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February 7, 2011 -
Plumbing & Restrooms
I'm Dan Hounsell, editor of Maintenance Solutions magazine. Today's topic is, water audits.
Beyond simply identifying problems in plumbing systems, a water audit also can point maintenance and engineering managers toward the most appropriate actions to minimize water use. Among the basic measures that can produce savings in this area are proper maintenance and the repair and replacement of existing fixtures with newer, more water-efficient fixtures.
When updating fixtures to comply with water-use standards, managers need to be careful about possible unintended consequences. For example, if replacement takes place throughout a building, technicians also should review the waste system. Over time, oversized waste lines can back up because of the inadequate flows produced by newer, lower-flow fixtures.
To ensure an adequate return on the investment in an upgraded plumbing system, managers need to evaluate other opportunities for savings based on the cost of capital improvements. Higher costs might be more acceptable if an organization has committed to making its facilities more environmentally responsible.
Finally, managers planning plumbing-system upgrades must consider costs carefully. It is difficult to buy a new fixture that does not meet current codes for flow rates, but some go above the minimum requirements, often at an additional cost. Managers will need to evaluate new-equipment purchases from different vendors, with an ultimate goal of reducing water use.