Beat the heat with water conservation and home safety advice

The peak water usage season, which usually begins in late July or early August, arrived early this year with record high temperatures and widespread drought. During the warmer months, the average American uses about four times as much water as they do the rest of the year. More time outdoors translates into more sweat and dirt, which leads to taking more frequent showers and washing additional loads of laundry. Meanwhile, outside, fighting heat and lack of rain requires heavy lawn and garden watering.

All of the increased activity adds up. Fortunately, the plumbing experts at Roto-Rooter recommend a list of water safety and conservation tips to beat the heat.

1. Check the temperature setting on your water heater. It should be set no higher than 125 degrees to prevent scalding and reduce energy use. Summer is a good time to turn the temperature down, especially when away on vacation to save on energy costs.

2. Replacing an old showerhead can save up to 7.5 gallons of water per minute without sacrificing water pressure. Also, try cleaning mineral deposits from the showerhead by unscrewing it, soaking it in vinegar overnight and then gently scrubbing with a toothbrush to remove deposits.

3. To maximize efficiency with each load of laundry, check washing machine hoses for rupture. Turn valves on and off to check for leaks.

4. Water should flow freely from outdoor faucets when watering the lawn, washing the car or filling the pool.

5. If everything is operating as it should, be conscious about conserving water. Water your lawn before sun up or after sun down to reduce wasted evaporation.

6. If you will be out of town on vacation and have no house-sitters requiring the washing machine, you can shut off the machine’s water supply.

7. When traveling, install a rain shut-off device on your automatic sprinklers to eliminate unnecessary watering. Another useful device is a flood detector that works like a smoke detector, setting off an alarm to warn your house-sitter of a potential flood or leak.

8. Make sure that yard drains, gutters and downspouts are cleaned out, open and free of debris.

9. Beware of standing water. Excess water can result from leaky or broken pipes or a damaged sewer line. Standing water is not healthy for children or pets, and is a breeding ground for insects and germs. Inspect the yard for areas that are too wet and with unusual plant or grass growth.

10. If your region is experiencing or anticipating drought, schedule a pipe and drain inspection. Extended periods of very dry ground can cause strain on pipes resulting in cracks. This can create a very serious and expensive problem for homeowners, so it is best to get in front of it with an inspection.

Roto-Rooter has additional seasonal plumbing tips available on-line at