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LWater Saving Toiletooking for ways to reduce your water bill? Toilets are one of the most water-intensive plumbing devices in the home, using as much as 7 gallons of water with each flush. By comparison a low-flow toilet uses just 1.6 gallons. If you aren't ready to replace all your toilets with low-flow toilets quite yet, but want to reduce the amount of water your toilets are using, there are a few easy to install options available that will make your toilets more eco-friendly.

Install an Adjustable Flapper

An adjustable flapper give you control over the amount of water used to refill the tank. It can save up to three gallons of water with each flush and is simple to install. First, check that the flapper is compatible with your toilet model. Once installed, adjust the flapper to get the right amount of water needed to do the job.

Install a Tank Bag

You may know about the old trick of placing a brick to the toilet tank to reduce the amount of water per flush. Unfortunately, a brick can erode over time, leaving damaging grit inside the tank that can wear out rubber and plastic parts. A better solution is to use a tank bag. You simply fill the bag with water and attach it to the toilet tank. By displacing water it will reduce the amount of water needed to refill the tank after each flush. Of course, the amount of water you save is equal to the amount of water you put in the bag, so experiment to find the right amount to effectively flush the toilet.

Install a Fill Cycle Diverter

Because the toilet bowl fills faster than the tank and the fill valve doesn't shut off until the tank is full, excess water is fed into the bowl. A fill cycle diverter can eliminate this waste, saving a half-gallon or more per fill, by diverting water back to the tank when the bowl is full.

TIP: Many utility companies offer water-saving devices to their customers for free, so be sure to check with your local utility company before purchasing a water saving device.
Thursday, 02 February 2017 23:36

The ABC's of Plumbing – Dual-Flush Toilets

In response to water conservation concerns in the 1990's, low-flush (or high efficiency) toilets were introduced to significantly reduce the number of gallons used per flush (GPF). Low flush toilets use 1.3 gallons per flush, while a regular toilet 1.6 or more gallons per flush. The average US home will save US$90 per year, and $2,000 over the lifetime of the toilet, according to the EPA. To be eligible to the EPA's Water Sense label, a toilet cannot be more than 20 percent less than the maximum allowed.

As the name suggest, a dual-flush toilet is uses two buttons or handles to flush different amounts of water. Depending on the design, the amount of water can be cut in half. While they can save a significant amount of water, the downside to dual-flush design is added complexity with more parts, as well as higher initial cost.

Have questions about low-flush toilets or other high-efficiency plumbing fixtures? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can can help with all your home plumbing installation, repair and maintenance needs.
Thursday, 06 October 2016 16:48

The ABC's of Plumbing – Toilet Fill Valve

The toilet fill valve a.k.a. "ballcocks" are the plumbing part that enable the toilet tank to drain, then refill after flushing. When it's time to replace the ballcock, you will first need to know what kind you have. Here are the 5 main types of fill valve:

1. Plunger / Piston Fill Valve – Plunger or piston style fill valves are one of the earliest designs. Made of cast brass it uses a bottom-fill water discharge tube. If you have this style of fill valve, you should replace it with a newer anti-siphon design that meets current plumbing codes.

2. Plastic Diaphragm Fill Valve – Diaphragm fill valves have also been around for a long time, but have anti-siphon design and are usually made of plastic.

3. Brass Diaphragm Fill Valve – Also has an anti-siphon design with brass construction.

4. Float Cup Fill Valve
A more up-to-date style of anti-siphon fill valve introduced in the 1950s is the float cup fill valve. Made of plastic, it has a floating O-shaped cup that moves up and down around the fill valve shaft. The floating cup is attached using a metal spring clipped to a metal actuating rod.

5. Floatless Type Fill Valve
Floatless fill valves are made of plastic and use a diaphragm pressure sensing design to adjust the water level in the toilet tank.

Need help replacing your toilet fill valve? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can help with all your home plumbing repairs.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016 14:09

Will a Low-Flow Toilet Work In An Older Home?

Installing low-flow toilets is a great way to conserve water and reduce your water bill. By using about half the volume of water as a standard toilet, you can save around a gallon and a half of water per flush. That adds up to thousands of gallons of water saved every year.

Many states and municipalities now require low-flow toilets on new homes or when replacing a toilet when remodeling a bathroom. For most homeowners, the process is simple and straightforward, but what if your home is 50 years old or older? Can your plumbing system handle a lower flow toilet?

The key to whether a low-flow toilet will function in an older home is the waste drain pipe slope. The waste pipe beneath a toilet needs a slope of between 1/8-in. and 1/4-in. per foot for the water to carry solid waste to the sewer. If it's too steep or not steep enough, the flow of water could allow waste to collect, causing a clog.

In some older homes the slope may not have been carefully planned. Since older toilets had plenty of flushing power with 3 gallons of water to work with, it may not have been a concern.

If you have an older house, here are some things to be aware of if you decide to install low-flow toilets.

1. If your current toilet backs up occasionally, even when solid waste isn’t being flushed you may have a clogged waste line. Have the waste and sewer line inspected prior to installing a low-flow toilet.

2. When the toilet is lifted off the floor for other maintenance, use a flashlight to check the drain for standing water in the waste line. Even if it’s just a small amount, it could be a sign that you have a negative pipe slope.

If you're concerned that your older plumbing system may not be able to safely handle a low-flow toilet, consider installing a unit with a pressure-assisted flush that uses water pressure to charge a compressed-air tank inside the toilet tank. When flushed, it will use the compressed air to drive water out of the bowel fast, forcing it down the drain and into the waste line with enough force to remove solid waste.

Have questions about low-flow toilets? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can help answer all your plumbing questions.
One of the more common plumbing problems we see is a slow filling toilet. Depending on the water pressure, a toilet tank should refill in around 3 minutes.

If the toilet tank is slow to fill, the first thing to check is the shut-off valve located behind the toilet. Make sure it is fully open for maximum flow. If the valve is fully open, try cleaning the pump and valve inside the toilet tank. Mineral buildup can cause the parts to stick. If the toilet has an older-style ball cock assembly, replace it with a new fill valve and float cup design.

If none of the above fixes work, call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning. We can can find the cause and recommend solutions.
Tuesday, 13 September 2016 12:29

The ABC's of Plumbing – Toilet Wax Ring

If you're noticing water around the base of your toilet, the cause may be a worn toilet wax ring. Made from a molded wax loop around a short plastic tube, wax rings are designed to fit almost any toilet and floor drain by conforming to the shape and size of the fitting. One benefit of wax is it's ability to resist mold and bacteria and retain a secure seal for many years.

Whenever a toilet is removed for any reason the wax ring seal should be replaced. If the toilet wobbles from side to side, or the height at the base is changed (when going from a vinyl floor to tile, for example) the toilet anchor flange should also be replaced or a spacer added to fill the gap.

If you're replacing a wax ring because of a leak around the base of the toilet, be sure to inspect the subfloor around the toilet for water damage and make any necessary repairs before mounting the toilet back to the floor.

Need help installing a new wax ring on your toilet? Call ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning, we can help.
New toilets sold in Florida must meet federal WaterSense standards. WaterSense certification provides that plumbing fixtures use at least 20 percent less water. For toilets, that means using 1.28 gallons of water or less per flush, as opposed to the federally mandated maximum of 1.6 gallons per flush.

While low-flow toilets will save up to billions of gallons a year in Florida alone, they can present a few problems. With less water to work with, you may find yourself flushing the toilet more than once because of their lower flushing power. This of course defeats the purpose of having a low flow toilet and should be avoided.

Often the problem is caused by an under-filled toilet tank. Check the manufacturer's instructions for setting the fill valve to ensure the water is at the correct level. Some tanks will have a fill line, but if there is no line a good rule of thumb is to keep the water level about a half inch below the top of the overflow tube inside the tank.

Second, open the tank and adjust the tension on the flapper chain. The chain should only have a little slack, if it's too loose the flapper won't open all the way when the toilet is flushed and water in the tank won't empty completely.

Have plumbing questions? Give ABC Southwest Plumbing and Air Conditioning a call, we're here to help.

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