Category Archives: Conservation

As Californians continue to go through a drought that has been felt throughout the whole state, it is important to look at conservation efforts in our everyday lives. My Plumber CA works with our clients to help dispose of water heaters, save water in the bathroom, and a guide on indoor water conservation. Contact My Plumber today to find out how an HVAC Tune Up can help conserve energy. Call us today to check on your leaking toilet to help save gallons of water. We are here to help our clients and the environment.

How to Dispose of Water Heaters

Getting rid of a water heater isn’t like getting rid of a TV. You can’t just leave it on the curb on trash day, nor can you sell it to someone else who might want to use it. When you replace your water heater, it’s usually because the old one no longer works or has aged out of usefulness. No one else is going to want that water heater either.

Here are a few things you can do if you live in the San Diego area to dispose of your water heater:

Go to a Recycling Center

In San Diego, it is illegal to take appliances like water heaters and refrigerators to the landfill. You are legally required to recycle these and other appliances as per the Metallic Discards Act of 1991.

Once the water heater is drained, you can take it to a local recycling center. Make sure you ask if the recycling center takes water heaters before you just show up with it. Also ask if you are entitled to payment for the water heater since many recycling centers make a profit on these items by stripping them for parts.

San Diego also runs regular community recycling events, such as for electronics and used oil products. Call your city or county officials to find out if a recycling event is planned for appliances. You’ll be able to put your old water heater on the curb for pickup if so.

Ask the Utility Company to Take It

Some utility companies will take old water heaters and other appliances to recycle for you. Some will even give you a credit on your bill if you are upgrading to an energy efficient model. You may have to file receipts to get the credit.

Ask My Plumber CA to Do It

It’s not recommended that you install or remove a water heater yourself. Call an experienced plumber that will safely and properly install your new heater and can take care of removing and disposing of the old water heater. This is the easiest option since the technician takes care of everything for you, and you don’t have to worry about anything.

California Mandates New Water Saving Bathroom Etiquette

My Plumber CA tech is repairing a running toilet to help the homeowner save money in San Diego.Two weeks after unveiling a $1 billion water conservation plan, California Governor Jerry Brown announced that for the first time in state history California would implement mandatory water-use restrictions. To show how serious the drought is, Governor Brown went so far as to tell residents that even flushing is not always mandatory, or in his words, “if it is yellow let it mellow”.

The state has been desperate to help residents conserve water; the state began issuing residents $500 criminal penalty fines to water wasters, regulating watering times, and requiring the use of low flow toilets. In Santa Cruz one man received a $3,000 fine for having a leaky toilet for 8 days. This fine may seem steep, but San Diego toilet repair company MyPlumberCA estimates that one running toilet can waste upward of 7,000 gallons every month!

Huge Water Saving Without a Leaking Toilet

Stop plunging your toilet, get the professionals to fix your clogged toilet in San Diego.Although fines this high may not be very common yet, the fact is that residents in San Diego with leaky toilets are flushing money down the drain. One leaky toilet could cost its owner nearly $500 per year. Even worse is that one leaky toilet could be wasting more than 80,000 gallons of water per year. In San Diego, clogged toilets are only a portion of what residents use a plumber for. As residents try to save money, and help relieve the drought, plumbers get calls for all sorts of water-saving fixes. San Diego and a few other cities even offer residents a free water survey program. As part of this program, a Water Conservation Representative will tour your property to identify leaks and water-saving opportunities.

Replacing inefficient toilets, flushing only when necessary, and having leaky toilets fixed may seem like common sense during a drought, but some people are more motivated by having this new bathroom etiquette mandated. Whether you abide by the new bathroom etiquette to avoid fines, or just to save water; there is no wrong reason to do the right thing. Contact My Plumber CA for any plumbing needs!

My Plumber CA is Fixing Leaks for San Diego

From March 16 – 22 is National Fix a Leak Week. We are here to fix leaks to help in an effort to save water in our city. Water conservation is in everyone’s mind as California continues to see more effects of the ongoing drought. Trillions of gallons of water are wasted down the drain each year says The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  My Plumber CA of San Diego will do everything we can to help stop leaks and save all the water we can. For more information, see an article from The Times of San Diego.

Most Common Leaks for San Diego Residents:

  • Water Heaters

    Most water heaters have pans that catch leaking water and have a drain to control the water. Checking to see if the water heater is leaking can be a great way to track your water usage. Water heaters can leak from the tank, pipes, or drain valve. There can be many reasons why this is leaking, your best option is to call a plumbing tech for a free estimate for the water heater to do your part on saving in San Diego.

  • Garbage Disposals

    A single drip every minute can cause gallons of water to be wasted. Garbage disposals can leak from the top main seal, at the drain pipe, at the optional dishwasher inlet or along the garbage disposal body. To check the leaking disposal, wipe it dry, fill the sink with water and run the disposal. The leak should show itself. Call us today if your have a leaking garbage disposal.

  • Faucets and Shower Heads

    Gaskets and washers can get worn out and can cause leaks. An easy fix is to make sure your shower heads and faucets have piping tape, teflon tape, around all the connections and replace the gaskets and washers. This can have a significant impact on saving many gallons of water every year.

  • Toilet Leaks

    Most toilet leaks come from an old rubber flapper that is located in the tank of the the toilet. These rubber flaps are cheap and easy to replace but many people do not check on them. This stops the toilet water from running into the bowl and can save gallons.

Why do we need to worry about leaks in San Diego?

Simple leaks in a household can account for 10,000 gallons of water every year. Households with leaks, 10 percent of homes, have leaks that can account for nearly 90 gallons a day. With the continued drouth in California it is important that we all try and conserve as much as we can. Every gallon of drinking water we can save, the longer and better off we all will be. Take a look around your house to see if there are any leaks. Or call a local San Diego plumber to fix that leak you have been putting off.

The Water Impact of Thanksgiving Dinner and How to Dial it Back

It’s no secret that California is suffering from the worst drought in decades. What is a secret is the amount of water that you are about to use when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner. Listen, we’re not talking about all the time you’re going to spend washing your hands between touching the turkey and making the side dishes or the amount of time you’ll send in the bathroom after dinner. We’re talking about the amount of water that is needed to put that bountiful feast on the table in the first place.

We’re Not Talking Paula Deen’s Thanksgiving

We’re going to steer clear of the sensationalism in this piece. If you’d like to see some of that check out the Huffington Post product from last year Here’s How Much Butter It Takes For An All-Paula Deen Thanksgiving. Just as a small teaser – it takes 9 1/4 sticks of butter for her thanksgiving. According to Mother Jones.com, each stick takes 109 gallons of water to produce. So Paula Deen is guilty of over 1000 gallons of water use in butter alone! We’re going to assume you aren’t on board with the Butter Queen and we’ll go with a typical thanksgiving spread.

How is Water Use Calculated?

Before we can really talk about how much water you are using on Thanksgiving, we have to talk about how waster use is determined. You’ll notice as you go on that vegetables have a far smaller water footprint than meats. There’s a good reason for this. Vegetables grow using a set amount of water. Then they are picked and shipped. That’s the whole equation. For meats it is different. You have to calculate in the water cost of feeding and housing the animal as well. So, the cost of producing one tomato is only the water cost of growing and shipping whereas a turkey needs to be fed and housed and processed before it is shipped. We have taken our water usage values from several different sources to make comparisons, trying to use the median number whenever possible and focusing on California based amounts when they are known.

Dishing on the Main Dish

Let’s start out with the main dish. If you are a typical Californian family, you’ll either go with a turkey or ham. Turkey comes in costing about 468 gallons of water per pound, while ham is a more thirsty 576 (if you choose to go with a prime rib roast – the average footprint for it is 1779 gallons per pound!) Mind you, this is per pound. So a 20 lb turkey is going to run 9360 gallons of water!

Now we’ve got your attention, huh! How about cranberry sauce? Everyone has a can of cranberry sauce even if no one in the family likes it. The one can – 1559 gallons of water to produce. Yep, over 1500 gallons for that cranberry abomination that holds the shape of the can.

Sides Are Water Suckers

What about some of the more popular side dishes.

  • Mashed potatoes come in at 2528 gallons for that bowl on the table. To put that in perspective, that’s about the size of an average swimming pool. Add in another 50 gallons for jar or canned gravy!
  • You want the kids to drink milk, right? It takes 683 gallons of water to produce one gallon of milk!
  • Are you having canned corn? Add another 108 gallons per can.
  • Do you have a bowl of almonds on the pre-dinner menu? Add 1.1 gallons of water for every single almond.

Having a Holiday Drink?

Are you having a drink or two? Consider that one glass (8oz) of:

  • tea is only 7 gallons of water
  • beer is 34 gallons
  • coffee only 29 gallons
  • wine varies between 50 and 75 gallons depending on where it is shipped from.

How Do You Dial it Back?

So – what do you do to dial back this potential 20,000 gallon meal? The very first thing to do is to buy local. Locally sourced foods don’t have to travel vast distances over the road and eliminate the water needed to produce gasoline for the trucking industry. 2.5 gallons of water is needed to produce the fuel needed for one gallon of gas. So the shipping water cost of a food can be found by taking the total number of miles of the shipping trip, divided by the average MPG of a diesel truck (13) multiplies by 2.5. Now that cranberry sauce is getting even more water costly as it travels 3500 miles from the bogs back east. The water transport cost of hat can of cranberry sauce is 673 gallons!

Short of having a vegan Thanksgiving with a Tofurkey, this is the best way to cut down your water cost for the holiday. Source all of your foods locally and eat as many vegetables as possible. Need more convincing? Check out these numbers from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission.

  • Apples – 10 gallons per serving
  • Broccoli – 11 gallons per serving
  • Carrots – 6 gallons per serving
  • Baked Potato – 6 gallons per serving
  • Tomato – 8 gallons per serving
  • Lettuce – 5.6 gallons per pound

To have a water winning Thanksgiving, the key is fresh vegetables and meat in moderation. Cutting your turkey size and getting a 12 pound hen instead of a 22 pound Tom can cut nearly half of your water footprint. If you don’t want to skimp on the bird, replacing the canned vegetables with local produce can still have a huge impact. Keep serving sizes to 8 oz and pile plates high with steamed carrots and broccoli, baked potatoes and a salad with fresh lettuce and tomato. You’ll be just as full and you’ll be saving the environment at the same time.

 

All statistics were pulled from the following resources.

http://sfwater.org/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=93

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/24/water-to-grow-foods-infographics_n_4848161.html

http://foodtank.com/news/2013/12/why-meat-eats-resources

http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2013/11/27/families-learn-how-much-water-thanksgiving-meal-requires/

http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/03/california-water-suck

http://www.gracelinks.org/blog/1143/beef-the-king-of-the-big-water-footprints

http://www.treehugger.com/green-food/from-lettuce-to-beef-whats-the-water-footprint-of-your-food.html

http://www.gracelinks.org/285/the-hidden-water-in-everyday-products

The Practical Guide to Indoor Water Conservation

California legislators have recently been in the news for passing a law that would make wasting water a $500-a-day offense. But California isn’t the only place in the country that water conservation is an issue. Water restrictions can be found across the majority of the Southwest and even as far east as Georgia! With that in mind, we created the Practical Guide to Conserving Water Indoors. While everything on this list won’t have the same impact, every little bit counts, – even reusing your ice cubes to water your houseplants! We’ve decided to divide our guide into easy, bite-sized sections that cover that major areas of the home. We’ll start in the number one area for water use in the house, the bathroom.

Bathroom

  • Check your current showerhead for flow rate. If the rate indicated on the head is more than 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm), purchase a WaterSense labeled showerhead t replace it. If you are not sure how much water your shower uses, try to fill a one gallon bucket in the shower. If it takes less than 20 seconds, you will save water by changing it out.
  • Buy a shower timer or use an alarm to limit your showers to 5 minutes or less.  Every minute you shorten your shower will save you over 50 gallons of water per month. A family of 4 could save upwards of 200 gallons per month just by shaving one minute off daily showers.
  • Speaking of shaving, and other things you do at the bathroom sink like brushing your teeth, turn off the faucet while you aren’t using it. You could save 5 to 10 gallons every time you shave or brush even if you have a low flow faucet!
  • Yeah, Low flow faucets are a thing. A normal faucet can use up to 4 gallons of water per minute. Replacing it with a WaterSense labeled one can save up to 2.5 gallons a minute. Don’t want to shell out $100 on a new faucet, buy an aerator for each one at $10 each.
  • Speaking of shelling out cash, one place where you’d be well served by doing so is with your toilet. If your toilet was manufactured before 1992, you’re wasting water with every flush. Even those toilets aren’t the best. They use about 3.5 gallons of water per flush. New, low flow toilets only use 1.6 gallons. Dual flush models allow you to use a 1.1 gallon flush for liquid waste.
  • Toilets use the most water in the bathroom, and if yours leaks that can make it even worse. Check for a flapper leak with a dye test (food coloring is a good choice). Replacing the flapper on a leaky toilet could save 1000s of gallons every year.
  • Plug the drain when you start filling up your bathtub. Adjust the temperature while the tub fills to prevent losing water down the drain waiting for it to warm. Even better, don’t take a bath. Every bath uses 70+ gallons of water where a 5 minute show could use as little as 12.5 gallons.
  • Have your leaky faucets fixed. A single drip every minute adds up to 5 gallons every day. If you have multiple leaks across multiple faucets or showerheads, this could add up quickly.
  • If you’re waiting for the water to warm up in the shower, collect the cool water in a bucket and use it to water your plants. If you don’t have indoor plants, use the water on your outdoor plants.

 

Kitchen

  • If you are doing dishes by hand, fill up one basin with soapy water and the other for rinsing. This can save 100s of gallons over running water. Even better, use a dishwasher. Dishwashers use far less water than washing and rinsing by hand.
  • Instead of rinsing dishes over the garbage disposal and running water down, scrape them over the trash can. This goes for pots and pans as well.
  • Fill a pan with water to rinse your fruits and vegetables instead of using running water. You can save 10 or more gallons this way. Bonus water savings – use the water from the vegetable rinse to water your house plants.
  • Consider purchasing an instahot water heater in your kitchen. It will heat the water on demand and reduce the wasted water you use while waiting for hot water from the water heater to reach your tap.
  • Consider a drinking water pitcher for your refrigerator. This way you’ll always have a glass of cold water handy and you won’t have to run the tap to get it.

 

General Indoor Usage

  • Keep a close eye on your water bill. An unexpected increase could indicate a hidden leak somewhere in your home. Have your home inspected by a licensed plumber if you see this type of increase with no changes in your daily habits.
  • Look for leaks around the house at least once a month. Leaks can be found at indoor or outdoor faucets, pipe connections and along hose lines. Don’t forget to check behind the washing machine!
  • Only run your dishwasher or washing machine when they are full. If you are in the habit of running them daily, you could save over 1,000 gallons of water a month.
  • If you have a fish tank, when you clean it out, pour the water on your plants. The water contains nitrates that are perfect for the plant growth.
  • Set your water softener so that it runs the minimum number of times necessary for the water you use throughout the day. Most 4 person households can go two days between softener cycles.
  • Washing your dog? Do it outside in an area of the lawn needs watering. That way you aren’t wasting water down the drain.

 

Obviously there are some little things that you can do every day that will help you reduce the amount of water you are using or wasting. The real key is being conscious of what you are using your water for.

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Bottled Water vs. In Home Filtration

Let’s talk about that bottle water that you’re drinking. Is it really a good investment? Does it really taste better than what you could get at home? Here are some things that you might not know:

  • 40% of bottled waters are taken directly from a municipal water source. It’s basically tap water in a bottle.
  • 22% of all bottled water has a level of contamination that is above the state limit for California municipal water systems.

Ok, so the water you are drinking out of a bottle may not be as good as what you could get out of the tap. But sometimes it’s still more convenient to drink out of the bottle. But should you really be using those disposable water bottles or refilling your own instead?

  • 13% of water bottles are recycled. So 87% of all bottles end up in landfills.
  • 17 million barrels of oil are used to produce bottles for bottle water ever year. That’s conservatively enough to run 1 million cars for a year.

These are all impressive numbers, but they don’t really hit you where it counts. Here’s the one number that will.

A gallon of bottled water bought in individual 16.9 oz bottles costs around $10 gallon. Water out of your tap costs $0.0015 per gallon. Yes – those numbers are right.

If you don’t like the chlorine taste of municipal water, consider adding an in home filtration system. Even if you go with the top of the line model, your unit will pay for itself after about 200 gallons of water. Depending on how much bottled water you drink, that could happen in as little as a few months.

If you happen to live in an area where municipal water doesn’t flow, you can get a water softener system to remove minerals from your water and couple it with a filter to clear out the salt and leave you with crystal clear drinking water.

Call the My Plumber CA team to discuss your filtered water options today.

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Let’s Cut Your San Diego Water Usage Bill in Half

Water isn’t free, just check your bi-monthly water usage bill. The average water bill in San Diego can range from $75 to over $200 every two months depending on how large your family is. There are generally about $50 of water service related fees and the rest of the bill is based on usage.  What if you could take that water usage cost and cut it in half without changing anything about your daily routine? You’d be looking at savings of between $150 and $300 a year.

Stop Flushing Your Money Away

We’ll look at your bathrooms first. This is where about 75% of all indoor water usage happens. The toilet is the major culprit in most homes. If you have the original toilets that were installed when your home was built, they could be using between 3.5 and 5 gallons of water per flush. For the average family of four, that’s up to 60 gallons a day or 1800 gallons per month. Installing low flow toilets can cut this usage to 1.1 to 1.6 gallons per flush. That’s more than 50% less water use. Low flow toilets can cost as little as $79 at the home-improvement store.

Don’t Get Soaked by the Shower

The next place to look is at your showerhead. Older showers use 5 to 7 gallons of water per minute. Switching out these heads with new, WaterSense approved shower heads that flow at 2.5 gallons per minute eliminates at least half of your water use in the shower. You could shower for twice as long or keep your showers shorter and bank the savings. A family of four taking 15-minute  showers every day will save 130 gallons of water per day – 3900 gallons per month.

Retrofit the Faucets

Kitchen and sink faucets also waste up to a gallon of water per minute they are in use. Installing aerators on each of them could save up to 30 gallons of water every day in the typical home. That’s another 900 gallons of saved water every month.

The Water Usage Savings Are In…..

In total, the average family will use 6600 fewer gallons of water every month. In terms of your bill, it would break down like this. Water bills are measured in HCFs (hundred cubic feet). 1 HCF = 748 gallons. The average family saves 6600/748 or 8.8 HCF.

The water cost schedule for San Diego in 2014 is as follows:

  • 0 – 8 HCF used are billed at $3.64 per HCF.
  • 9 – 24 HCF used are billed at $4.08 per HCF.
  • 25 – 36 HCF used are billed at $5.82 per HCF.
  • Each HCF used after the initial 36 HCF is billed at $8.19 per HCF.

The savings on the average family bill could then range anywhere from $30 to $40 per month or $60 to $80 per billing cycle. If you make all the suggested changes to your home, the initial cost should be recovered in less than two years.

Toilet Won’t Stop Running?

Every plumbing service soon gets to know the pet peeves of their customers. Along with slow-moving drains, low pressure and a high water bill, a toilet that won’t stop running is a thorn in peoples’ sides.

Troubleshooting a toilet that won’t stop running:

1      Jiggle the handle. If that solves the problem, the issue is likely that the chain is wrapped around the flush handle arm. You can fix this by taking the cover off the toilet tank and straightening out the chain. You may want to cut the chain with wirecutters if there’s more than an inch in excess chain. That should help prevent the problem in the future.

2      If jiggling the handle doesn’t work, the next step is to see if the tank is leaking. There are toilet dye tablets, but you can use food coloring if you like (not red, it can stain your tank. Blue is your best bet.) Drop the dye into the tank and wait a few minutes. If there’s coloring in your toilet bowl, you have a leaky flapper. Turn off the water, flush the tank, remove the flapper (it’s usually a simple snap-on fitting) and head down to your local home supply store for an exact match.

3      Not the flapper? Check the float. Does it stick? Mineral buildup can sometimes cause the float to stick. If this is the case, it will have to be switched out.

Those three steps will account for 90% of toilet problems. If it’s still running (or you just don’t feel like messing with it yourself) give My Plumber San Diego a call at 877-697-5862

Another Water Conservation Tip

 
More from Wendell and Mark’sFavorite Tips

Fruits and vegetables often come with a residual coating of dirt, wax and pesticides.Most people rinse the food under running water to wash away the coating.However, this practice eliminates only about 25% of the foreign matter and wastes a lot of water.

There are better ways to clean fruits and vegetables before eating.For soft-skinned fruits such as peaches and apricots, make a wash of three parts water to one part vinegar in a bowl and soak the fruits for 30 minutes.For hard-skinned fruit or vegetables, such as apples or carrots, soak with a spray mixture of 1 tablespoon of lemon juice to 2 cups of water.Scrub with a soft brush and then rinse again with the lemon juice solution.

For your sprayer, avoid contamination by using a new clean bottle and sprayer, purchased for this purpose; wash it well with soap and water prior to its first use.Don’t try to repurpose an old bottle that previously contained household cleaner or beauty products.