Why Arizona Residents are Installing Graywater Systems

Gray water systems are becoming more and more prevalent in Arizona homes as a way to conserve water while maintaining beautiful landscaping. Instead of using drinking water, these homeowners are reusing waste water to water their yards and non-edible plants. Not to be confused with black water, gray water, when processed correctly, is safe to use and contains no raw sewage.

So, what is gray water?

Gray water is considered wastewater that originates from a laundry machine, shower, bathroom sink, or a bathtub. It is water that is collected separately from sewage flow. Sewage flow comes from toilets, dishwasher and kitchen sinks. Gray water may contain the following:
• Soap
• Lint
• Cleaners
• Fabric softener
• Grease
• Oil
• Cooking fats
• Elevated levels of borax, sulfate, chlorides, and sodium

Because of the elevated levels of some of these chemicals, it’s important to know the alkalinity level of your graywater to make sure the water is not harmful to sensitive plants.

Is a permit required to use gray water?

Municipalities like the city of Phoenix do not require residents to obtain an official permit. However, residents are required to adhere to 13 basic guidelines. These guidelines include things such as the following:
• Human contact with gray water should be avoided.
• Gray water can be used for irrigation and landscape beautification, but residents are responsible for containing run off.
• Gray water cannot be sprayed. It may only be used via flood or drip irrigation.
• Pipes carrying gray water should be labeled.
• If backup happens, gray water needs to be disposed of via regular waste removal.

Using a Gray Water Systems Seems Complicated. Can a Plumber Help Me Figure It All Out?

A full-service plumber like vista-cars.ru Plumbing can help you figure out the best way to use a gray water system in your municipality. Conserving as much water as possible is important in desert climates where water is in high demand.

When you call your local plumber, you’ll get industry-supported advice for how to best use gray water for your irrigation needs.

I’m Not Sure I Want to Use a Gray Water System. Are there Other Ways I Can Conserve Water in My Home?

Absolutely! Gray water systems are wonderful, but they’re not for everyone. You can reduce the amount of water you use in your home by installing energy-efficient, low-flow fixtures. Toilets, showerheads, and faucets are available that use a small amount of water without affecting performance. And, not only do these fixtures save you money in terms of water usage, they are also quite affordable to purchase and install. There are plenty of models available in numerous price ranges to meet nearly all consumer budgets.

For more information about water conservation in Arizona, call your local vista-cars.ru Plumbing professional today. We service the metro areas of Phoenix and Tucson. Connect with us today to see if we’re in your neighborhood. We offer same-day service, no-obligation written estimates, and 100% guaranteed workmanship on all of our services.

5 Most Frequently Asked Plumbing Questions

Most people don’t have the time to study the intricacies of all their pipes, fixtures, and appliances, but a little bit of knowledge is both practical and essential for anyone. Homeowners with questions or concerns about the basic functions of their pipes, fixtures and appliances can learn a lot from the answers to these frequently asked questions.

How do I keep my drains running smoothly?

Use hair catchers and schedule regular maintenance for your system. Installing a guard on your drain keeps out hair and other objects that often get stuck in the pipe immediately below the drain hole. They are easy to install, and cleaning them is only a matter of swiping up the hair and tossing it in the garbage.

It’s also a good idea to have your drains professionally cleaned with hydro-jetting and other tools to remove mineral scale, sediment accumulation and tough blockages that you can’t handle on your own. Serious clogs can shut down your entire system or even lead to pipe bursts, so don’t wait too long to deal with them!

Why is my water bill suddenly so high, and how do I lower it?

A sudden increase in your water bill is an indicator of a hidden leak in your system. Toilets are often the source of water leaks, although any pipe or fixture could be to blame. Have your home inspected by a professional plumber with mobile video cameras and other utilities to identify damaged components. If you have consistently high water use, then installing flow-limiters may help curb the costs.

What are simple techniques for making my home more eco-friendly?

Install faucet aerators, smaller toilet tanks or on-demand water heating. Aerators are tiny screens that cap sink faucets, reducing the rate that water comes out without killing the pressure. Reducing toilet tank size also helps cut consumption by using less for each flush. Tankless water heaters can also help conserve energy and provide a more reliable supply of hot water.

How do I stop pipes from freezing in the winter?

Drain pipes connected to the outdoors and others in vulnerable areas should be insulated. Disconnect and completely drain garden hoses, as well as any line that connects to the outdoor faucet. Shut off the valve and let the remaining water flow out. For indoor pipes in basements and crawl spaces, you can wrap them in tube insulation to ward off the cold. You can also leave your faucets dripping slightly overnight to prevent freezing on particularly cold days.

Why does my garbage disposal keep getting clogged?

Don’t put grease, fruit waste or meat into your garbage disposal. Fat and grease harden when it cools, so it will coat the inside of your disposal and drain with a layer of waxy residue. Fruit and vegetables are also not plumbing-friendly, so dispose of those in the garbage can instead. Eggshells, pieces of plastic and other objects can also block up your disposal, so be careful about what you toss in the sink!

Tips for Saving for Money on Your Water Bill

Reducing water usage has many benefits. Saving money on your monthly water bill is one of those advantages. You may be familiar with water-saving tips such as turning the water off when you brush your teeth or collecting shower water to water your garden, but there are other ways to conserve water without even thinking about it. By switching out old fixtures like faucets, showerheads, and toilets for high-efficiency ones you can save a great deal of energy, which, ultimately, saves you money.

Here’s a surprising statistic. Did you know, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), that if every household in the country used water-efficient appliances and fixtures the savings could equal $18 billion U.S. dollars each year? That equates to 3 trillion gallons of water.

Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, many households opt out of upgrading or retrofitting their fixtures because they aren’t sure what products to purchase or they are concerned about the costs to change out these appliances. Let’s take a moment to talk about the terminology, cost, and what fixtures are best to upgrade.

Low-Flow Fixtures

When shopping for new plumbing fixtures, you want to look for the term low-flow. Ultra-low-flow fixtures use upwards of 20% less water without compromising performance.

Cost to Upgrade

Over the past several years, it’s become less expensive to upgrade to water-saving fixtures. Low-flow faucets, toilets, and showerheads are surprisingly affordable. Most households don’t have the ability to upgrade every fixture in the home immediately. They must make these changes a little at a time. So, which fixtures should you purchase first?

Ideally, you’ll want to upgrade the fixture costing you the most money to operate. Toilets, generally, waste the most water. It is estimated by the EPA that toilets make up 30% of a home’s total water consumption. Most toilets manufactured before 1994 use well over the recommend 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf) threshold. If you have older toilets in your home, spend your money upgrading these fixtures first.

Also, many municipalities offer incentives in the form of rebates to households that upgrade to WaterSense fixtures.

Top 3 Plumbing Upgrades

Let’s break down the three plumbing upgrades you can make today to give you the best return on your investment.

Toilets

We’ve already determined these necessary fixtures use an obscene amount of water. But, which kind of toilet should you buy? Here’s a quick overview of water-efficient models available.

Composting toilet: This is a dry toilet. It uses no water, but it is not suitable for indoor use. The majority of people who purchase these toilets use them in areas where water supplies are limited or a septic or sewer system is not available.

Dual-flush toilet: If you’ve traveled to Europe or Australia, you may be familiar with these toilets as they are very popular in these areas of the world. They are also becoming increasingly popular in commercial restrooms in the United States. The dual-flush toilet gives you two flush options: one for liquid waste and one for solid waste. The liquid waste flushing option uses significantly less water than the solid waste option.

High-efficiency toilets: This is the most popular residential option that meets the current EPA WaterSense standard, which is 1.28 gpf. There are numerous models available that cost less than $200. Some even cost less than $100.

Showerheads

Showerheads come in second to toilets as water-guzzling offenders. The average showerhead contributes to 20% of a home’s water usage. You may be turned off to low-flow showerheads because you’ve heard that the water stream is significantly lower. Technology has changed and responded to homeowners’ concerns. Today’s low-flow showerheads are much better and the water stream is not affected at all just your water bill.

Faucets

There are plenty of options available for low-flow faucets. Some households are actually going a step further and installing touch-free faucets. Not only do these fixtures save money, they are also quite sanitary.

If you’re ready to make the switch and still have questions, give us a call. Our vista-cars.ru Plumbing technicians are always happy to help you determine the best products for your home, lifestyle, and budget.

Green Plumbing Practices Your Plumber Should Be Implementing

Preserving the integrity of the planet’s environment is a serious concern that affects every person, animal, and plant around the globe. There are many  different “green” practices you can adopt in your routine and around your home to reduce the impact you have on local ecosystems. Selecting plumbers based on the sustainable and eco-friendly practices they implement is just one way to make a difference.

What Can Plumbers Do to be Green?

You might be surprised at how many ways plumbers can make their practices greener. An eco-friendly plumber can also help transform your home and lifestyle to mitigate its harmful impact on the environment.
1. Recycle or Reuse Materials
The earth’s mineral and metal resources won’t last forever, and processing them into useful material is an energy-intensive process. Green plumbers should throw away as little as possible. Recycling old pipes and discarded appliances keep them out of landfills and allows the material to be used again.
2. Offer Low-Flow Fixtures and Other Green Solutions
Most professional plumbers offer some environmentally-friendly options when it comes to sinks, showers, and appliances. Installing aerators and low-flow heads in the home can greatly reduce water consumption with minimal impact on performance. They should also offer tankless water heater installation as this technology provides hot water on demand and reduces energy waste.
3. Energy Saving Consultancy
Green plumbing technicians can help you evaluate your home’s energy water and energy needs to find the solutions that provide efficient service without significant waste. A few small adjustments to your system can make a huge difference, and it might save you money on your monthly bills too!
4. Green Building and Vehicles
This one may seem obvious, but any green plumber should make sure that their company building and vehicles are all as energy-efficient as possible. A LEED certified structure shows that the company is willing to take extra measures to reduce harmful impact on the planet. Economic company trucks consume less fuel, reducing toxic emissions that damage the atmosphere and the environment.
5. Eco-Friendly Marketing Practices
Minimizing paper use is a big part of modern green practices for any business. Using business cards or postcard-size advertising is often enough to get the attention of customers. They should also use paper made from recycled or recyclable material, and remind recipients not to throw in the trash can. You can also ask your plumber about paperless invoicing and billing when possible.

How Your Plumbing Can Benefit from Whole-House Filtration

Clean water is gentler on your pipes and appliances. Filtered water tastes good and can also improve the texture and brightness of skin and hair. Many people believe the water coming through their taps is the cleanest water available, but that may not be the case. Municipal water suppliers do a good job of removing containments; however, sometimes minerals pass through the city’s filtration process and find their way into your home. Although minerals like iron, calcium, and magnesium are not toxic, an excessive amount of mineral deposits can harden water and cause your plumbing system to work harder.  A whole house filtration system can filter out the majority of mineral deposits, leaving you with softer, cleaner water.

I Have Faucet Filters. Why Do I Need a Whole House System?

Filters that fit over kitchen faucets and showerheads work well, but they are not protecting the interior of your pipes. These products only treat the water as it comes through the nozzle or sprayer, and it only filters water at a particular point. A whole house filter treats the water at its source. Any water coming into your home is automatically treated before it travels farther through your home’s water pipes.

What Are Customizable Filtration Systems?

Not every homeowner has the same filtration needs. Some homes have minimal water filtration needs and would benefit from a simpler system. Other homes, especially homes with a large amount of square footage, may require a more powerful system to treat the water completely. Finding the right system for you shouldn’t be the result of trial and error. When you contact an experienced plumber, you’ll choose the right system the first time.

Are Filtration Systems Expensive?

Cleaner, better-smelling water doesn’t have to cost a fortune. The final cost depends on the type of system you purchase and the amount of labor needed to complete the install. At vista-cars.ru Plumbing, we offer free estimates and no-obligation water evaluations. If you’re not in an area serviced by vista-cars.ru Plumbing, check with your local plumber for pricing.

Can I Install the System Myself to Save Money?

Saving money is our customers’ top priority and our main concern. Installing a whole house filtration system can be complex and requires specialized tools and skills. It isn’t a DIY, home improvement job that we recommend tackling yourself. If you install the system incorrectly, you could damage your pipes and end up spending more money to fix those problems. Let a licensed and insured plumber help you out with this one!

If you’re interested in learning more about the available models or need your water tested, give us a call. We’ll be happy to discuss your filtration needs and make professional recommendations.

How Plumbing Automation Can Keep Your Employees Healthy

Employee health is a top concern for any business or organization. Sickness is not only a miserable experience for the individual, but it also means loss of productivity for the employer. Maintaining a sanitary environment is particularly important in the food service industry, as customers and inspectors both expect high levels of cleanliness in the establishment.

Hands-Free for a Healthy Workplace

One of the big advantages of automated plumbing is a decreased risk of transmission of contagious disease, as well as a general increase in hygiene in the workplace. Minimizing contact with communal surfaces hinders germs from spreading between employees and customers.

Automated toilets are a common sight in many modern structures. With the addition of seat covers, the user does not have to make contact with the fixture at any time. It also ensures that the toilet will be flushed between each use, so the next user does not have to deal with a mess left behind by someone else.

Faucets, paper towel dispensers, and air dryers can also be equipped with motion sensors, allowing employees to use the bathroom and wash their hands without ever touching a shared surface. Since many germs are transmitted by touch, this hands-free process greatly reduces the risk of spreading many common diseases.

Depending on the complexity of the automation, toilets can also include a cleaning system that sterilizes the seat between each use. This limits the need for covers, which can create clutter and mess in the stalls when used improperly.

Other Advantages of Automated Plumbing

Hands-free plumbing fixtures also speeds up trips to the restroom and reduces the opportunity for user error or negligence. Many plumbing problems in the workplace stem from a lack of attention or misuse of the fixtures. By automating the process, there is little risk of employees damaging the fixtures.

Plumbing automation also improves the perceived cleanliness of the establishment, which is particularly important for restrooms shared with customers. Since standards of personal cleanliness vary between individuals, automation reduces the chances of a customer or employee being offended by the state of the facilities.

Rain Barrels Fight Drought and Save You Money

In parts of the country like the West Coast where drought is a frequent visitor, rain barrels can be a great way to conserve water and save money on your water bill. But, they also have other benefits that you may not be aware of. Here are some things you may want to consider if you purchase a rain barrel.

Rain Barrels Reduce Runoff

Although rain can be hard to come by in many parts of the country when it does rain it can come down hard and steady. When this happens, runoff collects contaminants from landscaping and hardscapes. Runoff carries the water to area lakes, streams, rivers, and other nearby bodies of water inadvertently depositing the contaminants as it moves along. By adding a rain barrel to your home, you are doing your part in preventing runoff.

Rain Water Is Better for Your Garden

Water mandates in places like California have placed restrictions on how much water households can use, leaving many yards looking quite brown. Not only do rain barrels provide water to quench your landscape’s thirst, but it is also actually healthier for the soil than regular tap water. Water directly from the tap through the hose contains fluoride and inorganic compounds that can be harmful to soil and plants. Rainwater is pure and promotes healthy root development while reducing salt buildup.

Rain Barrels Keep more Money in Your Pocket

Investing in a rain barrel will save you money on your water bills if you use it correctly. A typical barrel can be purchased for under $100, depending on the style and size. It’s an affordable accessory for your home that is essentially a free water source.

Here are some facts about water collection that you may not know.

  • Just a half an inch of rain can fill a 55-gallon rain barrel, depending on the rate of run off your roof experiences.
  • You can connect rain barrels together to increase the amount of rainwater collected, maximizing your water conservation efforts.
  • Homes that rely on rainwater for irrigation and gardening purposes reduce the strain on the city water supply

You can find rain barrels at home improvement stores, at specialty shops, and many online stores. They come in a variety of styles from practical to splashy and whimsical to complement your home’s aesthetics.

For more information on how you can use and conserve water more efficiently, give a plumber a call today to discuss your options.

3 Ways to Save Water

The cost of homeownership is continuously rising. Beyond the typical mortgage and insurance costs, there are repair and utility costs. While you may not be able to reduce all the costs associated with homeownership without jumping through a lot of hoops, there are easy ways to, substantially, lower your utility and repair costs.

Saving water doesn’t just lead to a cheap water bill. Homeowners that take steps towards reducing their household water consumption are contributing to ending severe regional drought conditions.

So, what can you do today to start saving water? Here are three suggestions that not only conserve water but also protect your plumbing system from expensive repairs.

Replace Outdated Fixtures

Replacing old, outdated bathroom and kitchen sink faucets doesn’t just upgrade a space. While the aesthetic benefits are obvious, what’s not so clear is how non-efficient a faucet that is 10 or 20 years old may be. Faucets that do not turn off and drip continuously waste 100 of gallons of water each year. Installing new bathroom or kitchen faucets isn’t a costly repair and can easily be done by a professional within an hour or two.

Inspect Your Home for Leaks

Water leaks have a way of sneaking up on you and causing problems seemingly overnight. As spontaneous as water leaks may appear to be, the truth is that the leaks that cause the most damage have probably been present for quite some time. Household leaks such as slab leaks and sewer leaks cost homeowners thousands of dollars in damage and can threaten the integrity of the home’s foundation as well as the health of its occupants. Some leaks are visible, but the hidden leaks are the ones that can cause the most problems. The presence of mold, cracks in the foundation, or unexplained puddling on the floor are all signs that something isn’t right.

If you suspect you have a leak or just want to do a routine check, take a look at the water meter in your yard or on the side of your home. Note the information on the meter then wait about two hours. Do not use the water during this time. Come back and see if the information has changed. If it has changed, call your local plumber to come out and perform electronic leak detection or other leak detection methods to find out what’s going on.

Upgrade to Water-saving Plumbing Fixtures and Appliances

High-efficiency toilets, faucets, dishwashers, washing machines, and water heaters can reduce water usage by as much as 35%. Yes, these appliances and fixtures can cost a bit more upfront, but after just a few years of usage the utility savings usually makes up for the initial investment.

Other ways to reduce water consumption include:

  • Taking short showers
  • Watering the lawn less frequently
  • Running the dishwasher for shorter cycles
  • And, turning the water off when brushing your teeth

For more water-saving ideas or to schedule an evaluation of your plumbing system for additional water savings, call vista-cars.ru Plumbing today!

Best Black Friday Appliance Deals

Plumbers have a love/hate relationship with Black Friday. Not only is it the busiest day for retailers, but it’s the busiest day for plumbers too. Sinks, drains, toilets, and dishwashers work overtime on Thanksgiving and when the work overload can cause these plumbing fixtures to break down from the increased stress. In most cases, these problems can be solved with simple drain cleaning solutions and minor repairs. However, if the appliance can’t be repaired and needs to be replaced, there isn’t a better time to buy a new dishwasher, washing machine, or even a new water heater than on Black Friday.

If you need to replace an appliance, you won’t find a shortage of deals. Unfortunately, low prices don’t always equate quality. Here are some tips for getting the best deal when purchasing new appliances for your home.

Energy Factor Rating

Did your antiquated, mammoth water heater die a slow death over the Thanksgiving holiday? You can find some great deals on water heaters, but be careful about what you’re buying. All water heaters manufactured after April 2015 must meet certain Energy Factor requirements. These revised requirements make water heaters much more energy efficient and can save consumers money on energy costs. The bad news is that with the new stock coming in, old water heaters that don’t meet this criterion must be sold to make room. Retailers will be discounting old models, and budget-conscious consumers may accidentally end up spending money on a model that is already outdated.
At vista-cars.ru Plumbing, we recommend that you check out the manufacturing date on any water heater before you jump at an ultra-cheap deal. If you have questions, give us a call, and we’ll help you decide if the purchase is financially smart for the long term.

High-efficiency Save You Money

Some of the cheapest deals on Black Friday come in pairs. More specifically, a washer and dryer pair. Before you pull out the credit card and schedule installation, make sure you know exactly what you’re paying for. While the majority of washing machines on the market are Energy-star rated and use less water than models from just a few years ago, not all washing machines are the same. And, many of the cheap washer and dryer pair deals are not HE models.
Also, don’t be fooled into thinking a front-loading, ultra-expensive washing machine is the only HE model worth buying. We hear complaints from consumers all the time that front-loading machines get smelly and don’t work as well as traditional top-loading machines. The good news is that HE washers are available in all styles and at a variety of price ranges. So, there is something for everyone.

The best advice we can give you before you head out the door to replace a broken appliance on Black Friday is to shop smart. If you have questions, give us a call. We’re happy to help you find the right appliance for your budget and your overall needs. Together, we’ll all survive Black Friday!

Did You Know? 3 Facts about California’s 2015 Drought

Since 2012, the drought conditions in California have gotten increasingly worse with 2015 being the driest year. The following are a number of reasons the dry conditions have accelerated and led to increased concern among environmentalist, government officials, and residents.

Snowpack, an important resource that feeds rivers and streams, was at 5% of its average in March of 2015.

California relies on the Sierra Nevada mountain range as a natural reservoir. When snowfall in the mountains is sparse or significantly less than average, water delivery and storage can be difficult. Even if a decent amount of rain falls it still may not be enough to recover from a dry winter in the mountains.

California appears to be entering another period of dryness due to climate variability.

The state is no stranger to periods of dryness and climate variability plays a huge role in creating these conditions. Weather patterns fluctuate. Periods of prolonged dryness are usually followed by long phases of wet conditions. In fact, according to environmental records, the past 150 years have been the wettest in California’s history. Unfortunately, the state seems to be transitioning out of this phase and entering a profound dry period.

Fact: Scientists’ recent data suggests that California may be entering a period of dryness that hasn’t been experienced in over 500 years.

California’s agricultural community is using too much groundwater.

Because of the state’s warm, sunny conditions year-round, the agricultural industry is big business. Unfortunately, without enough surface water, farmers have been forced to drill wells deeper into the ground. Or, they’ve needed to dig new wells to reach groundwater to water their crops, and to meet the demand to produce and distribute their crops nationally as well as globally. These actions have created a chain reaction where the land is actually sinking in some places where groundwater has nearly been depleted. The sinking of large areas of land, especially in the Central Valley, is a cause for concern not only because water sources are being exhausted, but because this changes the geological structure of the state.

What YOU Can Do to Help!

At vista-cars.ru Plumbing, we know the drought isn’t just the legislature’s problem. It’s everyone’s problem, which means everyone needs to look for solutions even if the actions taken are seemingly small. Here are just a few things you can do today to conserve water and help California get through this dry period:

  • Take short showers
  • Embrace a brown lawn
  • Use recycled water, greywater, for watering houseplants
  • Turn off the water when brushing your teeth
  • Wash large loads of laundry
  • Use the dishwasher one a day or once every other day
  • Fix minor leaks right away
  • Replace old appliances like water heaters with new, energy-efficient ones

For more water conservation tips, click here or contact your local vista-cars.ru Plumbing associate for more suggestions.