Find out how to detect hidden water leaks in your home using food coloring, paper towels, and your water meter.
Damaging water leaks in your home are often quite easy to identify and fix. Major breaks in water pipes are noticed right away and the damage can be repaired rather quickly. What you may not realize is there can be many hidden leaks you cannot so easily detect. Water leaks account for higher water bills and structural damage.
Many communities encourage water conservation and offer tips for saving money on your water bill. Place a call to them for additional tips about water conservation. Wasting water not only raises your monthly bill, it also increases the chances of your water rates being raised in the future. The more pumps and water fixtures are used by your water supplier, the more often they need to be replaced. If you have a well as a water supply you should be concerned with the strain leaks may put on your system. Many people have wells that will occasionally run dry. By eliminating any hidden leaks you can lessen the chances of this happening.
Water leaks may not just cost you more money on your water bill; they could also cost you your home. Water leaking into the structure of your house can weaken wood. Sitting water in hidden spaces can also encourage the growth of molds. Some molds are dangerous and can drive you from your home.
Leaky faucets are a major waste of water. One slow dripping faucet can waste up to 20 gallons of water a day. Over the period of a year this can add up to six thousand gallons of water. Check all faucets in your home for any type of leak. The cost of repairs will save you money in the long run.
If you own a dishwasher it is suggested that you only run it when you have a full load ready to be cleaned. A typical dishwasher will use 15 gallons of water each load. Running loads that are only half full is a waste of water. Check around the bottom of your dishwasher for leaks. Leave paper towels around the outside of the machine while it is in use. When the dishwasher stops running check the paper towels for signs of water. If you find water leaking you should have your machine serviced immediately.
Leaking toilets are also a huge money waster. If your toilet runs often have the mechanisms in your tank completely replaced. Some toilets have slow leaks that are not noticeable. Slow water leaks in toilets can waste up to 100 gallons of water per day. Get some food coloring and drop some in the tank of your toilet. Watch the bowl of your toilet for a few minutes to see if any of the food coloring appears. Check again in fifteen minutes. If coloring appears this means you have a slow leak.
Take some time to inspect the pipes underneath your sinks and tubs. These pipes can become stopped up and may begin to leak water. These types of leaks will not cost you money on your water bill but they can cause serious damage to your home over the long run. To help eliminate this type of damage refrain from dumping grease and food particles down your drains. Keep tub drains clear of hair and other materials.
Inspect the hose on your washing machine for leaks. You can check for leaks near the floor with paper towels. Look for signs for floor warping to detect hidden leaks. Inspect your water heater in the same manner. Older models may rust and spring leaks. Check all pipes running to and from the appliance.
If you have a hose connected to an exterior faucet you should check it for leaks. The best way to avoid this is to turn off the water supply at the faucet rather than relying on the hose spray attachment to stop the flow of the water. A small leak can add gallons to your daily water usage.
You can also use your water meter to check for any hidden leaks. Turn off all faucets and make sure you are not running any appliances that use water. Check the reading on your meter and do so again in an hour. If your meter has moved you have a hidden water leak somewhere in your home.
There are several factors to weigh when deciding to use polishes and waxes on furniture and other wooden objects. One critical factor is that the ingredients in commercial polishes and cleaning products are rarely disclosed. Moreover, these ingredients can be, and frequently are, changed without warning or notification. These ingredients may be harmless or harmful to the furniture (and to you) and you have no way of knowing in advance.
Polishing products are available in three forms: aerosol (spray); liquid; and semisolid. Here is a quick look at their benefits and drawbacks:
AEROSOLS (Spray Polishes): Aerosols are convenient. However, they have been among the worst offenders in introducing silicone oils and other contaminants onto furniture. In addition, they may contain solvents that attack varnishes and lacquers. While some of the "dusting" aerosols appear to be benign when applied to a cloth and not the piece of furniture, the result is similar to using a damp, clean dust cloth.
LIQUIDS: Like aerosols, liquid polishes are easy to use. There are two primary forms of commercial liquid products for "furniture care": emulsion cleaner or polishes and "oil type" polishes. Emulsion polishes are waxes, oils, detergents, organic solvents, and other materials suspended in water for ease of application. These products can be extremely powerful cleaners that leave a desirable sheen on the surface. However, the visual effect usually diminishes as the liquid dries. Moreover, like aerosols, emulsion polishes can introduce contaminants onto the furniture, but because they are liquids they place much more volume than sprays on the furniture surface.
Oil polishes are even more troublesome. Much like emulsion polishes, oil polishes can be a complex blend of ingredients including oils, waxes, perfumes, colorants, "cleaners," and organic solvents. They can render extremely pleasing surfaces and are used frequently as final finishes by themselves. However, oils used as polishes or cleaners can be very damaging.
- Nondrying oils (paraffin, mineral, and "lemon oil," which is usually mineral oil with colorants and perfumes added) tend to be more benign than drying oils, but even so some oil remains as a liquid on (or in) the object. Dust and other airborne contaminants readily stick to wet surfaces, especially oils. But nondrying oils don't undergo chemical reactions or directly damage the furniture.
- Drying oils, on the other hand, such as linseed, tung, or walnut oil, are a different matter altogether. These materials solidify, or "dry" through a chemical reaction with the air called oxidation. Over time this reaction makes them increasingly difficult to remove. Their permanence is fine if the oil is employed as the finish, but not good if it is used as a maintenance polish. By itself, having a polish that is difficult to remove would be an irritating but not an insurmountable problem. Unfortunately, as drying oils age they tend to yellow and in the presence of acids they are chromogenic (become Colored), turning a dark, muddy brown or opaque black.
- Traditionally, cleaning and polishing concoctions comprised of linseed oil, turpentine, beeswax, and vinegar (acetic acid) were widely used even in the museum field until recently. They turned out to be a disaster waiting to happen. The results of their use are readily apparent to even the casual observer: a thick incrustation of chocolate-colored goo that is neither hard enough to be durable nor soft enough to wipe off easily. The furniture is left with an unsightly coating that is very difficult to remove without damaging the underlying surface.
SEMISOLIDS: By virtually any measure semisolid polishes are the least damaging to wooden objects. Frequently called "paste waxes," these products are actually a very concentrated solution of waxes. Provided the ingredients do not include undesirable contaminants like silicone or high concentrations of damaging organic solvents such as alcohol, xylene, or toluene, paste waxes are an excellent polish for the surfaces of most wooden objets. Because waxes are exceedingly stable and don't cause many of the problems inherent in the previously mentioned polishes, they are the material of choice for furniture conservators and other caretakers of furniture and wooden objects. But paste waxes have their faults too: unfortunately, they require the most active contact with the surface of the furniture, and also need the most physical labor for proper application. Buffing out a wax polish can be very hard work, and in general, the better quality the wax, the harder the buffing that is needed. However, the results and benefits to the furniture are worth the extra effort. Fortunately, as the most durable and stable polishing material, paste wax needs to be applied much less often than aerosols or liquids. Ideally, wax polishing should be conducted no more than twice a year for areas of extremely heavy wear (desktops, chair arms, etc.) and once every three or four years for table and chair legs, cabinets, and similar areas. If a surface can no longer be buffed to the sheen appropriate for a waxed surface, it is likely that the wax has worn off. In that case, apply another light coat of wax to the affected area in accordance with the product instructions. Wax that is applied too frequently or improperly can build-up and cause an unsightly surface. When the wax is used correctly, however, the solvent content of the new wax will "clean off" any previous wax remaining on the surface and will simply integrate the old into the new.
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