Recently my water bills appear to be rather high.
None of the faucets appear to leak. What else could
contribute to a high water bill?
Answer: You may want to check to see if a toilet
is leaking. First, check the water level to ensure
that water is not overflowing the tank by way of the
overflow pipe. This is the pipe in the middle of the
tank. It has a small tubing connected to it. If water
is running into the overflow, adjust the fill valve
to stop the flow approximately 1 inch below the top
of the overflow tube or to the water level mark stamped
on the side of the tank. Second, put a few drops of
food coloring into the tank to test the flush valve
mechanism. If the water in the bowl changes color
within 15 minutes, this is an indication that water
is leaking into the toilet bowl and that the ball
or flapper needs to be replaced.
How often should I have my septic system inspected?
Septic systems should be inspected and pumped a minimum
of once every three to four years. You may not be
experiencing any problem now, but a full septic tank
may allow unwanted solids to flow into the drain field,
which is the part of the system that consists of a
distribution box, with a series of connected pipes.
Each pipe allows water to flow into a bed of stone
that drains into the ground. If paper and other solids
flow into the drain field it becomes blocked and ineffective.
A blocked drain field is costly to repair or replace.
The temperature of my hot water
seems to be higher than what I think I need. How can
I conserve energy, yet also be sure that there is
an adequate amount of hot water?
Most people are comfortable with their hot water set
at 120 degrees Fahrenheit, which is also the new standard
that manufacturers use when pre-setting it at the
factory. If you have an older model, set the thermostat
at medium. On a gas model, there is a dial on the
front of the gas valve. On electric models, the thermostats
(there may be two) are concealed behind the two panels
on the side of the tank. NOTE: Turn off the electricity
before removing the panels. There are exposed wires
behind the panels containing HIGH VOLTAGE.
I have a foul odor coming from my garbage disposer.
What can I do to eliminate this odor?
Foul odors occur from a buildup of food debris within
the disposer. To eliminate this odor, place ice cubes
and lemon or orange peels in the disposer and run
for 30 seconds. Next, squirt a little liquid dish
detergent into the disposer while it is still running.
Finally, run cold water for about 30 seconds to rinse
all the debris away.
I am getting a foul odor from a bathroom in the basement.
We hardly ever use this bathroom except when we have
company. This is embarrassing. What can we do?
Plumbing systems are designed to prevent foul odors
from entering the house by means of the trap attached
to fixtures. Traps contain water to seal out foul
odors; if the water seal evaporates, the odors enter
the house. To solve this problem, pour a bucket of
water in each trap, sink, shower and floor drain.
This will prevent the odors from entering the house.
We live in northern Ohio. Winters are cold and we
were told to turn off the outside faucets in the fall
before the freezing weather arrives. We did this,
however the pipes leading to our outside faucet still
froze and broke. What did we do wrong?
Turning off the water is not enough. You must also
disconnect the garden hose connected to the faucet
to allow the water in the pipe to drain out. This
will allow the piping to withstand the cold weather.
Ventilation and Air Conditioning
How much energy can I save by using fans instead of
my air conditioner?
The basic notion is that moving air (from ceiling,
whole-house, or portable fans) makes you feel cooler,
so you can turn up the air conditioner thermostat
or turn it off altogether. Whole-house fans are a
potential substitute for air conditioning, since they
move large amounts of air through the house and require
open windows. Savings from using a whole-house fan
can be large (it uses 20% or less of the energy of
a central air conditioner on a per-hour basis, although
they usually need to be used for fewer hours). Also
a whole-house fan provides good comfort levels when
it's not too humid or too hot outside (night time).
Studies by the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC)
show that ceiling fans can save energy *if the occupants
turn up the A/C thermostat*. Unfortunately, most people
don't adjust the thermostat. Often people leave them
on even when no one is home, which can result in negative
Research from FSEC indicates that whole-house fan
savings are quite variable, ranging from about 10%
to 65%. This range is due to the effect of climate;
a milder climate will see savings toward the upper
end of that range. FSEC found that if the air conditioning
thermostat is set 2o F higher when using ceiling fans,
the savings will be 14%. (With a higher thermostat
setting, savings are higher.) If the thermostat setting
is not changed, electricity consumption will actually
increase by 15%. FSEC's survey of actual behavior
showed no measurable savings from cooling fans (i.e.
in energy terms, the ceiling fan and the A/C were
a wash). There is at least one efficient ceiling fan
that uses less energy and has an occupancy sensor
(on some models).