1:5:10:365 EcoTip Blog

December 19, 2008

:354 Green Plumbers

Filed under: :354 Green Plumbers — Tags: , , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 4:59 am

Take the 1:5:10:365 challenge: Do one thing – for 5 to 10 minutes – 365 days a year to make our home and planet environment better.

1:5:10:354 EcoTip: Green Plumbers USA is a national training and accreditation organization that can assist in locating plumbers that have been specifically trained in a variety of areas of plumbing specialty that help conserve water and energy. You can search their data base of green plumbers in your area at http://www.greenplumbersusa.com/consumers/find-greenplumber

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November 27, 2008

:332 Mulch Plumbing

Filed under: :332 Mulch Plumbing — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:35 am

Take the 1:5:10:365 challenge: Do one thing – for 5 to 10 minutes – 365 days a year to make our home and planet environment better.

1:5:10:332 EcoTip: If your part of the country routinely experiences freezing conditions, your in-ground plumbing is probably installed so it is protected. If your in-ground plumbing isn’t adequately protected, throwing a couple of feet of mulch over the area at risk may provide the extra insulation necessary to keep the pipes from freezing.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :331

Sprinkler systems should be drained and blown out. When sprinklers are installed in areas that routinely freeze – they should have drain plugs built in at the lowest points. If the system doesn’t have a good way to drain it and blow out the water – mulching over the lines may do the trick. This is also true for points where the water supply line isn’t burried deeply enough. Simply add mulch over the top of the area to be protected.

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November 22, 2008

:327 Lead in Fixtures

Filed under: :327 Lead in Fixtures — Tags: , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:27 am

Take the 1:5:10:365 challenge: Do one thing – for 5 to 10 minutes – 365 days a year to make our home and planet environment better.

1:5:10:326 EcoTip: Brass plumbing fixtures and lead solder have frequently contained lead. When purchasing new fixtures or soldering copper joints make sure they are certified lead free. You can’t tell if a fixture has brass just by looking at it. The brass is frequently used on the inside of the fixture where it is not visible.

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 Additional Information:

To test for lead in fixtures, you can perform a duel lead test. Let the water sit in the fixture overnight then collect the first water from the tap for analysis. Collect a second sample of water after it has been allowed to run for several minutes to clear the plumbing. If the first sample has lead and the second doesn’t – then your fixtures or household plumbing are the likely culprit. If its in both samples – its likely the water supply.

National Testing Laboratories offers a duel lead water analysis kit.

Lead check swabs can be used to test plumbing solder. (see EcoTip :033)

Here’s a link to the USEPA water quality standards: http://www.epa.gov/safewater/contaminants/index.html

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November 10, 2008

:315 Defrosting Frozen Pipes

Take the 1:5:10:365 challenge: Do one thing – for 5 to 10 minutes – 365 days a year to make our home and planet environment better.

1:5:10:314 EcoTip:  If your plumbing does freeze – open the spigot anyway, it may relieve enough pressure to prevent the bursting of the pipe. Monitor the situation carefully so that if the pipe has burst, you will catch it quickly after the pipe defrosts. To melt the frozen plug use a blow dryer (not an open flame) and begin heating the pipe at the spigot working backwards towards the frozen point. If it starts to run from the spigot (even slowly) that will usually be enough to help melt the blockage.

192d-defrosting-frozen-pipe-replacement

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :312, 313, 314

Climate change isn”t only about warming. In my book- Extreme Weather Hits Home: Protecting Your Building From Climate Change, I discuss how to prepare your home for cold snaps and other extreme weather conditions.

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November 9, 2008

:314 Emergency Pipe Protection

Take the 1:5:10:365 challenge: Do one thing – for 5 to 10 minutes – 365 days a year to make our home and planet environment better.

1:5:10:314 EcoTip:  If you believe your plumbing is at risk of freezing and bursting, you may be able to prevent that from happening by opening the spigot at the furthest faucet along the plumbing line and let it drip. Of course this wastes water, but it is likely to waste far less than if the plumbing were to burst. If you decide to catch the water in a bucket for later use, let it run directly into the bucket. Never leave hoses connected to spigots in the winter. The hose is more likely to freeze all the way back to the spigot causing a rupture.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :312, 313

Climate change isn”t only about warming. In my book- Extreme Weather Hits Home: Protecting Your Building From Climate Change, I discuss how to prepare your home for cold snaps and other extreme weather conditions.

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November 8, 2008

:313 Winter Thermal Imaging

Take the 1:5:10:365 challenge: Do one thing – for 5 to 10 minutes – 365 days a year to make our home and planet environment better.

1:5:10:312 EcoTip: Winter thermal imaging can be effectively performed anytime the temperature difference between the inside and outside 20 degrees F or greater. The temperature difference is necessary so that cold spots such as missing insulation and air infiltration can be observed. This is a good way for checking to see if insulation in wall cavities or attics with plumbing are adequately insulated to prevent freezing of pipes.

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The missing insulation shown in this Fluke thermal image shows up as being cold. If there were plumbing in the area where the insulation is missing – there would be a risk of it freezing in a cold snap.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :311

A thermographer qualified to perform energy audits should be able to take the information gathered during a thermal imaging scan of exterior walls with plumbing and calculate the outdoor temperature that would be cold enough to cause plumbing pipes to freeze. By having this information you can monitor weather reports and take additional precautions during cold snaps when your plumbing is at risk.

Climate change isn”t only about warming. In my book- Extreme Weather Hits Home: Protecting Your Building From Climate Change, I discuss how to prepare your home for cold snaps and other extreme weather conditions.

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November 7, 2008

:312 Protect Plumbing

Filed under: :312 Protect Plumbing — Tags: , , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 4:37 am

Take the 1:5:10:365 challenge: Do one thing – for 5 to 10 minutes – 365 days a year to make our home and planet environment better.

1:5:10:312 EcoTip: As winter approaches its time to double check your plumbing insulation to be sure it is protected from freezing. Insulation should be in good condition and not have been pulled back away from the pipes. Rodent damage to insulation is another common cause of exposed pipes becoming frozen.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :218

The following excerpt is from my book – Extreme Weather Hits Home: Protecting Your Building From Climate Change.


In his book Water in Buildings, Architect William Rose tells us that according to the insurance industry the greatest losses from freezing weather conditions don’t occur in parts of the country that commonly freeze. “The claims come much more from the southern United States than from the northern states. Texas and Florida were highest on a per capita basis; Minnesota was the lowest. We can attribute this to the surprise factor — Minnesotans build such that freezing pipes are unlikely, whereas southerners may be caught by surprise by an unexpected cold wave. … Insurance companies paid around $4.5 billion in the 10-year period 1985-1995 in claims for pipes bursting”

Frozen pipes, ice dams, heaving foundations and overloaded roofs are all rare conditions in the north where people are prepared for them, but become epidemic when very cold weather hits the southern parts of North America. Plumbing installed in southern states is rarely insulated and frequently has some point where it comes above ground such as water shut-off valves and entry points into the building. Furthermore it’s common for buildings in the same general vicinity to be constructed similarly so when failures occur they tend to be repeated at the neighbors’ homes as well.

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October 30, 2008

:304 Surge Protection

Take the 1:5:10:365 challange: Do one thing – for 5 to 10 minutes – 365 days a year to make our home and planet environment better.

1:5:10:304 EcoTip: Rather than merely surge protecting your computer – consider having a whole house surge protector installed at your breaker panel to help protect your whole house.

Source: NOAA

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review:

The following is an excerpt from my book – Extreme Weather Hits Home – Protecting Your Building From Climate Change

My family moved to Prescott, Arizona, in the late 1980s. Our home was a two-story on high ground near the middle of town. The public utility lines for our home ran along an alley at the back of the property. A transformer on the power pole served our home and our neighbors on either side. Arizona is known for some spectacular summer lightning storms.

Since the power poles were clearly the highest point in the vicinity, I was concerned about lightning strikes. Shortly after we moved into the home, I had lightning surge protection installed at the service panel for our home. Within that first year it proved to be a wise decision.

While our youngest daughter was in the bath one summer evening an unexpected lightning bolt (literally out of the blue) hit the power pole transformer at the back of our yard. Plumbing is typically grounded to the earth, but that does not always guarantee that the lightning will dissipate harmlessly. The house shook, the power went out and the transformer caught on fire, but in spite of my daughter being in the tub she was fine.

Many additional strikes quickly followed with brief but heavy rains, typical of Arizona summers. The rains, fortunately, extinguished the flames from the power pole. Other than no power for a few hours and the fried lightning protector that we had recently installed, everything else was

Our neighbors weren’t so lucky. The neighbor on one side had their refrigerator and some small appliances blown out. The neighbor on the other side had their television’s picture tube explode sending sparks into their living room. This lightning was probably a type known as “anvil to ground lightning” since the strike originates in the anvil-like head of thunder clouds. These lightning strikes frequently occur without warning well ahead of the main thunderstorm. This firsthand experience convinced me that lightning and surge protection were important additions and had probably saved our electrical appliances and possibly my daughter’s life.

 

Lightning flowed through the plumbing and electrical system and fried this laundry sink. Courtesy of www.lightningrodstuff.com

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May 22, 2008

:143 Insulate Pipes

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

1:5:10:143 EcoTip: Insulating the water pipes leading to and from your hot water heater helps save energy and water.

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 Additional Information: 

According to the U.S. Department of Energy:

Insulating your hot water pipes reduces heat loss and can raise water temperature 2ºF–4ºF hotter than uninsulated pipes can deliver, allowing for a lower water temperature setting. You also won’t have to wait as long for hot water when you turn on a faucet or showerhead, which helps conserve water.

Insulate all accessible hot water pipes, especially within 3 feet of the water heater. It’s also a good idea to insulate the cold water inlet pipes for the first 3 feet.

Use quality pipe insulation wrap, or neatly tape strips of fiberglass insulation around the pipes. Pipe sleeves made with polyethylene or neoprene foam are the most commonly used insulation. Match the pipe sleeve’s inside diameter to the pipe’s outside diameter for a snug fit. Place the pipe sleeve so the seam will be face down on the pipe. Tape, wire, or clamp (with a cable tie ) it every foot or two to secure it to the pipe. If you use tape, some recommend using acrylic tape instead of duct tape.

On gas water heaters, keep insulation at least 6 inches from the flue. If pipes are within 8 inches of the flue, your safest choice is to use fiberglass pipe-wrap (at least 1-inch thick) without a facing. You can use either wire or aluminum foil tape to secure it to the pipe.

Source: http://www.eere.energy.gov/consumer/your_home/water_heating/index.cfm/mytopic=13060

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January 9, 2008

:009 Hidden Water Leaks

Suggested Review – :001, :002, :007, :008

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet.

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1:5:10:007 Tip: Sometimes water leaks may not be obvious. To locate hidden leaks shut off all your taps so that no water is being used. Now check your water meter and record the reading. Let it sit for awhile. Overnight is best, then check the meter reading again and record the difference as well as how much time has elapsed.

If the reading has changed something is leaking or someone used the water. If there is a leak, you may be able to determine the approximate location by looking for abnormally wet areas of soil for the incoming line. Other sources of hidden water leaks may include sprinkler systems or broken pipes in slab foundations. This can be a serious situation if it isn’t discovered early and taken care of since the water can migrate a distance through the slab and the excess moisture cause mold and rot in building materials and contents. There are special leak detection companies that use listening devices to “hear” the location of the leak to help pinpoint repairs.

If indoor water leaks have caused water damage, it can result in big expenses and lead to mold if you don’t act quickly. That’s the topic of tomorrow’s 1:5:10 Tip.

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Additional Information:

You can calculate how much hidden leaks are costing by wasting water by multiplying the difference in the meter readings by an appropriate factor.

If you determined hidden water leaks by checking the difference after 6 hours then you would multiply the units of water by 1460. For 12 hours multiply by 730 and for 24 hours use 365.

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