The Pied Piper of Green Plumbing
Jul 29, 2011 09:07AM
By Linda Sechrist
A Pied Piper of sustainable plumbing practices, John Pieper and his wife have been green and spreading the word about its benefits long before the subject made mainstream media headlines. “I’ve never approved of putting chemicals in drains, commodes and sinks,” says the owner of Pieper Plumbing.
Even before Pieper became a licensed green plumber, he was concerned about the commercial laundry products, soaps and harmful chemicals going down the drains in San Diego homes. “When I saw a green plumbing course offered, I jumped at the opportunity, because I knew I could use what I learned to educate others and get them to see the benefits of green plumbing practices,” advises Pieper, who offers homeowners and tenants helpful suggestions that can save them money monthly.
Clogged Drains and Sinks
Buy or rent a plumbing snake, one of the most effective tools for removing drain clogs that even an inexperienced homeowner or tenant can use, as long as they proceed carefully. “Although a homeowner or tenant can rent a snake to save money, they need to know that incorrect use can injure them or cause damage.” Pieper cautions. Far more environmentally friendly than de-clogging chemical agents, a plumbing snake, with a little maneuvering, can usually get to the source of most clogs.
Invest in a water-saving commode. Pieper notes that although today’s toilets are efficient, people are sometimes reluctant to invest in one because they recall the problems reported several years ago when water-saving models first came out. “In the case of a toilet, you get what you pay for,” advises Pieper, who says that a good quality toilet rarely clogs. A high-efficiency toilet (HET), which uses only 1.28 gallons per flush, is preferable to a standard commode, which typically requires 3.5 gallons.
Check for leaking pipes, which should be repaired or replaced by a licensed plumber. According to Pieper, approximately 14 percent of residential water on average is lost through leaking fixtures or pipes, which homeowners pay for in their water bills. A telltale sign of a leak is an increase in the water bill.
A leaking toilet can waste anywhere from 30 to 50 gallons of water per day. You may have a leak if you have to jiggle the handle to make the toilet stop running, if you hear sounds from the toilet when it’s not in use, or if a toilet periodically turns the water on and runs for 15 seconds without anyone touching the handle.
To figure out how much water is being wasted from a leaking faucet, count the number of drips per minute and visit the American Water Works Association’s online WaterWiser Drip Calculator, at awwa.org/awwa/waterwiser/dripcalc.cfm. Even small leaks add up: 10 drips per minute, for example, equal the loss of 43 gallons per month and 526 gallons per year.
Pieper offers a free household water audit that assesses how much is used and can be saved with simple changes. “I did my own water audit and installed low-flow toilets, faucet aerators, low-flow showerheads and drip irrigation for my flower beds. Now my water bill averages only $35 per month,” he enthuses.