When you think of the plumbing in your home, you may have visions of leaky, rust-stained pipes dripping endlessly in a cavernous basement. This is what many of us grew up with. However, today’s plumbing industry is much more advanced than most of us would imagine, with earth-friendly systems, technological novelties, and unique conservation methods.
Here, we’ll take a look at some of the biggest trends in the plumbing industry. Whether you’re upgrading your existing plumbing or working on brand-new construction, we hope you’ll get some great ideas.
There isn’t an industry that has not been affected by the “green” movement. Plumbing is no exception. This only makes sense, since wasted water is one of the biggest conservation issues.
First of all, let’s look at some appliances which can reduce your impact on the environment. The most obvious of these is the high-efficiency toilet or HET. HET’s have gotten a less-than-stellar reputation because, in years past, they were simply inadequate. Without getting graphic, let’s just say that it took several flushes to accomplish what one flush should.
Due to this unfortunate design flaw, many consumers who want to go green still shy away from HET. After all, this is one appliance which you really want to function properly! Thankfully, the new generation of HET’s is vastly superior to their predecessors. These toilets use a wide range of innovations to ensure that flushing power is more than adequate.
Perhaps the most popular variety of HET (there are four major varieties) is the pressurized flusher. These toilets make use of pressurized water instead of gravity for flushing power. This means superb performance with much less water used. In fact, compared to the seven gallons of water per flush which older toilets use, a new HET must, by law, use less than 1.28 gallons. What does this mean for you? If you have an older toilet (pre-1980) in your home, replacing it with a new HET will save you up to forty thousand gallons of water each year!
Be careful not to confuse HET with low-flow toilets. Although low-flow toilets have their fans, most experts believe HET’s to be the best of the best. Low-flow toilets are responsible for the energy-efficient toilet’s bad reputation since early models were undeniably frustrating to use.
Another thing to be aware of with HET’s is the noise. Since these toilets use different methods of moving waste, they are noticeably louder than traditional toilets. However, most consumers find that they get used to the extra noise very quickly and that they would much rather save water than have a quieter flush.
Before you install a new toilet, be sure to have a plumber check your pipes. An upgrade may be necessary to accommodate the pressure.
Greywater is a term you’ve probably not yet familiar with. It refers to gathering wastewater from your home…from sinks, washing machines, or showers…and using it for other purposes, such as flushing the toilet. This form of earth-friendly plumbing requires a significant amount of expertise to install, but the savings can really add up. Studies suggest that greywater technology may save the average household up to five thousand gallons of water yearly!
Rainwater collection is yet another method of re-purposing water. Installation is rather simple, although hooking up collection barrels to your plumbing is something that requires the expertise of a licensed plumber. Once this is accomplished, you can use this rainwater for activities that don’t require pure, clean water. Flushing the toilet is a perfect example. You’ll want to ensure that your barrels are installed correctly and are very stable; poorly installed barrels tend to tip over.
Water heaters are a big energy drain. Upgrading to a more green alternative can save you utility dollars and reduce your impact on the environment. Your options include heaters that emit very low levels of nitrous oxide (these are actually mandated by law in some areas), solar-powered heaters, and tank-less heaters which only heat water as it’s needed. Tank-less heaters are an especially good option for those who would rather use their basement as a room, such as a playroom or extra family room. Without a bulky tank, these heaters free up a lot of space.
If you’re considering a complete, full-scale plumbing upgrade for your home, seek out a plumber experienced in these matters. A centralized system that maximizes efficiency can lower your waste and your utility bills drastically. It’s also important to ensure that your plumber is aware of all the new requirements which earth-friendly plumbing entails. Extra electrical work is needed on some water heaters, and pipe size is an issue. These details seem small, but they can cause big problems if they’re not handled correctly during
Plumbing usually isn’t the first thing that springs to mind when considering a luxurious home. However, today’s homeowners are realizing that there are innovations available that can turn a plain old shower, for example, into a posh, spa-like experience. Smaller luxuries can, of course, simply make your everyday activities much more attractive.
Luxury faucets are a wonderful way to spruce up a drab bathroom or kitchen. Some of the newest models feature touch technology, allowing you to turn the water on or off by simply tapping the faucet. You’ve seen similar technology in lamps. These faucets are great for families concerned with the spread of germs since they can be tapped with an elbow instead of a child’s sticky fingers.
Customized showers are another big trend in plumbing. These can range from a luxury showerhead that mimics rainfall to an entire sauna in your bath! A sauna involves sealing off the shower area and installing plumbing which pumps steam. In addition, these saunas can feature stereo speakers, aromatherapy options and even relaxing colored lights. If you’ve always desired a sauna in your home, a shower/sauna is a wonderful option for you. There’s no longer any need to place a freestanding sauna unit in the basement, as was the usual practice for many years. Now you can relax in your sauna and, if you’re up for it, stand and turn on a cold-water shower to mimic the old jumping-in-snow tradition!
Luxury bathtubs are another popular option. Tubs with jets and massage were popular for many years, but they have been eclipsed recently by a very deep tub known as a soaker. These soaker tubs are another nod to luxury spas, where a soak in a deep tub is a popular option after various beauty treatments. If you still enjoy a tub with jets or massage, they can also be included in a soaker tub.
These trends have sprung from the recent economic environment. While these plumbing options are certainly luxurious and not inexpensive, they are dramatically less expensive than a trip to a spa. In addition, many people prefer having the rejuvenating effects of a sauna, for example, as close as their bathroom instead of having to leave home. Whatever your reasons are, the world of luxury plumbing is a great way to save money while still living the good life.
Finding the Right Plumber
Depending on the project you’re taking on, your needs in a plumber will vary slightly. For example, a full-scale upgrade, including earth-friendly options and luxury touches, will require a contractor with a very strong and current knowledge of the latest requirements, mandates, and technology. On the other hand, if you’re simply installing a high-efficiency toilet to save some water, you’ll most likely do just fine with a single knowledgeable plumber.
Websites that connect you with workers can be a great help in making your decision. You can browse through plumbers in your area, narrowing them down by experience, expertise, and several other factors. You’ll also have the chance to read reviews, written by real clients just like yourself. These reviews can be invaluable, as they give you a great “behind the scenes” look at how a plumber really operates. Craftsmanship, work ethic, and reliability can all be inferred from consumer reviews.
Discuss your plans with prospective plumbers before making any hiring decisions. Ensure that your plans and desires are communicated clearly, to avoid time-wasting delays. Your plumber may have some suggestions, based on experience, and these suggestions can be extremely helpful.
Don’t be afraid to ask about licensing and insurance. In the case of a plumbing contractor who will be working with a team, these licenses and insurance policies should cover every single worker. This ensures compliance with local law and also ensures that any injuries will be treated properly and without legal liability difficulties.
Estimates are another way to choose a plumber, but it’s risky to rely on them as your sole means of decision-making. A plumber may give an honest estimate that simply can’t be met, due to unforeseen events. On the other hand, you may run into plumbers who will give you unbelievably low estimates, then inflate the price once work has begun. Treat an estimate as what it is…an estimation. It’s only one element of choosing a good plumber; reliability and knowledge count for much more.
If you take your time in choosing a plumber, plan your plumbing project carefully and communicate your plans clearly, you’re sure to have a great experience. Once your plumbing has been upgraded, you can begin enjoying your newly reduced impact on the environment. Perhaps you can even meditate on it in your new sauna!