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Thu, Feb. 27

Low-flow faucets, fixtures improving, changing

More and more faucets are meeting the EPA's Watersense requirement of 1.5 gallons per minute, which is 32 percent less than the industry standard. The washerless valves are boosting reliability and with the new touch technology on the market, in some cases you no longer need to turn a faucet handle to get water. We often hear about the water saved due to the use of low-flow faucets and fixtures. The EPA estimates that newer toilets with the Watersense label will use 60 percent less water than the older 3.5 to 7 gallon toilets and just when we thought that water consumption for toilets could not go any lower, American Standard has a toilet that uses 1 gallon per flush and then there is the smart toilet that has an integrated sink - which looks really "rad." As the toilet refills after flushing, fresh water filters out of the integrated sink faucet on top of the toilet before filling the tank. Are we ready to warm to that technology yet?

Q: We were told that sensor-activated faucets save water. Is this true?-Ed, Chino Valley

A: So far there is only a small amount of data available on sensor-activated faucets and the majority of data is reading "lukewarm." Most of the data collected has come from public settings so there is no true reading on what might happen and the effects in a home. The water savings comes from programming the amount of water that is released along with a programmed time flow of water stream. I would say that human behavior in the home is prone to more of the serious hand powered-type of washing and the control is in our hands.

Did you know that one faucet leaking 60 drips per minute for a year can waste 2,082 gallons of water per year? That is enough for 42 baths.

Faucet aerators are a simple technology that can reduce water waste by up to 50 percent.

Q: We recently moved to Prescott from Oregon, where we had wonderful drinking water. I have noticed that we have build-up on our faucets and in our toilets already and how can this be controlled?-Ed and Wendy, Prescott

A: Our area has hard water that is extremely high in mineral content which creates the build-up of lime deposits, the white crusty substance. Removing this deposit is not difficult and can readily be removed with a household product that we all have on hand - white vinegar. Vinegar has acetic acid which is great at breaking down the lime scale. You can soak a towel with the vinegar, wrap the towel around the faucet and let it soak the affected area for an hour or so. Wipe the area dry and then apply a baking soda paste, mixing 3 parts of baking soda to one part water and cover the mineral deposits. This paste should soak for an hour, then rinse, dry and you should have a sparking scale-free faucet. You can perform the same process with the toilet bowl by spraying vinegar around the toilet bowl walls, letting stand for 30 minutes. Scrub the bowl with a brush or pumice stone and the scale will dissolve.

Another sure way to rid your home of hard water and lime scale would be to purchase a water softener. Water softeners offset and thwart the attack of hard water chemicals, which can create problems with appliances, plumbing, hot water heaters and sometimes create issues with skin and hair. Water softeners remove the culprit chemicals of calcium and magnesium from the water. There are many types of water softener systems available and to mention a few, salt-free, salt-based, reverse osmosis and kinetic energy, all of which will rid your home of scale, scum and crust. It is important to compare water softener systems and the various models. You must consider manual systems, automatic systems, semi-automatic systems and so much more. The ease and operation of a system is important. Research any and all potential water softener systems to make sure they fit with your home environment and use. Water softener systems can vary greatly in price so make sure that you do your research in order to get the most out of a softener system.

Q: There are tax saving credits for solar, windows, hvac units, duct sealing and sun screens. What about tax credit for roofing materials?-Mike, Prescott

A: There is a "cool" shingle made by Tamko that is a super option and substitute for the traditional shingle. They are steel shingles and they are made of recycled material. They have a line of what are called "cool" colors which are eligible for federal tax credits. These shingles meet and/or exceed 25 percent of the Energy Star rating, and they maintain approximately 15 percent of solar-reflecting capabilities after being on a roof for three years. These shingles have proven to keep attics cooler and can save home energy expense.

The shingles are rated for UL Class A fire resistance, and they have a 50-year limited warranty.

Yavapai County Contractors Association (YCCA) is a professional association representing licensed, bonded and insured contractors, suppliers, distributors and business entities. Call YCCA for information on hiring a contractor at 778-0040. Submit questions to or through

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