Waterwise Wednesday: Winter Prep

Winter officially begins this Friday. Make sure your house is ready to prevent freezing and flooding.

1. Know where your property shut-off valve is. The faster you can turn off the water when a pipe breaks, the less water wasted, water damage, and repair costs.

2. Insulate water pipes in unheated areas. Wrap water supply lines in unheated areas with insulation tubes made of polyethylene or fiberglass. The most susceptible pipes freezes are those exposed to frigid temperatures such as outdoor hose bibs and water supply lines in unheated interior areas like basements, crawlspaces, and even kitchen cabinets.

3. Drip your faucets. Contrary to popular belief, dripping faucets during freezing temperatures can actually save you money on water by acting as inexpensive insurance. Pulling water through the entire system by turning on faucets keeps the water moving, reducing the likelihood of freezing.

4. Check for leaks after the first thaw. Winter’s temperature changes between night and day cause pipes to expand and contract. When the spring thaw occurs, weakened pipes are likely to break.

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Waterwise Wednesday: Holiday Pile-up

Holidays often increase water use for meals, laundry, dishes, and bathing which also increases the risk of clogs. If you experience a clogged drain here’s the DIY green tips to try before calling the plumber.

1. Plumber’s snake: A plumber’s snake can be inserted into a clogged pipe to either push or pull through a blockage. Clogs are either pushed or pulled up can then be disposed of safely in the garbage.

2. Vinegar and Baking Soda: Simply sprinkle a little baking soda into the drain, follow with equal parts of vinegar and you will notice it fizzes up, dispersing any fatty deposits. Let sit for 10-15 then follow with a flush of hot water.

3. Plunge it. A change in pressure can often shift a stubborn clog. Create a strong seal round the edge of the plunger. Keep water over the cup of the plunger and move it back and forth a few times. Periodically check to make sure the blockage is coming loose. Then remove and dispose of the clog in the garbage (if it is in a solid lump).

4. Use drain cleaners with chemicals as a last resort. Drain cleaners contain a number of chemicals, including bleaches, lye, caustic soda and sodium silicate. When these substances react with water they can release fumes that cause breathing problems, running eyes or skin irritations. Drain cleaners can also change the pH of water, in turn affecting organisms living in our waterways.

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Waterwise Wednesday: Leaky Toilet

The bathroom toilet accounts for 25%-30% of daily water use in the U.S. home. A leaky toilet can waste as much as 200 gallons of water a day.

Check for leaks by putting a few drops of food coloring in the tank, don’t flush. 
If the color reaches the bowl in 10-15 minutes there’s a leak. It’s likely the toilet flapper is worn and no longer seals.


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