Gary's 5 Plumbing Tips

1. Pressure Reducing Valve (Pressure Regulator)

The pressure reducing valve may be the most important single factor in your entire plumbing system. Without reducing the pressure to normal levels, every faucet, angle stop, water heater, water closet and hose bib will suffer excessive wear and premature malfunction. Any pressurized potable water system with a reading of over 75psi is not being controlled by a working pressure regulator. The only exception is systems, usually from the meter to the house, which use “multi-range” pressure regulators to accommodate landscaping demands. In the unlikely event that someone has used one of these “specialized” pressure regulators on a house system, the pressure should be adjusted to below 75psi. In many areas thermal expansion tanks should be used to protect against excessive pressure build up caused by reigniting water heaters during non-use periods. Please refer to articles on “Pressure Regulators” and “Thermal Expansion”.

 

2. Water Closets

As toilet tank capacity has been systematically reduced over the years from 7gal to 3.5 gals to 1.6 gals (and recently to 1.2 gals) many manufacturers have found it difficult to produce a water closet that provides a reasonably strong flush. A striking exception to that trend is the Toto water closet. The Toto “Drake” is generally regarded by most plumbers to be the strongest flushing gravity flow water closet on the market. When Toto first introduced their products they would demonstrate the Drake’s capacity by setting up displays at plumbing wholesalers and having their representative flush dozens of golf balls through the unit into a plastic tank below so onlookers could see the action. They don’t do that anymore, they don’t have to. Most plumbers know that if they use a Toto (especially the “Drake”) water closet, there will be a rarity of stoppages and malfunctions. What could be more annoying than a water closet that chronically backs up and requires, plunging, double flushing, or (worst of all and most costly) a plumber’s service?

 

3. Whole House Water Filters

San Diego County’s water has more chlorine than the typical swimming pool. Chorine and other additives called “binders” ensure you will not be sickened by drinking tap water (if you can stand the taste). Many people believe that highly chlorinated water is unhealthy, even if you can get past the idea of drinking Clorox. Yes, you can buy bottled water but did you know that a ten minute shower causes your body to absorb as much chlorine and other additives as 8 glasses of tap water? You can buy shower head filters that have to be replaced periodically (which most people forget to do and end up showering in tap water, anyway), or install a water filter that delivers bottle water quality water to every fixture in the house at a cost of .003 cents a gallon. The units we use are maintenance free and deliver a million and one half gallons of bottled water quality water before any service is required. If you have a water softener you are no doubt aware of the deteriorating effect they have on water heaters and other plumbing system components…not to mention you can’t drink the water. It is strongly recommended that anyone with a water softener consider replacing it with a whole house water filter.

 

4. Solar Hot Water

Anyone with an electric, or LPG fired water heater is paying a premium for energy. The new tiered billing system ensures that you will be paying a high rate for electricity and LPG cost parallels gas and oil products. Solar heating technology has advanced to the point that it has become an “investment,” as it dramatically reduces your monthly energy bill and effectively makes you more energy and government independent.

 

5. Bidets

Thirty years ago the sight of, or mention of a bidet brought giggles and silly jokes. In Europe and Japan bidets have been used for decades as a personal hygiene aid not only for women, but men as well. What more effective and effortless way could there be for cleaning one’s functional parts after using the water closet? If you have room in your bathroom for this often misunderstood plumbing fixture, you could make no more personally satisfying and effective a choice than to add one to your plumbing system.