New water auditor certification

The Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors Association (PHCC) has launched a new certification scheme to raise quality and expertise in the plumbing and heating industry. The newly developed water auditor program for plumbing contractors has been designed to improve the effectiveness of investigations and diagnostics. Poorly diagnosed plumbing problems result in wasted time and increased costs, and can also give the industry a bad reputation.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimate that the average home could be losing up to 10,000 gallons of water every year through untreated leaks. This is the equivalent of the amount of water needed to wash 270 loads of laundry. Ten percent of homes are losing a staggering 90 gallons every day, almost 33,000 gallons a year.

A leaking faucet is easy to spot and repair, however, where most people are losing water is under the floor or within the walls. The water drains away without causing any visible damage and homeowners are totally unaware of a problem beneath their feet.

Leaking water causes both higher water bills and higher energy bills. It is vital that homeowners address their problem leaks, but until now that has been no regulation over the investigation and diagnosis of water leaks. The only option is to call a plumber to start investigating a possible leak and this process is always disruptive and expensive as parts of the floor and walls need to be removed, resulting in the addition of repair and redecorating bills.

In these situations there is always a risk that a customer will be exploited in the process and overcharged for a substandard job. Unfortunately the cost of the work involved is often far more than the savings that are subsequently made in reduced bills, especially in cases where a leak is present but relatively minor.

To help combat this problem, the PHCC have developed a new training program for plumbers who wish to receive a water auditor certificate. The hope is that these certificates will provide homeowners with the confidence that a plumber will carry out the task expertly and fairly.

Chuck White, the vice president of technical and code services at PHCC, explained the process: “A water auditor reviews a facility’s existing devices and operations, and rates structures to determine opportunities to save water and energy. The auditor evaluates the needs of the client and makes building-science-based recommendations, supported by projected savings in water, energy and money.”

Once the water auditor has carried out the survey they will then recommend action to be taken and provide a quotation for the work and also include figures of expected savings.

Chuck White explained also that water savings can be a measured amount of it may be a projected saving based on high performance fixture appliances. Auditors will be trained to make these calculations either on paper or by using a computer program.

Homeowners will be able to make a more informed decision whether or not to go ahead with the corrective work.

What are the most common household leaks?

leaking faucetThe two most common types of leak that lead to water wastage are leaking faucets and leaks in water pipes and pipe fittings. It is rare that an actual pipe will leak; the problem usually is an old and worn fitting that has corroded and allowed water to seep through the joins.

However, there may be other serious problems that do not involve the actual leaking of water. Poorly insulated hot water pipes, or pipes with no insulation at all, result in a huge amount of heat lost. If water is heated too much this causes its own problems including increase water pressure. Some systems are designed to run cooler and heating water too high is also wasteful, especially if the water is always too to use for washing.

One of the most costly types of leak is a leaking hot water pipe. Not only are you losing water but also wasting the energy that was required to heat the water.

If every home identified and fixed all their leaking pipes this has a positive knock-on effect across the whole community and environment. Household bills will reduce and a reduction in demand will lower water bills and energy bills. The reduction in demand also results in fewer infrastructure improvements, such as additional well fields and wastewater treatment, which are very costly. These savings will then also be transferred to the homeowners.

The PHCC’s Water and Energy Conservation Committee wishes to see more a proactive attitude to water management. They feel that the best way to address this is via a new certification scheme. The certificate is aimed at PHCC member contractors and their technicians

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