Saturday, March 9, 2013

What's wrong with our plumbing fixtures?

I am an Interior Designer who also teaches Continuing Education to Interior Designers and one of my classes this year is a class on Water Efficiency in the Home. I was surprised to discover that home owners today consume so much water… supposedly 400 gallons of water per day per home, which means that an average family of 4 consumes 100 gallons per day per person!  While in Africa, some people don’t even get allotted 1 gallon of water per day! We consume way too much water! And since only 1% of all the water on earth is actually potable or drinkable, we need to stop depleting our water supply if we wish to have enough water to support our earth as we know it,  for future generations. The government has mandated that we use “Water Sense”   plumbing fixtures which use up to 32% less water than conventional toilets and plumbing fixtures, but many of these “Water Sense” plumbing fixtures don’t really do what they are supposed to do.   “Water Sense” kitchen faucets and lavatory faucets sold in the U.S. are now required to have flow rates that are no more than of 2.2 g/pm (gallons per minute), many have flow rates as low as 1.5 g/pm and pressure-compensating faucets have flow rates as low as 1.0 g/pm.  Shower heads and spray rinse valves sold in the USA  are also required to have flow rates that are no more than 2.5 g/pm and now have flow rates as low as  1.5 gallons per minute per 80 psi (pounds per sq inch).  All these “Water Sense” plumbing fixtures use up to 32% less water  because their flow rates are lowered by the aerators, laminar flow devices and restrictors placed in them , that constrict their water flow.  Aerators add air into the water stream to increase the sensation of flow, laminar flow devices force the water through small openings to produce dozens of parallel water streams, creating a more uniform flow and potentially reducing splash, and restrictors control water flow through other means.    But we all know that most people take those aerators and restrictors out as soon as the plumbing has passed  inspection …so once those aerators and restrictors have been removed, those plumbing fixtures don’t really save ANY water at all.  We need to both create plumbing fixtures that actually DO conserve water and simply tell our clients not let the water run for such a long time, when they wash their  faces, brushing their teeth and clean their pots and pans.  Don’t you agree?


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