Tips for Managing Water Systems in Existing Buildings
First, do not back away from water-conservation measures. Problems in drain lines are no justification for wasteful consumption. Instead, consider these tips for managing waste systems in existing buildings:
- When replacing fixtures with lower-flow models, inspect drain lines for corrosion and other conditions that obstruct the flow.
- Clean waste lines when replacing fixtures.
- Consider using toilet paper with lower tensile strength for lines prone to clogging.
- Carefully consider reduced fixture flow rates for toilet fixtures located at the beginning of long horizontal runs.
- During product specification, consider the placement of high-efficiency toilets and other nearby fixtures within the system.
- Discourage building occupants from flushing paper towels and other items not meant for the sanitary system.
- Consider the suitability of the waste-pipe material and maintenance procedures before connecting waterless fixtures.
From a sustainability perspective, we need to think more broadly about conserving the water facilities use daily, as well as about maintaining existing buildings so they provide long-term value for the resources they require during construction and operation. For plumbing systems, this means considering water-conservation measures, as well as the way decisions are inherently tied to waste systems and their ability to operate efficiently.
Laurie Gilmer, P.E., CFM, SFP, LEED AP, CxA — is vice president of facility services with Facility Engineering Associates (FEA) — www.feapc.com — and leads FEA's facility asset management, building energy management, and sustainability services. She has assisted managers in improving building systems operations, creating and implementing energy management plans, identifying energy saving opportunities, and LEED certification for existing buildings. Her experience includes sustainability, LEED, systems analysis, energy audits, commissioning, building systems planning, and controls reviews.