Why you should fix your leaking faucet

We’ll be the first to admit that in the grand scheme of things, a drop of water isn’t a lot of water. But the water that leaks from a drippy faucet can add up over time. The average drop of water is a mere 0.25 of a milliliter. In other words, it would take more than 15,000 drops added together to come up with a gallon of water.

But before you dismiss your leaking faucet as some other day’s problem, consider this. If your faucet drips once every five seconds, that’s twelve drops per minute. It’s also 720 drops every hour, and 17,280 drops per day. Which adds up to 6,307,200 drops per year. In the bigger picture, that’s more than 400 gallons of water that goes through your meter and right down your drain. If your faucet drips faster than that or you have multiple drippy faucets, you’re losing even more water.

To be fair, a “drop” of water isn’t uniform, so the precise amount of water your leaky faucet is releasing will vary. The US Geological Survey offers a drip calculator to estimate the cost of a broken faucet. Their calculator is also based on assumptions about the size of a drop of water, and the rate of the leak.

In the United States today, leaky plumbing accounts for about one-sixth of our water consumption. You read that correctly; one out of every six ounces of treated water goes down the drain, never having been used. While water is a “renewable” resource – every trip it makes through your meter costs money! A lost drop here or there isn’t enough to impact your water bill, but 400+ gallons per year certainly is.

Replacing a leaking faucet is easy

There is no way to overstate the importance of clean water. As our population grows and our infrastructure ages, it becomes more expensive to treat and deliver healthy, safe and clean drinking water. By repairing or replacing dripping faucets, you can not only reduce your water consumption (and your water bill), but also ease the burden of treating and delivering clean water in our area.

If you have a lot of dripping faucets in your home, you may be experiencing an over-pressure issue. The municipal water supply operates at a certain pressure to ensure that everyone always gets all of the water they need. That pressure is generally too high for residential plumbing. Over time, this high-pressure condition can deteriorate the water valves in your system. As the valves deteriorate, leaks develop. It is possible to reduce the pressure inside your home by adding a special regulator to your pipes. The regulator will throttle back the municipal water pressure to better match the capabilities of your plumbing fixtures. Over time, this can reduce the wear on your plumbing fixtures and delay or eliminate the development of leaks.

If you’d like help with fixing a leaking faucet or reducing the water pressure in your home, please give us a call at Boston Standard Company at (617) 288-2911. We’ll be happy to set up an appointment.

Photo Credit: Denise Rowlands, via Flickr

Thawing frozen pipes

Like just about everything else, there’s a right way and a wrong way to thaw frozen pipes. Here are a few tips to keep your pipes from freezing in the first place. We also have some advice for thawing a pipe that’s already frozen.

Keep your pipes from freezing

The best way to deal with frozen pipes is to avoid them altogether. Heating your home can be expensive, and it’s tempting to “dial down” at night and when you’re not around. When the air temperature is super-cold (below freezing), your pipes can be at risk.

Pipes break when the water inside them freezes. Most plumbing is rigid, so the pipes are full of standing water when the taps are closed. This is good because a pipe that’s full of water doesn’t have any air. Air in the system could allow bacteria to thrive, and it could also change the water pressure.

Unfortunately, water expands when it freezes. In an open container, the freezing water has “head space” – room to expand. In a water pipe, there is no room for expansion. An ice blockage forms somewhere in your pipe and begins to exert enormous pressure – as high as 2,000 PSI – on the unfrozen water between the blockage and the tap. Traditional plumbing does not have enough material strength to hold back this unrelenting pressure. As the blockage grows, the pressure increases. Because the pipe is rigid, it cannot expand enough, and it will deform and split somewhere to relieve the pressure.

The first thing you can do to avoid frozen pipes is to keep your pipes warm! Insulate them to prevent cold air intrusions from affecting your pipes. Open sink cabinet and vanity doors to allow warmer air to circulate around your pipes. Open heat registers in the basement (if your pipes are below-grade) to let more warm air circulate around them.

Don’t turn the heat down when it’s super-cold outside. Yes, your utility bill will go up, but a higher heating bill beats flooding, water damage and mold.

Managing a frozen pipe

If a pipe freezes and it’s accessible, open the tap immediately to drain any water from the pipe. This may relieve some of the pressure, but you’re not out of the woods yet. Start warming the pipe from the tap and work your way toward the blockage. A good safe heat source is an incandescent light bulb. A hair dryer may also help loosen up a frozen pipe. Be especially careful if you use “heat tape.” Used incorrectly, it can cause a fire!

DO NOT USE AN OPEN FLAME TO THAW A FROZEN PIPE! That includes welding and soldering torches, cigarette lighters, charcoal lighters, tiki torches, candles or anything else fiery. Open flames caused 30% of house fires in 2017. It’s just not a good idea!

You may not initially know that a pipe has frozen, but lack of water should set off alarm bells! If you get no water from a tap, or a water appliance stops working, If you open a tap and get just a trickle of water – your pipe is in the process of freezing. Act fast to relieve the pressure and correct the problem.

On the other hand, you may know your pipe has frozen because it has already split and there’s water everywhere! In this case, turn off the water to that segment of pipe and begin the process of thawing. Start drying out anything that’s gotten wet. You may have to remove drywall, plaster, carpeting or flooring. You won’t be able to turn the water back on until the pipe is repaired, but at least you can limit the water damage.

Following up on a frozen pipe

Maybe you were able to get your pipe thawed out before it split. That’s a lucky break, but your pipe is probably still damaged. The pressure can weaken and deform your pipe – and maybe not in the place(s) you’d expect. Remember, 2,000 PSI is about 20 times the pressure your pipes are designed to handle.

Inspect your pipes for deformed joints, bulges, discolorations, little drips or anything generally weird-looking. Formerly frozen pipes that “burst” usually have a little slit someplace, often somewhere other than where the blockage formed. It will look like someone took a box cutter and made a slice in the pipe. (You’ll be able to find these more easily, because water will be spraying all over the place!)

Don’t forget to check any PEX hoses that supply water to toilets, sinks and appliances. These can freeze too! PEX resists freezing, but the fittings can get damaged. If you find a frozen PEX hose, take comfort in the fact that they’re cheap to replace.

If you’ve experienced a frozen pipe, or need help repairing freeze-damaged plumbing, contact us at Boston Standard Company at (617) 288-2911. We’ll be happy to help!

Photo Credit: Cynthia Closkey, via Flickr

When Should You Call A Plumber?

Indoor plumbing is possibly the most influential invention of the modern world, and most of the time, it just works. But your plumbing does require maintenance at times. Many people don’t recognize the signs of a developing plumbing problem and get caught off guard by an unexpected repair. Here are a few trouble signs to look for.

Three reasons to call a plumber

Low water pressure. Low water pressure is a sign that something’s wrong with your water supply. Usually, “city water” arrives at your home under a lot of pressure. Municipal systems need higher pressure to ensure that the water get all the way to everyone’s taps. This means – if anything – that your water pressure should be on the high side.

When your water pressure is low, that’s a sign of trouble. If a nearby municipal supply line breaks, it will affect your water pressure. Contact your local water authority for further directions. The utility may instruct you to turn off your home’s main water valve while they’re repairing the break. Additionally, they may instruct you to boil drinking water to kill any harmful organisms that may have invaded the system. They may also ask you to open all of your taps once they’ve resolved the break to flush the lines.

If the municipal supply lines aren’t broken, then the trouble is in your pipes. Mineralization and corrosion inside your pipes and plumbing fixtures can reduce the overall flow of water to your taps. This is usually a condition that develops over a long period of time. Initially, you might not notice pressure or flow problems at all. If pressure problems affect only one particular tap, simply replace the affected fixture with a new one.

If all taps exhibit low pressure, you could have a major leak or your pipes could be corroding inside. Corrosion and mineral buildup reduce the diameter of the pipe and restrict water flow. These conditions can eventually completely seal a pipe. Mineral deposits can be dissolved, but corrosion is permanent damage, so you should replace the affected pipe.

Drain problems

Drains are a critical part of your plumbing system. A malfunctioning drain can pose a serious health and safety risk. Drains can clog for a number of reasons. Bacteria and organic films grow in your drains. As they accumulate, they can catch hair and other debris. Add a steady flow of soap residue, and you have the makings of a great clog. Chemical drain cleaners may dissolve a clog, but they can also damage your pipes. You can mechanically snake out the drain to remove the clog, or you can use enzymatic drain cleaners. Enzymatic drain cleaners literally eat the clog and clear the drain. You could also perform periodic drain maintenance by dumping a cup of baking soda down your drain, followed by a cup of vinegar. This combination will kill the organic growth in the drain and help keep it flowing freely.

Clogs aren’t the only problem you can encounter with a drain. Leaks (which are always bad), mineralization and corrosion can also slow or stop drains. In addition, chemicals you dispose of down the drain can damage them, and drains can also freeze. Breaks in your main drain can also cause sewage backups and spills, which are never pleasant. Powdered detergents can also reconstitute in drains, causing partial or complete blockages.

Most homeowners are well equipped to deal with a run-of-the-mill clog. Larger drain problems – like leaks, breaks, and non-organic blockages may require more tools and expertise to address!

Wet spots, peeling paint, buckling floors=plumbing leak

Plumbing leaks can occur anywhere, but they’re not always easy to find. Often the first sign of a leak is a water spot that appears on a wall, floor or ceiling. Leaks can be slow and steady, or they can cause floods. Leaking toilets can damage the surrounding floor. You may not notice this until the tile or floor covering gives way. Leaking fixtures in the shower or behind the wall can also cause a steady stream of water to escape. Over time, this water can promote mold growth and rot on walls and floors. Addressing the leak is Job #1. Once you’ve identified the leak and repaired it, cleaning up the damage comes next.

Leaks can be DIY repairs, depending on what’s actually leaking. If you have copper plumbing but you have no experience with soldering, you may want to call a plumber. The fire danger here is very real. The National Fire Prevention Association says that plumbing torches are one of the top ten causes of residential fires every year. In fact, nearly 30% of residential fires between 2010 and 2014 in the United States involved torches. About half of those fires started in the bathroom! Licensed plumbers are trained to solder in tight spaces. We also carry insurance that will protect you and your home from unnecessary risks.

If you’re experiencing any plumbing problems, we’re here to help. Call us at Boston Standard Company at (617) 288-2911. We’ll be happy to diagnose and repair your plumbing problems!

Photo Credit: IndyDina with Mr. Wonderful, via Flickr

Thinking About Water Week April 12-18, 2015

Thinking About Water Week April 12-18, 2015

Thinking About Water Week April 12-18, 2015

Something interesting is happening in Washington, D.C., this week. April 12-18, 2015 has been designated Water Week. During Water Week, water and wastewater professionals from around the US gather to develop, consider and advocate for national policies that support safe, clean water for everyone in ways that also protect the environment.

Something interesting is also happening in northwestern Massachusetts. That area, which includes places like Adams and North Adams, Greenfield, Winchendon and Ashburnham was declared “abnormally dry” last week (April 7). That’s interesting because just one week earlier (March 31), only Adams and North Adams were considered to be “abnormally dry.” Two weeks ago, only North Adams was considered “abnormally dry” and as recently as St. Patrick’s Day, no portion of Massachusetts was experiencing any drought conditions. “Abnormally dry” is the mildest drought classification.

The abnormally dry conditions aren’t reserved for northwestern Massachusetts. Worcester – barely an hour’s drive from Boston – is the first major city in the state to have been declared “abnormally dry” this year. Drought conditions, which have grabbed the headlines in California in the past two weeks, can affect us locally, too. Prolonged drought conditions increase both the likelihood of wildfires, and the magnify the damage they can do.

Conserving treated water is one of the single most effective things we can do to improve our environment. The good news is that water conservation can be done very locally. Preserving and supporting our water table starts with making sure rainwater runoff can be returned to the ground effectively. That can be hard to do in population-dense cities like Boston, where much of the land surface is paved.

If you own property in Boston, you can start by building a rain garden – a place that can safely return rainwater runoff from your roof to the ground. Rain gardens can be decorative as well as functional, and can support a wide range of perennial and annual plants that don’t mind getting soggy. You can also install an underground cistern to capture and store rainwater runoff for use on your lawns and gardens. Cisterns can also be used to filter rainwater and return it slowly to the local water table.

If you don’t want to go that far, you can also store rainwater runoff from your roof in rain barrels, which you can use to water lawns and gardens during drier weather. When you capture and use rainwater, you can reduce your own water consumption, save money on your water bill, and more importantly, save treated water for those uses that actually require clean, drinkable water.

As always, check your water fixtures regularly for signs of leaking, and repair or replace faucets, hoses, connectors and pipes that don’t pass muster. If you would like more information about water collection, or capturing and reusing rainwater for lawn or garden maintenance, please contact us at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911. We can also help you abate problems caused by overly damp or overly dry conditions inside of your home.

Photo Credit: emmalemma, via FreeImages.com

Fix A Leak Week: Is Your Home Under Water?

Fix A Leak Week: Is Your Home Under Water?

Fix A Leak Week: Is Your Home Under Water?

This week is designated as “Fix a Leak Week” and is a good reminder to check your household fixtures for plumbing leaks. With this winter having been a hard one, a really good place to start your inspection is, of course, your outside spigots and lawn irrigation lines. If you didn’t remember to close and drain your hose connections, you could be looking at cracked or broken valves and water lines. Any major leak of this type is one you’ll want to fix immediately, because as the weather warms, you’ll run an increased risk of mold growth in indoor areas, and loss of performance and other damage in outdoor systems.

According to the EPA, water leaks in the average American household can waste more than 10,000 gallons of water each year. Nationally, the agency estimates that leaks consume more than a trillion gallons of water annually. That’s enough water to serve 11 million households. If you think this number sounds high, keep in mind that 10 percent of homes that have water leaks waste more than 90 gallons each day.

Sometimes it can be tough to confirm that you have a water leak. Dripping faucets and leaking connections are easy to see, but other fixtures like your toilets, showers and appliances may hide evidence of their sneaky water consumption. Use your water meter during a short period – say 2 hours – of “water inactivity” in your home to help you determine whether or not your fixtures are secretly consuming water.

You can test toilets for leaks by putting some food coloring in the toilet tank. If the colored water in the tank shows up in the bowl within 15 minutes, your toilet is leaking water. Most often, leaks from the toilet come from a failed or failing flapper valve. Alternately, the tank can fill too much when the toilet is flushed. If you dye your tank water and no colored water shows up in the tank within the test period, flush the toilet to clear out the colored water.

If your toilet doesn’t pass the colored water test, change the flapper valve at the bottom of the tank. This is very easy to do, and it’s a simple, cheap repair. If your toilet tank overfills, you can adjust the refill shut-off point by adjusting the refill valve. Usually, the optimal fill point is marked on the overflow tube in the tank. Try to adjust the refill to shut off at or near this point.

Dripping showers, faucets and connections are also signs of water leaks. Sometimes, simply tightening the connections around these fixtures can eliminate drips, but be careful not to overtighten the connections. Mineralization and debris from the water system can foul valves, making them difficult to close completely. Sometimes, just taking the valve apart and cleaning it or using Teflon tape around the connections can restore proper, drip-free operation.

If that doesn’t eliminate the drip in your faucet, you may need to replace a washer or ceramic disk. In some sealed faucets, these may not be replaceable. In this case, you’ll replace the entire faucet instead.

Outdoor irrigation systems can be a source of significant water waste. Even a very small leak or crack in an irrigation system hose can waste more than 6,000 gallons of water per month. It pays to inspect your outdoor watering system (or have a professional inspect it) every year before you begin outdoor watering.

If you have a major break in your water line or you know that you have a leak but just can’t find it, please contact us at Boston Standard Plumbing and Heating for immediate repair services. We offer true 24/7 emergency assistance for all of your plumbing, heating and cooling needs. Call us at (617) 288-2911 anytime. Don’t forget to like Boston Standard Plumbing on Facebook, and enjoy a leak-free summer!

Photo Credit: budgetstoc

Outdoor Faucets: The One Thing You Should Never Forget To Do In Winter

Outdoor Faucets: The One Thing You Should Never Forget To Do In Winter

Outdoor Faucets: The One Thing You Should Never Forget To Do In Winter

If you own a home, chances are pretty good that you have at least one outdoor faucet. With outdoor faucets, it’s exceptionally important to remember to detach your garden hoses at the end of the season, close the inside shut-off valve(s) and drain the faucet fixture before it freezes.

Water expands when it freezes, and nothing changes that. How much does frozen water expand? Ice takes up nearly 10% more space than the same amount of liquid water does. Unfortunately, in the case of a water pipe, the pipe is already full when water is in a liquid state, so there’s no room for expansion if the temperature drops low enough for the water to freeze. Once the water in the pipe freezes, something’s got to give, and it’s usually the pipe itself, the valves, the joints or maybe even all three.

An outdoor water faucet is especially vulnerable to the cold, so it’s extremely important to prep your water faucets for the winter. The heat from your home that is transmitted through the pipes most likely won’t be enough to protect your outdoor faucet. Here’s what you can do to help prevent a watery disaster from striking in the middle of winter!

Close the shut-off valve for the faucet

From the inside of your home or building, close the shut-off valve that controls the flow of water to the outdoor faucet(s). If the valve isn’t set back from the outer wall of your home, an accidental freeze can damage your shut-off valve, making it impossible to stop the flow of water. If your shut-offs are very close to the outer wall of your home, consider moving them back farther into your home to better protect them from freezing.

Disconnect your hoses!

Leaving a frozen, water-filled hose attached to the outdoor faucet is asking for trouble! Disconnect your garden hoses, drain them and hang them up for the winter. Your hoses will last longer, be better protected from the elements, and will be less likely to leak at the connectors. They’ll also be less likely to develop splits that will leak when the hose is pressurized.

Drain the faucet

Finally, open the faucet and let any residual water drain out of the pipe. Draining the outside faucet is critical, because standing water between the inside shut-off valve and the outdoor faucet can freeze and break both the fixture and shut-off valve. Creating an air space within the short segment of pipe gives any residual water room to expand if it freezes.

If you’re not sure what to do, check out this short video, where we show you how to winterize your outdoor faucets:

Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating – How to Winterize Your Outdoor Faucet

As an added measure of safety, insulate your pipes. Pipe insulation is inexpensive and can help protect your plumbing and valves from extreme temperature variations. Seal any open spaces, gaps or foundations cracks that can allow cold air to circulate around your pipes. Close all basement windows and foundation vents in the winter to prevent cold outside air from reducing the ambient temperature in unheated crawl spaces and basements.

Finally, be aware that sometimes pipes and fixtures that have frozen and thawed don’t start to leak until full water pressure is re-applied. In the spring, check your outdoor fixtures for leaks, even if you have taken steps to protect them from winter ice damage.

If you have a frost-damaged outdoor fixture, or need new shut-off valves installed for your outdoor faucets, please give us a call at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911. We can replace broken and leaking fixtures, move shut-off valves and help winterize outdoor plumbing.
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Photo Credit: StormRose, via StockXchng

3 Things To Do When A Water Main Breaks

3 Things To Do When A Water Main Breaks

3 Things To Do When A Water Main Breaks

Last week, thanks to some unfortunate work by a contractor, some City residents were treated to an unusual site: a city main shooting water four stories into the air. Construction is certainly nothing new in Boston. Water main breaks are also common, but they’re usually a little more ordinary! So much so, in fact, that residents may not be aware of water main breaks that occur in their neighborhoods during the day or in the overnight hours.

The first sign of trouble from a broken water main is the appearance of sludge, silt, rust and debris in a home’s water lines. When this happens, homeowners are often unsure what to do, especially when they can’t find outward signs of plumbing damage in their homes.

Flush the pipes following a water main break

The easiest way to flush a home’s plumbing lines is to open a large tap while all other taps remain closed. The bathtub(s) in a home are ideal for this task. Open the cold water valve in the bathtub. Listen for hissing and spitting, a sign that air remains in the line. Run the water until it is clear, and no additional air bubbles are released.

The bathtub’s tap provides the ideal solution for water main-induced problems. The tub faucet is much larger than those that serve the sinks, so it can discharge debris particles in the water line without getting clogged. Debris clogs in lines with smaller faucets can cause problems that require expensive repairs. Debris can clog water lines to other fixtures like toilets and sinks, as well as to appliances, boilers and water heaters.

Occasionally, a piece of debris is the system is large enough to close off a water supply pipe completely. If you have no water at all, contact the Water and Sewer Commission to see whether they’ve shut off the water to your home as part of the repair process. If they believe the water is on, you may need to contact a plumber to help you locate and remove the blockage.

Check your insurance for water main break coverage

It’s also important to note that the City won’t pay to repair damage to a homeowner’s plumbing system, even if the damage occurred as a direct result of the water main break. Homeowners must repair damage and replace appliances themselves, and often, homeowner’s insurance won’t cover “clean water” damage unless you have a special policy rider. Check your current policy for this type of coverage now, and take action if your policy won’t pay for water main break damage.

Install a water main filtration system

One of the best ways to keep foreign debris out of your home’s plumbing system is to install a water main filtration system. This addition will help reduce sediment, sand and rust that comes from the municipal water supply. By keeping these contaminants out of your home’s plumbing, you can improve the water quality in your home and reduce the incidence of damage caused by these free-floating hazards.

If you would like more information about a water main filtration system for your home, please contact us at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911. We’d be happy to recommend and install a whole-house filtration system that will help keep your home’s water fresh and your plumbing and appliances safe from accidental damage.

Photo Credit: tijmen, via StockXChng

3 tips to find and eliminate plumbing leaks

3 tips to find and eliminate plumbing leaks

3 tips to find and eliminate plumbing leaks

You may not realize that you have a plumbing leak until you receive an unusually high water bill. When you think of plumbing leaks, you think of the unexpected flood that deposits a lot of water on your floor or damages your walls. In reality, a lot of plumbing leaks aren’t actually detected by the homeowner. Sometimes, you can determine whether a leak is present, but finding the damage might require more detective work!

Finding a plumbing leak. Plumbing leaks can be stealthy. One good way to determine whether you have a leak is to turn off all of the supply-side water valves in your home. You should have a supply-side shutoff valve at each water-using fixture. It’s good to test these valves once in awhile anyway, so this exercise may help you kill two birds with one stone. Once all of the fixture valves have been closed, check the water meter. If the meter is still running, you may have a leak. During this test, if you find a shut-off valve that is stuck or broken, replace it.

If you do find that your system is still drawing water, you’ll need test each segment of the system to find out which one is affected. This can be time-consuming, but it’s the best way to locate the source of a leak.

Testing your water pressure. Don’t skip this step in the hunt for leaks! You need to know what the water pressure is in your system. Here’s why:

The municipality needs to pump water at a high pressure to ensure that water is delivered correctly and safely to homes and businesses. Often, however, the pressure in the municipal supply is about three to four times higher than what residential systems are designed to operate at! Residential plumbing components aren’t designed to take high pressure for long periods of time, and will wear out early and often! Once a component begins to fail, a leak is the natural result.

You can buy an inexpensive in-line water pressure gauge at your local hardware store that can measure the water pressure at a faucet. If your water pressure is significantly higher than 55 PSI, a regulating valve located near the meter will help ensure that your system maintains a correct and safe water pressure. These regulating valves are adjustable, so if you find that 55 PSI doesn’t meet your needs, you can turn the pressure up.

Check your appliances. Don’t automatically assume that the valves in your water-using appliances are in good working order. They’re under the same pressure that the rest of your system is. Check the valves of your laundry, refrigeration and dishwashing equipment regularly for leaks and deterioration around the seals. Inspect the hoses and replace them every five years. These valves and hoses are inexpensive and are readily available from appliance repair stores.

If you need help with locating a leak in your plumbing, testing your water pressure or installing a regulating valve on your plumbing system, please contact us at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911. We’ll be happy to test your system, locate hidden leaks and help you protect your water-using appliances.

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Photo Credit: LaDeon, via StockXchng

Boston Standard Helps Turn On The Water At The Berkeley Community Garden

Boston Standard Helps Turn On The Water At The Berkeley Community Garden

Boston Standard Helps Turn On The Water At The Berkeley Community Garden

The Berkeley Community Garden (BCG) at the corner of East Berkeley and Tremont in Boston’s South End provides gardening space during the summer months for seniors and low-income families in the area. In mid-March, the plumbing system for the gardens was vandalized. Thieves stole 21 of 22 watering stations, most likely for their scrap value. The stolen fittings didn’t contain much copper, but their loss meant that the garden would not have a working watering system.

Vandalized watering stations at the Berkeley Community Garden. Photo: John McLachlan

Vandalized watering stations at the Berkeley Community Garden. Photo: John McLachlan

The thefts were covered well in the Boston media and we at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating saw an opportunity to help! We reached out to Ann McQueen, who sits on the Board of Directors of the Boston Natural Areas Network, which the Berkeley Community Garden is part of. Ann let us know that the water lines in the garden would need to be replaced to return the garden to operating condition for the spring.

Once we knew what had to be done, we turned to Tom Blades at FW Webb, Boston’s largest heating, cooling and plumbing supplier, and they donated the materials we needed to repair the vandalism to the BCG’s water lines. We installed new pipe and watering stations, and the garden was back in business! Or so we thought…

BCG gardeners ready to get to work! Photo: Jeremy Dick, BNAN

BCG gardeners ready to get to work! Photo: Jeremy Dick, BNAN

The weekend after we installed the new taps, the thieves returned and removed eight stations from the garden. Because the BCG is such a valuable community resource, we have requested a meeting with the Plumbing Board to seek a variance to use plastic piping in the garden, to make the water lines unattractive to thieves and to preserve the BCG as a great local resource.

We’ve posted items about copper theft in Boston the past, but copper remains a very attractive target for thieves. As plumbing, heating and cooling professionals, we’ve seen many copper installations – both commercial and residential – that have been vandalized by scrap metal thieves. It’s natural for thieves to target unoccupied homes and buildings looking for copper, but we’ve also heard reports of thieves stealing the plumbing out of occupied homes!

We’ll keep the blog updated on our request to the Plumbing Board, and on the state of repairs at the Boston Community Garden.

If you need help getting your outdoor plumbing ready for the summer, please give us a call at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911, and we’ll be happy to help you get your own garden in order! Visit us online, and like Boston Standard Plumbing on Facebook!

Photo Credits: Jeremy Dick, Boston Natural Areas Network , John McLachlan, Craig Dietrich, via Flickr

World Plumbing Day: A Time To Think

World Plumbing Day: A Time To Think

World Plumbing Day: A Time To Think

World Plumbing Day – March 11 – is just about a month away, and although it may seem like an odd celebration, it offers us an opportunity to think about something we don’t usually spend a lot of time on: clean water and sanitation. In Boston, plumbing is something we take for granted. Every house has it; every commercial building has it. But there are a lot of places in the world where clean water and sanitation aren’t readily available.

More than 3 million people each year die as the result of preventable diseases and conditions related to inferior water quality and poor sanitation. The majority of deaths occur in children under five years of age. By itself, that’s a lot to think about – especially when you consider that you can go to just about any tap that’s connected to a municipal water supply, and get safe, clean, drinkable water from it 24/7/365, year after year in this country.

Despite our access to clean water and sanitation, water-borne illnesses can still affect us. Relatively recent outbreaks of the SARS virus and Legionnaires’ Disease come to mind as proof that improper plumbing and air-handling can serve as a breeding ground for major threats to public health.

Aside from thinking about the role of clean water and sanitation, it’s also good to think about the role that plumbers play in modern society. Plumbing may not seem like a glamorous job, and it’s not. But according to the World Health Organization, competent plumbers are responsible for a lot:

  • Installing and maintaining safe water distribution and sanitation systems
  • Managing the risks associated with plumbing and sanitation systems
  • Water conservation
  • Plumbing is a trade, but it’s one that evolves over time. In some cases, modern plumbing codes are responses to changes in the way people live, the applications of new technologies and materials, and our impact on the areas in which we live. In other cases, plumbing codes are the products of the knowledge and experience plumbers gain when they handle both clean and dirty water. In still other cases, our plumbing reflects what we’ve learned about diseases, and how they spread in urban areas.

    So, as World Plumbing Day approaches, spend some time thinking about the role of clean water and sanitation, and how much of a difference it makes in the lives of the 7 billion people we share our planet with.

    If you have any questions or concerns about your plumbing, heating or cooling systems, contact us at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911 anytime. We’re always available to help! Friend Boston Standard Plumbing on Facebook and don’t forget to celebrate World Plumbing Day on March 11.

    Photo Credit: Julien Harneis, via Flickr