Water-saving plumbing devices, such as low-flow showerheads, faucet aerators and low-flow toilets are devices that you can install to help conserve our most essential natural resource. And don’t forget, low-flow devices can also save you hundreds of dollars a year in water costs.
Taking showers accounts for about 17 percent of household water use, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)—more than 1.2 trillion gallons of water used each year. Modern low-flow showerheads deliver up to 2.5 gallons per minute—about half of the force of traditional heads—without sacrificing performance. This means cutting your water usage by 25 to 60 percent.
To swap out your old showerhead for a new water-efficient one, start by removing the original showerhead. With an adjustable wrench or channel-lock pliers, carefully unscrew the old head. Be sure to use a smooth, steady motion so as not to damage the threading. Remove the showerhead from the rest of the fixture. Put a single strip of white Teflon® pipe tape around the threads of the pipe. This will ensure a watertight seal between the new showerhead and the pipe.
Attach the new showerhead by first screwing it on by hand. Finish tightening with the wrench you used to remove the old one. Take care not to overtighten or use too much force because you don't want to crack the new showerhead. Finally, turn on your shower to check for any leaks where the showerhead and pipe connect. If any water is spritzing or dripping from the fixture, just tighten the nut a little more. If that doesn't solve the problem, you may have to unscrew the showerhead, re-tape and re-attach the head to the rest of the fixture pipe firmly.
Low-Flow Faucet Aerators
Faucets account for more than 15 percent of indoor household water use, according to the EPA. That’s more than 1 trillion gallons of water used across the United States each year. If you don’t want to replace your current faucet with a low-flow model, you can install low-flow faucet aerators. These adjust your faucet flow rate to 2.5 gallons per minute. Installation is easy and you'll start saving water right away.
With a wrench, simply unscrew the old aerator on your faucet, located at the end of the spout. To install the new low-flow aerator, just screw it on. That's it. Changing to low-flow aerators is one of the easiest ways you can conserve water.
The EPA says that toilets are the main source of water use in the home, accounting for nearly 30 percent of residential indoor water consumption. A low-flow model is an excellent way to lower your rate of water consumption and your water bill. Here’s how to remove your old toilet and install a new, low-flow model.
To remove the old toilet, shut off the water to the toilet. If you don't have an angle stop shutoff valve by your toilet, you need to shut off the water at your home's main shutoff valve. Flush the toilet several times to empty the bowl and tank. Then clean up any remaining water with a mop, sponges or old towels. Disconnect the water supply tube. This is the tube that attaches from the angle stop to the toilet tank. Unscrew from the tank.
If your toilet is two pieces, you'll have to remove the tank first. Reach inside the tank and unscrew the bolts that attach to the bowl. Use an 8" wrench to grasp the washer under the tank and use a screwdriver to turn the bolt. You should now be able to remove the tank by lifting it.
If you have a one-piece toilet, you simply need to detach the bowl from the floor and skip removing the tank.
When detaching the bowl, be prepared to get water on your floor. Take off the caps that are over the bolts in the floor. Unscrew the nuts using the 8" wrench. You may need a hacksaw to get these off if they are corroded.
Tilt the bowl forward and rock it from side to side. Lift the bowl from the floor. There is less spillage if the bowl is tilted forward. Put a rag into the pipe leading from the floor to keep any sewer gases from coming into the bathroom.
Pry up the old wax seal that is around the pipe on the floor with a putty knife. Remove the old bolts from the floor even if you didn't cut them with the hacksaw. You'll replace them with the bolts that come with the new toilet.
To reduce spillage, put a pan next to the toilet. When you remove the bowl, dump the excess water into it.
To install the new toilet, start by turning the bowl over and put on the new wax or rubber seal around the hole. Place a new wax ring over the drain horn. If the ring has a rubber or plastic sleeve, the sleeve should face away from the toilet. Apply a bead of plumber's putty to the bottom edge of the toilet base.
Turn the bowl back over and position it so the bolts fit through the holes. Twist the bowl a bit to make sure it is in the right place. Press the bowl down to the floor to compress the seal. The best way to do this is to sit on the toilet. Tighten the nuts on the bolts while you're seated. Don't tighten the bolts too much. If you do, you could crack the porcelain. Make sure the toilet is level. Use small wood shims to shore up the toilet to make it level, if need be. Over the next few days, the toilet will settle some, so occasionally tighten the nuts so that they are snug. Dump some water into the bowl to check for any leaks coming from the bottom of the toilet. If there's water leakage, try to compress the wax seal more. If that doesn't work, you need to start over with a new wax seal.
Attach the handle, flush valve and float cup ballcock. Once these are in place, attach the tank to the bowl. If you have a one-piece tank, you can skip attaching the tank to the bowl. For all other models, turn the tank over and attach the spud washer over the tailpiece of pipe. Turn the tank back over and position it so the spud washer fits into the hole on the seat. Attach the tank to the toilet using the washers and bolts provided. Make sure they are tight by holding onto the washer with the wrench and turning the bolt with a screwdriver. Be careful not to overtighten the bolts because you may crack the base. Attach the chain on the rubber flapper to the handle lever making sure that it is somewhat taut.
Reconnect the supply tube to the new tank. Place the brass compression nut, followed by the compression ring, onto the supply tube. Make sure the threads of the compression nut face down, toward the valve. Put joint compound onto the compression ring and place the tube into the supply valve. Slide the ring and nut on to the threads and tighten, being sure not to overtighten. Connect the tube to the tank using a compression nut. Open the angle stop and let the tank fill with water.
Test the toilet by flushing a few of times. Finally, attach the toilet seat cover and clean up.