Despite recent wet weather, parts of the Anglian region have been officially in a state of drought since early in the month. Areas in the South West, South East, and Midlands are experiencing near-drought conditions following the driest spring on record in South East and Central Southern England, and the driest right across England and Wales since 1990.
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said: “Drought has hit parts of East Anglia, with other areas in England and Wales also giving grounds for concern. Water companies are confident that supplies are high enough so that widespread restrictions to the public are unlikely. We’re doing all we can to reduce the impact on agriculture and wildlife, but everyone can play their part.
“Households know how to use less water and everyone can do their bit to use water more wisely, not only through the summer, but throughout the year.”
Although some areas across the country have benefited from recent rainfall, this has done little to improve the situation in the driest areas. It is important to follow some of these simple tips to conserve water:
- Check your plumbing and drains for leaks
- Turn off your tap when you are brushing your teeth
- Take showers rather than baths
- Repair any dripping taps
- Only use what water you need when filling the kettle to make tea or coffee
- Only use the washing machine when you can put a full load into it
- Keep water in the fridge to chill so that you don’t need to run the tap to get cool water each time
- Place a brick or a ‘hippo’ in the toilet cistern to reduce the amount of water flushed
- Use a shut-off nozzle on your hose pipe if you are using it in the garden or to wash the car
- Use a mulch on beds and vegetable plots to retain moisture in the soil to reduce the amount of watering
- Use a water butt to collect rainwater to use on the garden
Image via Wikipedia
Recent news stories about lead in New York tap water prompted me to write this article for the blog about the situation with lead in water supplies in the UK.
Lead is a poison. Those at particular risk are infants and children because lead can have an adverse impact on mental development.
The use of lead pipes in plumbing has been illegal in the UK since 1970s and the use of lead-based solder for joining pipes is also against the law. However, older properties may still have lead plumbing in the house or, even more likely, in the underground pipework connecting the property to the mains.
The UK Drinking Water Inspectorate publishes advice for householders on lead in water. It suggests that if you are concerned about the possibility that lead is used in the plumbing in your home you should get a qualified plumber to check your piping.
Your local Drain Doctor will be happy to take a look for you – call 0800 358 68 98 or visit the website.
If you do have lead pipes you can get your water company to check if there is lead in the water coming from your taps. As a precaution until you can get lead pipes replaced, you should run the tap for 30 seconds or so before using water for drinking or cooking. Water ‘standing’ in pipes for a long period has an opportunity to absorb lead – water running swiftly through the pipes has little chance to do so and is therefore much less likely to be contaminated.
We talked on the blog a while ago about the way water enters your home and how it leaves. Continuing this occasional series, let’s take a look at what happens to the water while it is in your home – starting with the hot water system.
There are two types of hot water supply.
All the hot taps may be supplied from a hot water storage cylinder that is fed from the cold water cistern and heated by a boiler or immersion heater.
Alternatively, hot taps may be supplied from a gas water heater or a cistern type electric heater connected to the rising main. This is normally used when all the water is supplied directly from the rising main.
Water heating circuit
In a typical modern house with a central heating boiler there are two types of hot water circuit through the hot water tank – the primary circuit that heats the water and the secondary circuit that takes it to the hot water taps and radiators.
The hot water heating circuit is supplied by a small feed and expansion cistern (usually situated in the roof space) that is supplied via the rising main. A feed pipe goes from the expansion cistern to the hot water cylinder and then to the boiler. When the boiler is heated the water in it expands as it gets hotter and becomes lighter than the cold water entering the boiler. The hot water therefore rises out of the boiler along another pipe known as the flow pipe. A branch of the flow pipe enters the boiler. The rest of the pipe is left open ended over the expansion cistern to allow air bubbles to escape.
The part of the flow pipe that enters the boiler does not discharge water. It continues through the boiler as a sealed coil which imparts heat to the cold water stored in the cylinder.
By the time this water has been through the cylinder it has cooled. It joins the cold water feed from the expansion cistern and is returned to the boiler where the heating cycle begins again. Hot water is constantly circulated while the boiler is heated.
Sounds complicated? Not really. But if you have a problem with your hot water supply it is best to call Drain Doctor rather than try DIY repairs – especially if they involve doing anything with gas or electric heating systems.
A student has come up with an ingenious idea (see http://www.dailytech.com/Student+Invention+Uses+Plumbing+to+Generate+Electricity/article19142.htm) to generate electricity using the power of the water that is going down your drains.
I’m not sure if the idea will ever catch on – but if it does, I bet Drain Doctor will be on hand to fix it when it breaks!
Trust Drain Doctor to solve any plumbing problems.
We looked, in a recent post on this blog, about how the water gets into your home. Continuing our occasional series on your water and plumbing systems, it is time to take a look at how water (and the things you add to it) leave your home.
Depending on the age of your home waste water is probably carried away from your house using one of two systems:
a) A soil-and-vent pipe and waste pipe combination that carries waste from the upstairs lavatories and from sinks, baths and showers separately.
b) A single stack pipe drainage system. Waste from all the sinks and lavatories is carried underground by a single soil and vent pipe.
Whatever the system, all the sinks and lavatories in the house have traps which hold enough water to prevent gases escaping back into the house to cause nasty smells. Traps in sinks also provide a means of access to clear blockages in the waste system.
Below ground, the household waste pipes are channelled through inspection chambers near the house to form the main drain, which then runs into the water company’s sewer.
As a householder, you are generally responsible for all the drains and waste pipes on your property. In later posts we will look at things you can do to prevent problems.
Trust Drain Doctor to solve any plumbing problems.
Continuing our series about the plumbing in your home – and how to look after it – it’s time to consider where the water goes when it gets into your home.
British homes have one of two types of cold water supply – direct and indirect.
A direct supply means that all the cold water taps and toilets in the house are supplied with water directly from the rising main. This is also known as a high pressure system.
With an indirect system usually only the cold water tap over the kitchen sink (and possibly the water feed to the washing machine) are attached to the rising main. The rising main goes straight up to discharge water into the cold-water storage cistern, normally located in the roof space. This cistern has pipes that supply water to the cold taps in the bathroom, the lavatory cisterns and the hot water system via gravity. This is known as a low pressure system.
It has an overflow pipe to carry excess water out of the house in case the cistern over fills or the ball valve fails. The overflow normally emerges from the side of the house at around roof level – so if you see water gushing (or even dripping) from a pipe somewhere up high on the building, it almost certainly means the cistern is overflowing. It will not do any damage but you need to get it fixed. Give Drain Doctor a call and we will investigate to find out what the problem is and give you a quote for fixing it.
The capacity of the average domestic cold water cistern is around 230 litres (50 gallons). That is a lot of water so call Drain Doctor if you think that the overflow pipe has become blocked or damaged. If the water comes through your ceiling, instead of going through the overflow pipe, you will have a serious flood!