Water Best Practices

Implementing these best practices can not only have a positive impact on your water and utility bill, but also on the Lāna‘i community. Everyone appreciates a conscientious neighbor!

Practice 1: No Wipes Down the Pipes – Be careful what you put down the drain

Kitchen fats, oils, and grease (FOG) is a special category of harmful waste that clogs the pipes and causes serious problems. Blockages in pipes lead to property damage and damage to the sewer system, which can lead to public health hazards like sewer backups and overflows.

1. Put cooking oil and grease in the trash

  • Pour used cooking oils and grease into small, recycled containers, preferably ones not made of plastic, to cool and harden them. When the container is full, cover it and place it in a bag to prevent leakage. Then, dispose of it in the garbage.
  • Before washing your dishes or kitchen utensils in the sink or dishwasher, use a scraper or paper towels to remove oil, grease and food.
  • Tip: Using empty food cans or glass containers are great options, as plastic may melt if the oil and grease is too hot.

2. Minimize the use of kitchen sink garbage disposals

  • Throw food particles in the trash instead of the garbage disposal. Ground food particles and grease can still clog your pipes.
  • Tip: Using a mesh sink strainer is a great way to prevent unwanted particles from falling in the drain.

3. Wipes of all types belong in the trash

  • Many households are increasing their use of sanitizing wipes and “flushable” wipes, however, even those labeled “flushable” or “biodegradable” can cause backups for sewer utilities.
  • Throw all flushing wipes, paper towels or other paper products in the trash.

Practice 2: Flip Your Flapper – Save Water

A toilet flapper is the rubber device that holds water in the tank, then releases water into the bowl when the toilet is flushed. Replace your flapper at least every 5 years for efficient water use.

1. Check for leaks

If you’re not sure if your flapper needs replacing, test for a water leak. Drop a few drops of food coloring or a dye tablet into the toilet tank’s water. Wait 10 minutes. If the dye shows up in the bowl, you have a leak, and it’s time to purchase a new flapper.

Here’s a few tips:

  • Don’t forget to flush afterward to remove any leftover dye to avoid staining the bowl.
  • Have a tower flushing mechanism? Check your rubber seal. Some single- or dual-flush toilets have a tower flushing mechanism that could get worn out or misaligned, which leads to leaks.

2. Purchasing a new flapper

Take a photo of your tank

To ensure you purchase the right replacement flapper size, take a photo of the inside of the tank, and bring it to your local hardware store. Or measure the diameter of the drainpipe inside the tank.

1 ⅞” of 2 ⅜” drain diameter = 2″ flapper
3″ range drain diameter = 3″ flapper

Check your float

If your toilet has an elongated tank, it could have a foam float that attached to the flapper chain. If it does, make sure you buy a flapper with a float that comes in the same package. Or, check the website of your toilet manufacturer to see if they have replacement parts or information on how to replace it.

3. Replacing a flapper

Turn off the water

Before removing your old flapper, turn off the water to the toilet by rotating the shutoff valve clockwise until it stops the water supply. Drain the toilet tank by flushing the toilet.

Check the chain

All flappers come with a chain that hooks to the flush arm and lifts the flapper to release water into the bowl. When attaching the chain, if it’s too tight, it may not allow the flapper to fully drop and seal the drain after flushing. If it’s too loose, it may prevent the flapper from properly covering and sealing the drain.

Test the flush

After you install your new flapper and attach the chain to the flush arm, test it by flushing with the tank lid off, and make sure the flapper drops and seals the pipe hole completely without too much slack in the chain.

4. Need more information?

Learn more about finding and fixing household leaks here: https://www.epa.gov/watersense/fix-leak-week

Learn more on how to solve your toilet problems or deciding what type of flapper you need by visiting the manufacturer’s website for your toilet. Two major manufacturers of flappers also have websites to help you diagnose problems and find the right flapper to fit your needs.

Practice 3: Spruce Up Your Sprinkler

Properly maintaining your home’s sprinkler system can help prevent you from wasting thousands of gallons of water per month.

1. Check for breaks

  • Look for broken sprinkler heads by spotting ones that don’t pop up fully or are tilted.
  • Place a distinct marker next to the broken sprinkler heads, so you can easily come back to repair them later.

2. Check for leaks

Between irrigation cycles, look for areas with water pooling on the surface. This could be a sign of an underground leak in the joints or pipes. If you think there could be a leak, check your pressure regulator as leaking joints could be a sign of too much water pressure or particles in the water.

Check the connections inside the valve boxes to ensure all valves and components are securely connected. If valves are not able to close completely, your system could slowly seep water even when turned off.

3. Control the direction

Head-to-head coverage – each sprinkler should be able to reach the sprinkler head next to it.

Over spraying or misting could be due to high pressure and could result in unintentionally wasting water. Consider installing spray sprinkler bodies, which are exterior shells that house the spray nozzle and mitigates water pressure to increase efficiency.

4. Need more information?

Use this simple checklist for your landscape when checking for leaks:
https://www.epa.gov/sites/default/files/2020-04/documents/ws-outdoor-landscaping-find-it-flag-it-audit-checklist.pdf

Learn more about spray sprinkler bodies here: https://www.epa.gov/watersense/spray-sprinkler-bodies