Toilet Trends

Customers are demanding more eco-friendly options. Whether they’re at the mall, at the grocery store, or looking to update their bathroom, they want products that have low environmental impact. Homeowners are trending towards low-flow toilets that maximize flushing power and reduce water consumption.

Low-flow models rely on pressure and gravity to get the most bang per flush without relying on excessive water. Some models show that switching to a low-flow commode can save up to 4,000 gallons of water annually, because they use just over a gallon per flush.

While the models can save customers money and help the environment, they can present certain challenges to plumbers.

“The margin for error for providing adequate evacuation and drainage has now shrunk considerably and can result in less than optimal performance in challenging situations, such as when there is marginal water pressure or old and poorly pitched drain lines. The industry needs to take a hard look at building and plumbing standards and determine if they need to be updated to account for the changes in water usage,” said Mark Lawinger in an interview with Supply House Times.

Some low-flow customers report having to flush multiple times to clear away heavier loads. Other homeowners with older houses don’t have compatible plumbing lines to connect a more efficient toilet.

PlumbingHelpToday.com reports that when there are too many low-flow toilets in one area, a stinky problem can arise: if there’s not enough water to push sewage through, waste can back up. This same problem can happen on a smaller scale: inside the house. Non-flushable waste is more likely to back up when it’s being handled by a low-flow model.

As customers demand more low-flow toilets, manufacturers will have to continue working on a solution that strikes the perfect balance between eco-friendliness and power to avoid these issues.

Household Plumbing Systems Under Stress with More People at Home

Toilets, sinks, showers and bathtubs are getting a lot more use with everyone stuck at home.

WJBF News talked to Drain Surgeon Plumbing, and plumber Kevin Coleman says their team has had to snake out a lot of drains being filled with non-flushable items. Those items are also ending up inside sewage treatment facilities where it’s clogging up even more systems. Even items that are supposed to be flushed, like regular toilet paper, can sometimes cause problems because people are simply using more of it.

Georgia Pacific has been cited as saying households are using 40% more material while they’re all home during quarantine.

While some of these new challenges are creating plumbing issues, some plumbers say certain families are waiting out any repairs. Some don’t have the funds to afford a fix because of the massive unemployment numbers, others, don’t want strangers entering their houses because of the risk of coronavirus spread.

The Sentinel in Pennsylvania says local plumbers have been responding to many calls that are either emergencies or extremely urgent, while more routine maintenance and fixes have been put off.

Plumbers Navigate New Challenges During Pandemic

In every state, plumbers are considered an essential trade that keeps society moving. While many workers are out of a job and sheltered at home, plumbers are still active and helping homeowners and businesses stay up and running.

As states and businesses navigate a new normal in the age of COVID-19, trades groups like the United Association of Maryland have rolled out extensive guidelines to keep plumbers safe on the job.

Spread through Drain and Vent Systems

The group advises that the coronavirus can spread through sanitary drain and vent systems. The group says an outbreak was identified in a high-rise building in Hong Kong after a sanitary drain and vent system were altered to open up connections through the building. Numerous people in the 30-story facility were later diagnosed with the virus.

Personal Protective Equipment

Personal protective equipment is strongly advised while plumbers and pipefitters are on the job. The UA recommends a full face shield worn over safety goggles, gloves and protective clothing

“Assume that everything inside that system is contagious. [There is] the potential to come into contact with water and aerosols that contain the coronavirus when working on sanitary systems or sewers,” their guide says.

For workers handling human waste or sewage, they recommend goggles, full-face shields, liquid-repellant coveralls, rubber outer gloves with nitrile inner gloves, and finish off the look with rubber boots.

Removing PPE

Taking off the equipment is just as important as putting it on. When the job’s over, take off the suit carefully by rolling inside out. Do the same with the gloves.

“Wash hands, arms and face in that order with soap and water for at least 20 seconds immediately after removing PPE,”

Using Tools

Avoid sharing your tools with your coworker. Clean your tools often with an EPA approved agent to disinfect. If you cannot find any, use a 1:10 bleach water mix or use soap and water.

Socially Distance

Finally, it’s paramount to socially distance. Maintain six feet between coworkers and homeowners. To the maximum extent, try to communicate with customers by telephone or email before and after a call to avoid catching or spreading something. If you can bill them digitally, that will avoid the use of a shared pen and paper.

You can read the full report here: https://uanet.org/pdf/GuidelinesWorkerHealthPlumbingHVACSystemsCOVID-19.pdf

Many Plumbers Remain Busy During COVID

U.S. unemployment hit nearly 20% in early May, a staggering figure that rivals economic lows like the Great Depression. The coronavirus crisis and subsequent economic closures have thousands applying for benefits and stuck at home without work.

While many are out of work, the plumbing industry has shown its strength and necessity even in the most challenging of times. Many, if not all, states have deemed plumbing an essential part of society’s critical infrastructure.

Some plumbers have seen increases in calls due to more people being home and putting strains on their systems. Others have had maintenance and minor repairs canceled or delayed while people are either out of work and unable to pay, or hesitant to invite someone into their house because of the COVID-19 outbreaks.

Either way, plumbing businesses still have their doors open while thousands of other sectors have had to close theirs. The demand for plumbers is expected to grow “much faster than average” through 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The agency says the career will grow 14% during this time frame.

Some states, like Michigan, are rolling out initiatives to encourage more people to enter trades like plumbing. MLive reports that 545,000 skilled trades job will be created in The Mitten through 2026, but employers are having a hard time finding the people to fill those roles.

The fact is, too many Baby Boomers are exiting or retiring from the field and not enough young blood is entering. Further, MLive reports that skilled trades make on average 45% more than the state’s median income, yet the path to finding that career requires less formal schooling that comes at a way cheaper price.

Woman Plumber Starts Nonprofit to Introduce Young Girls to Trades

“Jobs don’t have genders,” says New York City based plumber Judaline Cassidy. Cassidy has been plumbing for more than 20 years, and she’s received sexist comments and judgment for just as long. In a blog, she writes that every day, someone asks her if she is qualified to do the job.

Her answer? Hell yes, I’m qualified.

The question is hardly ever asked to her male counterparts, and Cassidy needs to prove her doubters wrong every day.

“Always having people doubt your capabilities and passion is hard. Knowing the opportunity for advancement isn’t as readily available to you is harder still. Then there’s this: if you push for it, you are talked about, called a ‘troublemaker,’” writes Cassidy in the blog.

According to the 2010 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a measly 1.5% of plumbers, pipelayers, and pipefitters are women. Since 2017, Cassidy has been on a mission to recruit and inspire more women to become plumbers and/or join the trades. She founded her nonprofit, Tools & Tiaras, as a way to introduce young girls to construction work.

Tools & Tiaras offers summer camps, conferences, workshops and mentorships for young girls.

On her website, she says her vision is making these occupations more accessible and approachable for young girls. They do this by exposing and introducing young women to skilled trade jobs and helping them with hands-on projects. They teach lessons in carpentry, electrical, plumbing and more.

They’ve also teamed up with STEM groups to encourage young females to learn about topics and careers in that industry as well.

To learn more about Tools & Tiaras click here.

To donate to Tools & Tiaras click here.


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Oregon Advocacy Group Pushes for Compost Toilet and Sustainable Plumbing Systems

The average flush uses almost four gallons of water, and the average American uses nearly 20 gallons of water a day just using the bathroom, adding up to thousands of gallons down the drain every year. The commode is the single biggest user of water in an average house. Now, one Oregon-based group is on a mission to make the potty a little more eco-friendly.

Recode, of Portland, wants to encourage and empower their community to switch to composting toilets. Recode says the toilets do not use water. Instead they use four parts, a commode, a collection method, a composting chamber and a management plan to dispose of waste.

Composting toilets use gravity mechanisms to turn waste into usable manure that can be spread in gardens and on plants, safely, and effectively. The group says a Massachusetts study found bathrooms with these kinds of toilets reduced household nitrogen output by up to 96% after replacing their traditional fixtures.

According to the Greywater Action Council, Oregon is one of a few states in the country with plumbing code language that supports compost toilets in homes. The laws require homes to use NSF certified models.

A few years ago, Recode worked with groups and governmental bodies to get this language adopted. In 2015, the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials adopted Recode’s model composting toilet code.

The Greywater Action Council says typically, homeowners can install compost toilets to replace their standard ones, so long as at least one flush toilet is connected to an approved septic or sewer system, the manure isn’t transported across property lines, and the toilet doesn’t create an odor or nuisance that bothers the neighbors.


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Wisconsin Plumbers Accidentally Light Apartment on Fire During Maintenance Visit

A routine plumbing appointment turned devastating in Madison, Wisconsin, after workers set an apartment complex on fire. The Wisconsin State Journal reports that plumbers were working on a second floor bathroom and using a torch to make adjustments to the pipes. That’s when they noticed the wall smoking and called 911. The fire spread up the wall and into an attic.

No one was injured in the fire, but all the residents were evacuated from the premises. The Journal reports the fire caused $35,000 in damage. The Red Cross was on hand to help residents find a temporary place to stay while the utility worked on restoring power.

While emergencies like this are very rare, plumbing-related-fires happen more often than you’d think. Every winter, it seems like there are multiple people who use blow torches to thaw frozen pipes. In Tennessee, a man burned his entire house down while heating up a pipe.


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Texas Governor Saves Plumbing Regulatory Agency

Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued an executive order that will protect and preserve the State Board of Plumbing Examiners. The agency was in jeopardy of being abolished by the state legislature earlier this summer, when legislators failed to protect it from being dissolved. Some believed its existence was no longer justifiable, even though the board is responsible for issuing and renewing plumbing licenses in Texas.

Congressmen wanted to put plumbers under the regulation authority of another state department and many industry leaders resisted this action. The agency was set to be abolished by September 1, 2019, until Gov. Abbott took action.Gov. Abbott said last month that the board plays a significant role in the health and recovery of the state following Hurricane Harvey.

"To fulfill the demands for rebuilding after Hurricane Harvey and keeping Texas prepared and able to recover from future disasters, it is necessary to continue the [State Board Of Plumbing Examiners] to perform its indispensable role in protecting Texans," said Abbott in a press release.

Gov. Abbott renewed the agency’s authority for another two years.


ATTENTION PLUMBERS AND PLUMBING INSPECTORS

We are looking for instructors and presenters to help us grow our plumbing school. If you are a UPC plumber, have experience working with Fire Sprinkler Systems or have ideas for plumber courses, we want to hear from you. 

Benefits to becoming part of our instructor/presenter team

  • Opportunity to create course materials or simply present materials we have created.
  • Option for bulk payment or passive income
  • Nationwide name recognition in your field

Team of Plumbers Saves Mobile Home Park in Wisconsin

For weeks, residents in an Eau Claire, Wisconsin mobile home park have feared the possibility of homelessness after a string of sewer line issues threatened their safety and security, reports WQOW. Several people at the Maples Mobile Home Park had until July 2nd to fix the problem or they’d be forced to evacuate.

The expensive job was out of reach for many, so state representative Jodi Emerson called a plumbing union to see if there was any way they could help. Thankfully, the union responded promptly and arrived just in time to save the day.

Schmidt Plumbing of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin arrived on scene to assess the situation and strategize how to tackle it. Eight plumbers were able to fix the sewer lines and save the homes of many people at the Maples Mobile Home park.

The mobile home landlord agreed to foot the bill for the residents as long as they would help her clean up the rest of the park. WQOW reports that the Environmental Health Coordinator inspected the trailers and agreed that they were all up to code.


ATTENTION PLUMBERS AND PLUMBING INSPECTORS

We are looking for instructors and presenters to help us grow our plumbing school. If you are a UPC plumber, have experience working with Fire Sprinkler Systems or have ideas for plumber courses, we want to hear from you. 

Benefits to becoming part of our instructor/presenter team

  • Opportunity to create course materials or simply present materials we have created.
  • Option for bulk payment or passive income
  • Nationwide name recognition in your field

Danish Company Unveils Female Urinal

 Women can watch the world while spending a penny. Photograph: Lapee

Any woman who has ever been to a stadium sporting event or outdoor festival knows the struggle of waiting forever in long lines to use the bathroom while nearby men’s rooms have no queues and users can get in and get out quickly.

A recent report from the Royal Society for Public Health says the world needs more toilets for women. Now, a Danish company thinks they have a solution to even the playing field: female urinals.

The design concept is based on a simple observation every woman knows: women’s restrooms always have long lines, in fact, 90% of bathroom lines worldwide are women that need to pee.

The Lapee female urinal says their product gets women in and out in about 90 seconds, versus the three minutes it takes to use a toilet. Lapee’s website says it is “designed to provide cover for women peeing whereas standing men would be exposed. The height of the urinal brings privacy but also empowers women peeing, her eyesight is the same level as a standing man.”

The urinal unit is shaped like a boat propeller from a bird’s eye view and has three spaces for women and no doors. Its creator, Gina Perier, says it’s the female version of a product that has helped men for decades and allows women the same efficiency, safety and hygiene.

To see the urinal, visit https://www.lapee.dk/


ATTENTION PLUMBERS AND PLUMBING INSPECTORS

We are looking for instructors and presenters to help us grow our plumbing school. If you are a UPC plumber, have experience working with Fire Sprinkler Systems or have ideas for plumber courses, we want to hear from you. 

Benefits to becoming part of our instructor/presenter team

  • Opportunity to create course materials or simply present materials we have created.
  • Option for bulk payment or passive income
  • Nationwide name recognition in your field
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