Month: April 2016

April Showers? Making use of Rainwater Harvesting

april showers rainwater harvestingThe idea of rainwater harvesting as a way of saving water has been around for a long time; however, with increased pressure to go green, it has become more popular of late. You can gather rainwater when it is plentiful and use it at other times, but you might be surprised to find these are not always the times you would most expect and that rainwater is not just for watering the garden.

April showers?

Traditionally we associate the month of April with showers; however, in recent years it has been one of the driest months of the year in the UK. If you have been collecting rainwater through the winter months, April is the time when you may have to think about using it in earnest.

You can collect rainwater as it runs off the roof. In the past this has been done using a water butt so that the contents can be used in the garden; however, nowadays it is possible to collect the water in a plastic tank or cistern. It is also possible to collect the surface water that runs off from drives and patios and use it for a variety of domestic purposes.

Why rainwater harvesting?

Using rainwater for the garden is popular and ideal for this purpose; however, it can be used for a range of other purposes, from flushing the toilet to washing the car or even running the washing machine. You can use a pump to move the contents of your rainwater system to where it is needed.

In a previous blog post we looked at rainwater harvesting using the Grundfos range of pumps, and there are a number of advantages to doing this. Now that many homes have metered water, harvesting rainwater gives you an extra source of water for free, which means you can save on your household budgets. It also means you are not wasting clean, drinkable water on tasks such as watering the garden or hosing down the patio.

Using a pump

Collecting rainwater via a butt usually involves a degree of manual labour to make use of the collected water. If you want to make more general use of your free rainwater or surface water, then some kind of pumped system is needed.

Rather than using a domestic shower booster pump, there are specialised rainwater options available such as the KSB Hya-Rain Rainwater Harvesting Pumps. These are electrically powered and are ideal for feeding irrigation and sprinkler systems and for pumping water into the house for other uses, such as flushing the lavatory.

Backup systems

The unpredictable nature of rainfall means you may not always have a supply available when you need it, of course, such as those recent dry Aprils. You do not need to worry, however, as harvesting systems can be designed with a mains water backup to ensure that your system won’t run dry.

If you are keen to save on your water bills and do your bit for the environment, it makes sense to consider the advantages of harvesting rainwater.

Common Plumbing Problems and When to Call a Professional

plumbing problems

Plumbing is necessary for many aspects of modern life; however, if it is doing its job correctly, it should not even be noticed. This often means that plumbing is not thought about until something has already gone wrong. While you may be able to remedy a lightly-blocked toilet or slow-draining sink with a common domestic plunger, attempting to fix certain common plumbing problems yourself carries the risk of simply making them worse.

The following issues usually require the attention of a qualified professional…

1. Dripping taps

This is probably the most common plumbing problem and one that is often dismissed, as it progresses very gradually. Although each drip might not seem like an issue, over the course of a year you could be flushing hundreds of gallons of water down the drain, along with a sizeable amount of money.

A dripping tap is technically a leak. Water enters your home from the mains system under pressure, with taps containing rubber washers designed to create a water-tight seal to hold back the flow. Through use, these washers can deform or even become unseated, allowing through a minute trickle of water that drips out of the tap.

Replacing a washer yourself is feasible but will be significantly easier with specialist tools. Depending on the length of the leak, the valve seat itself may have been corroded, which will need to be replaced. More modern sinks may not contain washers, instead using ceramic discs that slot together to form a more durable seal. In all these circumstances, the job is best left to a trained professional.

2. Inconsistent water pressure

Low water pressure is another very common plumbing problem. There are a range of possible causes, including some related to the wider water mains supply that are out of your control; however, the most frequent cause is a build-up of mineral deposits within the fixture itself.

Unless you have a water filtration system installed, the minerals dissolved in the water entering your house gradually accumulate along the piping and on the interior of your taps and shower heads. Some taps and shower heads can be unscrewed and soaked in vinegar overnight to remove deposits, while installing a domestic shower booster pump could offer a partial remedy.

Only a trained plumber can diagnose the cause of the problem and work out how to fix it; indeed, a sudden drop in pressure points to more serious issues, including a possible leak in the pipe before it enters your house. This could lead to flooding that damages your home’s foundations. Here are Five ways to improve water pressure in the home, if these steps don’t lead to an improvement, then it is time to call in a professional.

3. Blockages of all sorts

Be it your sink, toilet, bathtub or drain – if it has a pipe connected to it, it can get blocked. The first sign of a blockage is usually slow draining. If you manage to catch the issue here, then a trusty plunger may be sufficient to shift the blockage. Plungers don’t remove the clog entirely, however; they do dislodge it.

On the other hand, chemical drain cleaners containing powerful acids to dissolve the blockage will remove it; however, these chemicals cannot be used too frequently without the risk of damaging the lining of the pipe itself. If you start having to deal with blockages regularly, then it is time to get in touch with your plumber.

Spotting an obstruction

If you are experiencing slow drainage, as opposed to a total blockage, it is worth having a quick look with a torch into the drain or plughole. See if you can spot the obstructive object – it could be as simple as a clump of hair. If you can’t see anything obvious, consult a professional.

What is a Submersible Pump?

There are many different types of pump on the market for a wide variety of different uses, from permanent installations such as heating pumps to temporary use such as draining pools. A submersible pump, as its name suggests is capable of running underwater. This is one of the most versatile types of pump and is useful for a range of applications, including removing water from basement sumps and getting rid of flood water.

There are different types of submersible to cope with different applications; therefore, it is important to understand the differences between them and the features you need to look out for when you are looking to buy.

Pump features

Pumps such as the Grundfos Unilift range of submersibles have a sealed design with watertight gaskets. This ensures that water can’t enter the internals of the pump and come into contact with the electrical components.

When used in a semi-permanent application, such as a sump to drain water from a basement, you should look for a pump with a float switch. This ensures that the pump comes into operation when the water reaches a certain level, meaning that there is no risk of the sump overflowing and no chance of the pump being harmed by running dry.

Flood clearance

If you need a portable pump to clear flood water, for example, other factors come into play. It needs to have a filter to prevent it being blocked by debris; in addition, you need to take account of the length of hose so that you can safely discharge water away from the property and the length of the power cable to ensure you can safely run the pump from a dry electrical supply. Ensure the supply is protected by an ECB for safety.

Choosing a submersible pump

The most common use for this type of pump is drainage. Manufacturers such as Grundfos and KSB produce this type of pump and they can be used for many different purposes. Most commonly they are used to clear excess water from cellars or basements that are prone to flooding.

In these applications, you can get a ‘lifting station’ from companies such as Calpeda. These have a tank to contain the water and incorporate a pump to remove it. This makes for a neat, unobtrusive solution that is ideal for removing seepage from below-ground spaces such as basement conversions.

Submersible pumps are also handy for draining ponds or swimming pools. They will often be fitted with a float switch to prevent damage caused by the pump running dry and are available with manual or automatic operation. Most types will use a centrifugal pump for smooth, quiet and reliable operation.

Heavy duty pumps

Where waste water and sewage are concerned, you will need a different type of submersible pump. These are suitable for applications where there are particulates in the water, such as when emptying septic tanks or removing waste water from industrial processes. For help choosing the best submersible pumps visit our latest blog post ‘The 5 Best Submersible Pumps on the Market‘.