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We are looking to replace our old rusty galvanized pipes,
and we are trying to decide whether to replace it with
copper or PEX pipes. We did some cursory research on both,
and will be calling local experienced plumbers to get
estimates. However, we would like to hear from the BPN
community on your experiences with either of the pipes and
your recommendations as well as your referrals of
experienced local plumbers. Thanks in advance. Berkeley
I was asking the same question about 2 years ago. There are
some limitations with PEX which result in flow/pressure
limitation and there's also issues with making tight bends.
While I think PEX is probably alright, I have heard of a few
people having leaks with PEX resulting in having to open the
wall to fix it. Never heard of that being an issue with
copper. As I recall price was about the same. In the end I
decided to go with copper. My reasoning was my parents
house was all copper and they've NEVER had a problem with it
in over 40 years. I would also NOT use the Sharkbite
connectors go with solder. If done properly copper will out
last you. ANON
I'm curious how much water people use. Our family has been pretty
conservative this summer, dropping our usage 17% over last year.
We used 201 gallons/day over the past 3 months. Not sure if we
should pat ourselves on the back, or try harder to conserve.
I know the average American uses 160 gallons/day, but what about
the average BPN reader?
Water Hog or Water Miser?
Our family of 4 used a total of 60-65 gallons a day over the
past 4 months, down from 96 gallons per day in Feb-April since
we started trying to conserve -- but I think we're at the low
end of things. We have a single-family home with front-loading
washer, low-flow shower heads, efficient dishwasher, 1 high-
efficiency toilet (and one old guzzler). We have a yard and
veggie garden but no lawn, which I think makes a big
difference, and I have a rain barrel that covered some of it. I
thought there was no room for improvement from the 96/day, but
we got the water use test packet from EBMUD and did all the
tests (fun for the kids!) and found out our old toilet was
leaking ($5 to fix the flapper, plus a new-found knowledge of
plumbing), put a water-saving bag (free from EBMUD) in the old
toilet tank, little things like that. Plus we don't always
flush if it's just pee (''if it's yellow, let it mellow'' -- I
know, TMI), save up water from washing/cooking veggies to water
plants, etc. I suppose we sound like total hippies, but it
hasn't really been that big an adjustment.
Excellent question. Our family of 3 (and two pets) used 103
gallons per day for the past three months. This is down from the
269 gallons we used last year for the same period. We got a front
load washing machine, and we have shortened our baths and
showers, which is how I think we got our water usage down so
much. I'm pretty pleased and hope to continue conserving.
We just got our statement and our family of 4 with a green,
lawn uses 132 gallons per day. We eat out once in a blue moon, and
drink tap water. We have a toddler (2) and a 4 year old, so we do
We were using 202 gallons per day at this time last year and
gal/day the past statement, but we're down to 132 this statement.
Changes we have made - we recycle our bathwater (used for flushing
occasional watering of annuals). We also upgraded our washing
load in March because our old one died. We water our lawn every 3
We are a family of 4, two adults and twins age 2. We use just
over 100 gallons a day, around 107-110. We give the girls daily
baths and they play outside every afternoon in a kiddie pool with
the hose running on the lowest possible drizzle. We hand wash
about half our dishes and we use a dish washer for the rest. We
do about 4-6 loads of laundry a week (front loader). My husband
and I take a shower about every other day. We have a 1/2 acre of
land (Orinda) but we do not water any of it. That's right...
NONE. We have a tangle of Oaks and brush and lots of hard-scape.
Actually we were joking about putting in a small loan because our
allocation was significantly raised recently due to the doubling
in family size with the birth of our twins. We won't do it, but
it's nice not feeling like we need to cut back much more than we
already have. Hope that helps.
we use what we need
I don't mean to come off like this, but yes, I think you use
too much water. We are a family of four and last year from
July to Sept we used 196 gal per day. This year over the same
time period (yes, I just got the bill), we used 106 gal per
day. My vote is for you trying harder.
conservation isn't that hard
The good news at our house is we are using half the water we used
last summer. The bad news is we were using ~600 gal/day last
summer. (!) So our current usage is 340 gal/day. We have 3
adults & 1 kid who take 3 showers/day, daily dishwasher (water
saver), daily washing machine (front loader). Our toilets are all
water savers. We water plants for only 5 min. three times a week
(last year, 12-15 min.) and supplement with graywater. We are
working on it!
Trying to conserve
Our last water bill said we used 120 gallon/day on average. Our
family is one adult, on 5 year old and one 18 month old. To cut
back we have been saving water in milk jugs when we run it
waiting for the water to get hot and then we use that to water
the plants. But with 2 little kids it's often hard to not have
water play on the hot days. We are only watering specific
plants and the grass has gone brown. We are out of the house to
work and school M-F so that by itself cuts back on water usage!
In the last year, we've used an average of 4 units per billing
period (with a rare 3, or sometimes 5). That works out to say
This is for a one bathroom household of two adults, and a small
garden. No dishwasher.
My guess is that our consumption is probably on the very low end.
You can do a few things, other than the obvious (low-flow
showerheads, low-flow toilet). Fix any and all leaks. Do this:
turn all taps off, and make sure nothing is drawing water. Then
go to your water meter and place a toothpick lined up with the
needle on the dial. Let about 30-60 min go by, and check to see
if the needle has moved.
Having teens at home adds quite a bit.
Install a pressure regulator to your main supply pipe. Where we
are, we get about 80 psi from EBMUD, which is about the max
pressure allowed. With the pressure regulator we are at about
Lay mulch on your yard. Weed control fabric also helps with
moisture retention. We give our yard a good soak once every 3
weeks, early in the morning. We grow tomatoes, grapes, roses, so
we are not suffering.
You can replace lawn with a groundcover. We love dymondia -- no
mowing, very soft (kids love it), spreads out, and very low water
requirements. If you have lawn, it will be hard to cut down.
Do full loads of laundry.
Turn off the water while you are brushing your teeth, or when you
are scrubbing dishes.
Check that your toilet tank does not leak slowly into the bowl
(the blue tablet test).
There is also the Dustin Hoffman school of thought in the movie
Meet the Fockers ('if it's yellow let it mellow; if it's brown
flush it down'), but that is probably a personal choice.
If you want to cut down indoors, think about the things you do
that make water go straight from the tap to the drain. Outside,
manage your yard watering carefully. Many of our friends easily
get to 300/day because they have these timers that water
regularly, but most water seeps into the ground and the frequent
watering promotes very shallow roots.
It is great that you are thinking about water usage. We found
many people here in Berkeley take it so much for granted. Take a
hint from EBMUD's new rate schedules -- under 100gal/day it's a
fixed rate, so maybe aim for that. They don't account for the
number of people, so you can adjust this for your case.
According to our bills, in the past few months (since the drought
was declared) we've used about 110-130 gal/day. One bill actually
said just 89 per day, but since EBMUD water meters only measure
full ''units'', not gallons, it probably didn't reflect the actual
daily use (but does average out over time).
We are a family of 3-4 (4 all summer with college kid home).
During this drought time, we have completely stopped landscape
irrigation - we pour collected water from the shower (while
waiting for hot water) and sink (collected while rinsing
vegetables, etc.) onto our drought-tolerant trees and perennials.
We all shower at home daily (teen son takes excessively long
showers; the rest of us try to keep it moderately short, but we
do leave the water running while soaping, etc.), wash laundry
when it's dirty (though we don't do sheets and towels as often as
some folks), and drink and cook with only tap water. We run our
dishwasher on most days, but use the ''top-only'' option if we
don't have a full load. I try to remember to put most things in
the dishwasher rather than more wasteful hand-washing. I never
pre-rinse the dishes since we don't have to (my husband sometimes
does; his mom trained him too well!). We have one old
water-wasting toilet, and a newer one that uses 1.6 gal/flush.
All of our faucets have low-flow aerators, and our washing
machine (front-loader) and dishwasher (Miele) use less water than
most. If my son could stop spacing out in the shower, we could
probably get down to 100, especially now that college kid is back
saving water for the fishies!
About 100 gallons per day for a family of two adults and two
kids in Berkeley.
Our family of 2 adults and 1 baby uses anywhere from 50-80
gallons a day total. This is probably lower than most households,
but we try to conserve as much as possible. My husband showers
every day because he needs to go in to work, I shower every
couple of days because I stay at home with the baby and don't
have to look great. The baby bathes every day but I use a small
tub and water the plants with the water. We catch all of the dish
water for the yard, have a front loader washing machine and do
all cycles on the quick setting, I trained my baby to pee/poop
into the toilet at 2 months old, we have a low flow toilet which
we rarely flush, a low flow shower head and I am exploring
putting an outdoor shower into the yard. We haven't set up a grey
water system although I know many who have, but this would also
help with watering the yard and reducing water usage. Its great
to reduce water usage even when it is not drought time if you
think about how precious a resource it is for many areas around
I, too, would love to see the answers to this one. We are a
family of 4 and some months use 350 gal. of water per day! We
have a large house, one teen, one pre-teen and a large yard, in
Berkeley. I try hard to get the family to conserve, but it's
always a struggle, although the increased rates for water hogs
are helping provide some incentive. You didn't say how many are
in your family, but still, 200 gal/day sounds very reasonable --
pat yourself on the back!
Anon and trying to do better
This is scary, 'cause we use 582 gallons/day. Compared to us
you're doing great. And we reduced our water consumption by 21%
compared to last year. I'm VERY curious to find out what others
You didn't mention the size of your family, which would have an
impact on the overall water usage. We are a family of 5, so our
usage per person is 116 gallons/day.
We are under 100 gallons/day. Family of 4.
140-150 gallons per day, which I find shocking. And yet I haven't
a way to
get below that.
small house, one bathroom
drought tolerant front yard
small lawn in the back
don't flush every time
save water from kitchen sink for outdoor plants (just carrying out
every night, or emptying our old water bottles outdoors.)
We're a family of two parents, toddler, and baby, and own a house
in Berkeley. Our water usage average for July to September was
190 gallons a day. We decreased a bit from last year, I think
mostly by watering our garden less frequently, though I also
changed how I wash hands and dishes and how often I flush the toilet.
Trying my best
You didn't give any details about the size of your
house/yard/family and thus it is hard to determine whether you
are a water hog or miser.
We are a family of four w/ one bathroom and an average backyard
which we water almost every day and the bill I got today read 74
gallons per day. This is considerably less than your daily
average... we do not flush the toilet every time we go to the
bathroom, we save the bathtub water for the plants, we try to
take a shower only every other day....
trying to live dry
We use just over 200 gallon/day for a family of 5 in a 2400
square feet house. I'm not sure why we use so much, since we
really try to conserve. We water the lawn in the back of the
house once a week or less, and don't water much in front of the
house (we just directly water some of the trees so they don't
die and leave everything else dry). We have a front-load
washer. The dishwasher probably isn't very efficient but we
can't afford to get a new one. We don't shower every day and
the kids don't bathe all that much. We don't flush if it's
yellow. I'm thinking we probably have a leak somewhere in the
plumbing, but haven't had the time/money to investigate.
I'm looking for something to attach to a water spigot on our property right off the
sidewalk, so people can't walk up to our house and help themselves to our water,
but that will still allow us (the homeowners) to access the spigot when we need to.
Now that news of water rationing is sounding more like a possibility around
Alameda County, my husband and I need to keep close tabs on our household water
Does such a thing exist, if so, what is it called, and where would I find a fixture like
this? Ordinarily I would attach one of those things that just closes off the spigot
semi-permanently but we do need to access our faucet.
Don't laugh, I'm not being paranoid. Already we've discovered that in recent months
that someone had siphoned gas on more than one occasion from my husband's car
when it was parked in our driveway (we've since then bought a locking gas cap for
his car). I've seen at least one person roaming our neighborhood filling a 5-gallon
jug of water from our neighbor's faucet on their property.
Boy, you know times are getting bad when...just be nice to your neighbors, OK?
Alameda County homeowner
I think you can get these at Ace or definitely at a plumbing supply and any
handy person can install it. Depending on your current shutoff you may be able
adapt what you have. It is a valve with a stem that requires a ''water key''.
you can just remove the handle from the existing stem and up a water key to
turn it on
and off. If not you may need to replace the existing valve. The water keys are
$4 and are readily available at Ace but people don't walk around with them in
pockets. At our elementary school, we use them so adults can water the gardens
kids can't have access to the water.
Aren't there spigots that have a keyed top, like you'd use a
wrench to operate it, or stick a metal thingie down into the top
where the knob would be on a regular spigot? You know, like the
kind of thing you'd have at your gas shut-off? I know I've seen
these in institutional settings, such as schools and parks. Maybe
a hardware store that caters to commercial contractors (Home
Depot?) would be able to help you out. Another alterntive would
be a locking box around the spigot. We have a metal box out by
our pool that has some circuit breakers nd timers in it. It is a
metal, weather-proof box, that has a place to put a physical lock
on it. You might be able to find some similar thing for a spigot.
Hi - I made a mistake and hired an unlicensed contractor to
remodel my bathroom (dumb I know!). After the ''remodel'', I
noticed that when I turn on the water from the tub spiget it is
dark for the first few seconds and then runs clear (it looks
rusty). This didn't happen before the remodel. What is this?
How big a problem is it. Is there a way to get the water tested
to make sure it's safe?
No More Unlicensed Contractors for Me!
Here are some possibilities:
Water testing: Call EBMUD. They can no doubt recommend a testing
perhaps give you a list. The UC Extension Service MAY be able to help.
It sounds like rust got knocked loose in an old galvanized pipe.
Or...even worse, the
Contractor installed rusty pipe. Do you have a way to check what was
done, or is it
hidden in the wall. You should have either copper or PVC. Galvanized
steel is no
The other possibility is that the new pipe was dirty inside, or was
properly after installation. It should have been disinfected and
flushed by the
I assume you do not have a well for your water source?
We had some of our old galvanized pipes replaced under the house
(including those that come out of the water heater). To our
dismay, instead of improving the water flow upstairs, the result
has been to DECREASE the water volume and seriously DISRUPT the
flow of hot water, for some reason. We know that the water
heater holds more than enough water for 3 long hot showers. Yet
suddenly after a couple of minutes in the first shower, the hot
water begins to turn luke-warm. The temperature on the water
heater is up and the first water to come out is hot, so that's
not the problem.
We thought it might be debris that was loosened when the pipes
were replaced, but we have flushed out the shower by taking off
the head with no improvement. Also, I don't see how debris would
account for the CHANGE in water temperature over a few minutes.
Can anyone shed light onto this mystery???
Also, would you think that the contractor who replaced the pipes
is responsible to fix the problem, which clearly arose after the
Miss My Old Good Shower
What you're describing isn't a water pressure problem, which is
what the new pipes could improve, but rather simply a problem of
not enough hot water.
Have you checked the thermostat setting on your hot water heater?
It sounds like it may be set low, and if that's the case, your
problem will be over once you turn it up. Setting it lower is a
way to conserve on the gas or electricity it's using, and also a
way to remind yourself just how much (expensive!) water you're using!
Might be unrelated. If there are white flakes in your faucet
aerators, it's a dip tube failure. Ours failed and it went on
forever, with cool showers in chilly weather, until large
chunks of white plastic clogged the hot water in our faucets
completely. We thought we had a pressure problem and called
EBMUD. They accurately diagnosed the problem and BPN-
recommended plumbers promptly returned our calls and we have
hot showers once again. Depending on the age of the water
heater, you either replace the dip tube or the water heater.
Good luck troubleshooting the problem.
Hot water once again
I would definitely have the contractor come back and look at
the work. Although this is a different story we had the pipe
outside of our house increased. We developed an awful water
hammer in our kitchen whenever we turned on the hot water.
After living w/ this for +2 years I had a plumber in for an
unrelated issue. I told him about the hammer and he reached
down, opened a valve and the problem went away. I can't
believe we lived w/ this for so long!!! So, have someone check
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