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Setting Up a Hydroponic Garden

Hydroponic gardening is the practice of growing plants in water.  This soil less gardening method has been used in ancient times in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the Floating Gardens of China.  Since then, some other countries, like Holland and Germany have successfully commercialized hydroponic gardening.

Hydroponic gardening is preferable to traditional soil planting because plants grow 30-50% faster and yield more produce.  Part of this is because plants grow in an oxygen rich environment since oxygen is in the water and the environment, which encourages root growth.  In addition, because nutrients are added to the planting medium, plants are able to better absorb the nutrients over time in a way that is not possible in traditional soil planting.  Since nutrients are easier to take up the plant wastes less energy trying to find the nutrients and break them down as food for the plant.  In addition, hydroponic plants have fewer funguses, disease and bug infestations all while using less water than soil planting.

If you want to begin hydroponic gardening, you will have to select a growing medium.  Choices include perlite, vermiculate, sand and shale.  Supplies are available at most nurseries and home improvement stores.  Supplies can also be purchased online.  You will also need nutrient solution.

Finally, you will need to choose whether you will use an active or passive system.  Active systems rely on a pump to circulate the water and nutrient solution while a passive system relies on the plants’ root system to pick up the nutrients.  Systems can be purchased as a kit or built at home to your specifications.  To reduce frustration, beginners might want to consider purchasing a kit from a hydroponic supply store.

Have a plumbing issue and need some help?  Call the professionals at Go Green Plumbing at 336-252-2999 for service 7 days a week/24 hours a day.  If water runs through it – We Do It!

 Low Maintenance Landscapes

 

Are you looking for a way to spend less time maintaining your landscape this summer and more time enjoying it?  If so, you are not alone.  But how do you develop a landscape that looks nice and fresh but doesn’t require a lot of time, energy and water to maintain?

There are many ways you can reduce your use of fertilizer, water and time.  One way to save time is to simply reduce the amount of grass you have to mow, water and fertilize.  You can do this by adding hardscape elements like rock or mulch.  Rock and mulch are both available in a wide variety of colors and textures that can complement your home and design aesthetic.  Look for a local nursery that can help you develop a complete design that fits your needs. Mulch will also hold in water for any plants in the landscape, reducing your water consumption.

By planting perennials instead of annuals, you can plant once and forget about it. Annuals will give you instant color, but often only last a few months or weeks instead of years.  Choose evergreen plants to serve as a backdrop and add other perennials for color and texture.

Consider adding succulents and other low water demand plants.  Here in North Carolina our winters are mild enough that these plants can often survive with little winter coverage.  If in doubt, cover with mulch for the winter season and uncover after the risk of frost is past.

Another time saver is to simply reduce the variety of plants in the landscape.  By having just a handful of plant types, maintenance is less varied and therefore easier to carry out.

Have a plumbing issue and need some help?  Call the professionals at Go Green Plumbing at 336-252-2999 for service 7 days a week/24 hours a day.  If water runs through it – We Do It!

How to Repair a Garden Hose

How to Repair a Garden Hose by Go Green Plumbing

Have you ever gone to water your newly planted spring flowers only to turn the hose on and see a leak?  Or maybe you’ve run over the brass nozzle on the end of the hose.  If it is a nice hose, you may want to consider repairing the hose rather than tossing it. Sure, garden hoses are not that expensive, but when you have one that you really like it can be hard to part with it.

Repairing your hose can be easy with the right tools and a little know how.  First, you will want to turn off the water and disconnect the hose from the spigot.  Next, look at where the hole is in the hose.  If it is close to the ends, you may want to just cut the hose at the leak and attach a new brass coupling, thereby shortening the length of the hose. If not, you can repair it at the point of the leak.  Look for a patch kit at the local hardware store.

If it is leaking near the brass coupling on the end, try replacing the rubber gasket that fits between the end of the hose and the spigot.  Most hoses come with a flat gasket, but replacing with a round O gasket can give you a better seal and stop the dripping near the spigot.   You can also find replacement brass hose barb kit if you need to replace the end pieces. Once the barb is in, slide the clamp up to the middle of the barb and tighten it with a screwdriver.

Have a plumbing issue and need some help?  Call the professionals at Go Green Plumbing at 336-252-2999 for service 7 days a week/24 hours a day.  If water runs through it – We Do It!

 

How to Use Rain Barrels to Keep Landscape Green

Want to keep your lawn green this summer without using so much of that clear, clean water?  Consider a rain barrel.  There are many different types of rain barrels on the market, whether you want to make one on your own with a reclaimed plastic barrel or if you want to purchase a ready to use model.  Rain barrels can collect the rainwater that falls into them, or they can divert water from your gutter system, and hence your rooftop surface.

Rain barrels are usually equipped with a gravity fed spigot that you can attach a hose to in order to use the water.  Other models may have a pump integrated to give you additional water pressure options.

If you choose to make your own, here are the steps you will want to follow.  First, secure a container.  While the container can be made of wood, plastic or metal, consider that it will be exposed to significant amounts of water and sun.  Most are made of plastic since it does not break down in the elements.  Hint:  we like in North Carolina, home to Mount Olive Pickles.   Consider riding over there to get one of their used pickle barrels for your rain barrel.

Next, you will want to drill a hole in the bottom to outfit with a faucet kit to allow you to pull the water out for use in your flower beds or on the lawn.  These kits can be purchased at most home improvement stores.  Second, you’ll want to find a way to fill the barrel.  You can divert your gutter into the barrel, or install a diverter that will allow the barrel to fill, and any water beyond the fill will divert back to the gutter system.  These are also available at most home improvement stores.

Have a plumbing issue and need some help?  Call the professionals at Go Green Plumbing at 336-252-2999 for service 7 days a week/24 hours a day.  If water runs through it – We Do It!

 

Maximize Tax Deductions Next Year

Tax returns are due on Monday, April 18 thanks to Washington D.C.’s observation of Emancipation Day. While many of us appreciate the extra few days, the fact is that they will still be due on Monday!  You probably are still thinking about the taxes you are filing this year, it is a great time to start thinking about your taxes for next year, and for the coming years.

Certain Energy Star certified electric water heaters and gas water heaters qualify for a tax credit of$300!  If you purchase an electric water heater with an energy factor of greater than or equal to 2.0, you will qualify for purchases made in 2016.  For gas, oil or propane water heaters the energy factor must  be equal to or greater than 0.82 or a thermal efficiency of at least 90%.

For water heaters, the energy factor is based on three factors: 1) the recovery efficiency, or how efficiently the heat from the energy source is transferred to the water; 2) stand-by losses, or the percentage of heat lost per hour from the stored water compared to the content of the water: and 3) cycling losses.

The tax credit does not apply to rental properties or newly constructed properties.  The water heater must be installed in your primary residence before December 31, 2016, so this  is the last year to claim this deduction.  Unfortunately, there is no tax credit for electric storage tanks or electric tankless water heaters and the can not earn the energy star.  You earn these credits when you file your tax return next year by filing form 5695.

Have a plumbing issue and need some help?  Call the professionals at Go Green Plumbing at 336-252-2999 for service 7 days a week/24 hours a day.  If water runs through it – We Do It!

Low Flow Toilets Save Money

1625.prd.s.alt.002When the modern toilet was first developed in the mid 1800’s there was little concern about the amount of water used.  At that time, the population lived in areas with abundant water nearby.  Farmers needed it to water their fields and animals and city dwellers working in the manufacturing industry lived near water because it powered the mills in town.  Back then it was not unusual for a toilet flush to use seven gallons of water.

Then, in the 1990s we realized that we couldn’t continue to use that much water every time we flushed the toilet.  There were more people in the world, and more had access to indoor plumbing.  Therefore, the government required that manufacturers reduce the amount of water used with each flush.  The new standard was 1.6 gallons of water per flush.

However, toilet manufactures did little to change the design of the toilet to support the reduced water usage.  Instead, they relied on the traditional design, with less water.  After this change consumers were disappointed in the performance of these new toilets and did everything possible to keep their old, water hogging toilets.  However, do not be afraid.

Modern water saving toilets feature larger flapper valves to allow more water to pass from the tank to the bowl more quickly than in the past resulting in more force, with less water.  In addition, some models allow pressurized water to pass with the water the push the waste through the system.  This not only saves water, it saves money by reducing your water consumption.  It’s better for your wallet and the environment too!

Have a plumbing issue and need some help?  Call the professionals at Go Green Plumbing at 336-252-2999 for service 7 days a week/24 hours a day.  If water runs through it – We Do It!

 

Faucet Water Filter versus Whole House

Faucet Water Filter versus Whole House by Go Green Plumbingmoen-reflex

Does your water taste funny?  Maybe it is time to consider adding a filter to improve the taste of the water and remove harmful contaminants.  Water tastes change depending on if you are on municipal water supplies or on a well.  Those on municipal water supplies may find that their water tastes heavily of chlorine.  This chemical gas smell can be quite strong, but often dissipates as the water sits over time.  Drinkers of well water may find that they water smells more metallic in nature.  This smell does not dissipate over time, but can even settle as a residue into the bottom of the glass.  Both instances provide an opportunity to improve the smell and taste of the water.

So, what are your options?  For one thing, you can install a whole house filter and conditioning system.  This will filter the water when it comes into your house and allow you to soften it as well with salt.  While this option can be expensive to install, the cost of maintaining it will be relatively low compared to other methods and all of the water in your home will be treated.

On the other hand, you can purchase a faucet filter for the points where you are likely to use water for drinking.  This may mean just the kitchen, but you should consider bathroom sinks as well if you frequently use those to draw drinking water.  One benefit of this method is that it is easy for the homeowner to install on their own without professional assistance.  However, filter costs can add up quickly, and unfiltered and un-softened water will still be used in laundry and showers.  In the case of water laced with metallic components, this can reduce the life of clothing and make it look dingy.  It will also affect the texture and feel of hair.

If you want help installing a whole house system, call Go Green!  Have a plumbing issue and need some help?  Call the professionals at Go Green Plumbing at 336-252-2999 for service 7 days a week/24 hours a day.  If water runs through it – We Do It!

 

Installing a Dishwasher

Installing a Dishwasher

If you are like most modern families you rely heavily on your modern appliances – especially your dishwasher.  In addition to the standard plates and silverware, you use it to wash pots, pans and everything in between.  So with all you throw at it each day, maybe it is time to consider a new, energy efficient model that can save you moolah!

Today’s dishwashers are designed to not only look great, but also operate more energy efficiently and with less water.  This means you can save about $30 a year on your electrical consumption and over 500 gallons of water annually.  This can make for great savings, and it makes your life easier.  You don’t have to pre-wash dishes in the sink before loading them in the machine, and you won’t have to wash them once you unload either.

If you decide to go for a new dishwasher, relax!  If you are installing in the same location as your existing dishwasher, electrical and plumbing connections should already be there, although different connections may have to be made to accommodate the new dishwasher.  Be sure to check the new connections before leaving the store so that you don’t have to make a trip back to the store for needed supplies.

First, turn off all power and using your shut off valve to cut off the water going into the dishwasher.  Remove the old dishwasher by sliding it out from under the counter.  Disconnect hoses and electrical connections.  Move the old one out of the way and slide the new one close to the opening.  Connect water and electrical connections and slide the new unit under the counter.  Make sure the unit is level by adding shims or adjusting the screw in feet.

Have a plumbing issue and need some help?  Call the professionals at Go Green Plumbing at 336-252-2999 for service 7 days a week/24 hours a day.  If water runs through it – We Do It!

Seasonal Herbs for Your Spring and Summer

Fresh herbs can really make a spring or summer meal!  Their fresh, crisp taste can bring new life to vegetables and casseroles!  You can start your herb garden now to provide you with herbs for most of the summer.

Gardening is a great activity for a busy family.  Children can learn where their food comes from and have fun along the way.  Small children can help plant seeds and even harvest herbs with adult supervision and help.  Older children can even set up and maintain their own garden.  Meanwhile, everyone in the family gets to enjoy the taste.

Just like vegetables and fruits, some herbs need the cooler weather and shorter days of spring in order to develop their full flavor.   Some herbs even change depending on the weather, like cilantro. In the spring the leaves are known as cilantro, but in the summer the seed pods that form are known as coriander.  Some herbs that prefer cooler weather and shorter days are:

  • Cilantro
  • Basil
  • Chervil
  • Chives
  • Dill
  • Lemongrass
  • Mint
  • Marjoram
  • Parsley
  • Rosemary
  • Tarragon
  • And Thyme

Whether you are growing the herbs in the ground, in a container or even hydroponically,  whether inside or outside, these herbs will add a special touch to all your meals!  You may even find some new herbs that you’ve never tried before.

Have a plumbing issue and need some help?  Call the professionals at Go Green Plumbing at 336-252-2999 for service 7 days a week/24 hours a day.  If water runs through it – We Do It!