Indoor Water Conservation
Maintaining your plumbing system
Repair leaks in a timely manner. Some leaks are easy to spot such as faucet leaks. Other leaks are harder to identify as they occur in places we cannot see, like the inside of a toilet tank. We can get used to some leaks and fail to notice them by putting off the task of repair. Perform a survey of all your water appliances and inspect them for leaks and proper operation on a regular basis.
Your toilets generally use the most water of any appliance inside your home or business. To check for leaks in your toilet, place a few drops of food coloring in the tank. Do not flush. Wait about fifteen minutes and look in the toilet bowl. If the coloring is in the bowl, you have a leak. Toilet leaks can occur in three common ways. A leaky flapper will allow water to enter the bowl. A leaky ballcock or fill valve will not shut the water off and allow the water to run down the overflow tube and into the bowl. An improperly adjusted tank water level may allow water to run into the overflow tube and into the bowl.
If you have a leak, you may need to perform some detective work to identify the source of the problem. If the water is not flowing into the overflow tube, you probably have a leaky flapper in need of replacement. Turn the water off to the toilet and remove the flapper. Bring the old flapper to your supply store to determine the correct replacement. A word of caution: there are several different types of flappers on the market. Be sure to get the correct replacement as toilets are designed to use specific flappers and the wrong flapper will result in poor performance and possible increased water usage.
If the water is flowing into the overflow tube, there can be two causes. The first cause, and easiest to deal with, is an improper water level adjustment. If you have the type of fill valve that turns off by means of a float attached to a long arm, you can adjust the fill level by turning the adjustment screw located where the arm meets the fill valve. If the screw won't turn or is otherwise unavailable, you may need to replace these parts. If you have the type of fill valve that uses a float that rises up and down the vertical plastic body of the fill valve, the float adjustment is made by squeezing a metal adjustment clip that attaches the float to a vertical wire, which ultimately turns the water on and off. If adjustment of either type of float fails to properly adjust the tank water level, you may need to replace the fill valve. If you are handy, the parts are available at any home or hardware store. For more information on toilets and the repair of toilet leaks there visit http://www.toiletology.com/.
Finally, replacing old toilets with new, ultra-low flow toilets (ULF) can save substantial amounts of water and in many instances provide for better operating fixtures.
Small drips or leaks in faucets can add up to substantial water waste. Often we try to over-tighten the faucet handle to compensate for the leak. This usually will make the problem worse. The best solution is a timely repair. Most repairs can be made by replacing worn washers, o-rings or washerless valves. These types of repairs usually require the removal of one nut and screw. The best procedure is to bring the make and model number to your local home or hardware store and ask for specific repair instructions when you purchase the parts needed.
Be sure your faucets have aerators installed to provide for efficient water use.
For more information on faucets and their repair, there are several Web sites available, including http://www.doityourself.com/stry/repairfaucets.
Installing new low-flow showerheads can reduce the water used in your shower while providing sufficient pressure and flow. To test the flow rate of your existing showerhead, run the shower into a graduated pitcher for 10 seconds. Multiply the amount of water in the pitcher by six and you will have the gallons per minute (GPM) flow rate. If the flow rate is above 2.5 GPM consider replacing your showerhead. Replacing your showerhead also will save hot water, reducing your energy bill as well. Showerhead replacement is an easy do-it-yourself project. Most home or hardware stores carry an excellent selection of 2.5 GPM showerheads.