom sinks.
Once you’ve loosened the drain, run hot or boiling water into the drain to help clear out more of the debris.
Clear as you go: Drain Maintenance Tips
Drain clogs happen over time, and are bound to happen eventually. If drains are cleaned periodically, you are less likely to have to deal with a bad clog. Keep your drains flowing with these maintenance tips:
Use drain catchers – catch hair and large objects before they make their way down your drain with drain catchers and guards, sometimes known as hair filters.
Never pour FOG (Fats, Oil or Grease) down a drain – grease and fats should never be put down your drains or garbage disposals. This is one of the most common sources of drain clogs and “fatbergs” in municipal plumbing systems. Learn what you should never put down garbage disposals.
Weekly hot water cleanse – Once a week or so, pour a large pot of near-boiling water down the drain. This will flush the drain keeping debris from building up into an inconvenient clog.
Monthly enzyme bath – Using an enzymatic cleaner will keep your drains clean and clear. Enzyme cleaners break down organic matter, melt away grease buildup and keep your drain from a slow flow.
Protect your disposals – Throw some ice cubes or citrus peels down the disposal for a fresh way to clean and sharpen your disposal blades. When your disposal is working well, your kitchen sink is less likely to clog.
If one drain is clogged, then your plumbing problem is centralized. But if many of your drains are running slow, then there may be a bigger issue with your septic tank. If you think your septic tank may be backing up, contact a professional at Gold Medal Service to perform plumbing repair on your sewage and drain system.