The Simplest Ways to Make the Best of Irrigation Systems

Your garden or landscaping will flourish with the help of an irrigation system, but what are the differences between the different types of systems?

Stream irrigation – if you have a nearby stream it is possible to pump the water from the stream and use this natural water supply – first check with local conservation laws to see if this is legal in your area and decide whether you are looking for a short term or long term solution. This can be a costly solution.

Spray irrigation – pressurized water is sprayed over plants also called sprinkler irrigation. This is probably the most widely used solution with a home sprinkler system. It can be a fairly simple solution or a much more complicated system of rotating sprinkler heads. The disadvantage of this system is that it uses a lot of water.

Drip irrigation – this solution is both inexpensive and uses the least amount of water. You can have a direct connection to your hose without having to cut into the home water line. Supply lines can simply lie on the ground or lie under a layer of mulch. This is a flexible system with exact delivery of water, which prevents over-watering.

Depending on your home and garden/landscaping needs, you should be able to find a cost-effective solution that does not use a lot of water.

Do You Need to Get a Water Softener?

If you have hard water, you probably do need a water softener, or one of the options for softening your water. Hard water is caused from calcium, magnesium and other minerals being present in your water. The calcium, magnesium and minerals come from the ground and can become scale, which will build up and eventually clog your plumbing pipes. Minerals in hard water will affect your laundry detergent and dish washing detergent, keeping detergent from lathering and leaving soap scum.

There are a couple of options to soften your water:

A water softener adds sodium to soften the water using an ion exchange resin where hardness ions (calcium, magnesium) are exchanged for sodium ions. The water softener adds approximately 12.5 mg of sodium in an 8 ounce glass of water, which is well within the FDA definition of very low sodium. However, if you are on a sodium-restricted diet, you may want to consider use of a reverse osmosis system.

A reverse osmosis system uses water pressure across a special membrane. The membrane allows water molecules to pass through but the hardness ions remain and are flushed away by excess water. Membranes need to be replaced regularly.

Whatever option you choose, make sure you have a water softening system to avoid problems with your pipes.

Doing Fountains the Right Way

Flowing water, relaxation, meditation – what could be more serene and beautiful? A fountain can add so much to the décor of your garden, backyard or home. First select the type of fountain: a table fountain, a garden fountain, floor fountain or a wall fountain. Next, it is very important to have the proper backing or support for your fountain, as many fountains are made of ceramic or stone and once they are filled with water, they can be very heavy.

You will want to make sure that you have the proper reservoir, pump, and filter box for the proper circulation of the water in the fountain. Placement of the fountain is also important due to light/shadow and sun exposure. Make sure that the ground is level around the fountain.

After the fountain itself is installed, you can add decorative rock, plants and vegetation to complete your area of relaxation.

The Beginner’s Guide to Swimming Pools

Once you decide to install a swimming pool, you will need to decide whether you would rather install and above ground pool or an in ground pool. There are many options, depending on what you are looking for:

  • In ground pool – generally adds value to your home, especially if you are in a warm climate, though this is the more expensive option. Pools are made of either concrete, vinyl or fiberglass.
  • Above ground pool – less expensive and easier to install, but does not add to the value or your home.

Regardless of the type of pool you select, you will have additional costs of increased use of water, chemicals, and heating systems. Swimming pools require water, sewer and electric lines, and possibly permits for installation.

Make sure you have a professional plumber install your pool, ensuring that you have proper water circulation through the filtering system with two or more drains at the bottom and multiple drains at the top of the pool. Water is pumped though a filtering system and back out to the returns.

Once your installation is complete – enjoy!

How to Start Using Drain Tile Systems

Drain tiles were first used in agriculture to keep farm fields from becoming saturated during heavy rains or to direct water flow as part of an irrigation system. Drain tiles can direct water away from an area or to an area, depending on your needs.

In the same way, drain tiles can be used in your yard to keep water from pooling or to drain water away from your home. In some cases French Drain Systems can be used outside of your home. Many times these are installed at the time of construction due to the extensive work for the installation – clearing the perimeter of the home, heaping the dirt around the home, installing a bed of rock and sometimes a filter fabric. This is covered with the dirt that is heaped around the home.   This is very labor intensive and at times the drain system can become clogged.

Depending on your water issue, you may opt to install a basement dewatering system in the basement itself. This may be more reliable and less expensive to install.

Make sure you get all of your questions and concerns addressed before you make your decision.

Heavy Rains and Your Septic Tank

Think of the people in the North East – first up to six feet of snow, followed by heavy rains this November. What a start to the winter and it isn’t even officially winter yet!

Heavy rains can cause damage to your septic system. Once the ground around your septic system becomes saturated the water from your home has no place to go and the end result may be drains not draining, toilets backing up or making noises like “burps” and the worst case scenario, standing water that may contain untreated sewage.

Though there is not a lot that you can do about the rain, there are some things that you can do to avoid damage to your septic system:

  • Make sure the gutters on your home drain away from the septic system
  • Plant grass above the septic system and nothing else
  • Make sure that the water around your system has some place to go – that it will run off and not toward the septic system
  • Make sure that your septic system is pumped every 3-5 years

With any luck and with some preparation you should not experience any of the issues with your septic system due to heavy rains.

Remodel Your Laundry Room

With all of the new options for storage and organization you can really change your laundry room into a newly organized place that may even make doing laundry fun!

If your current laundry room is too small and/or if you have options to expand or relocate your room, these are the essentials for a laundry room:

  • Hot and cold water
  • Locate water supply and drain lines
  • Drain hose that goes to sink or standpipe

Then research the options to create what you like – a table for folding, bins for sorting, an ironing board and/or steamer. You may want to have shelves or cabinets for laundry supplies and maybe a drying rack for sweaters. Add an anti-fatigue mat near the folding table and you may actually look forward to your next load of laundry!

Dealing With Wet Basements

Having a wet basement is no fun and can lead to some serious damage to your home over time. Dampness if not removed can ruin floors, walls and can cause the growth of mold in your home. There are some things you can do, however, to prevent water in your basement:

  • First, inspect the outside of your home. See if there is any place that slopes down toward your home. You will want to direct any flow of water away from your home with gutter extensions or by building up the areas near the basement.
  • You can install a sump pump – if your basement does not have any drain pipes under the basement designed to handle rainwater you will need to dig a hole at the low point of the basement and install a perforated pit liner. If you already have rainwater drain pipes there is probably already a pit in place.
  • Add a dehumidifier – this can dry out a wet basement after flooding or just eliminate dampness in the air.

Once you have the systems in place to address a wet basement there is very little to maintain. You may want to add a rechargeable battery backup unit or a sump pump failure alarm for extra insurance.

The Evolution of Plumbing Pipes

Before the 1960’s most homes had steel galvanized water pipes. These are the gray metal water pipes that were connected together. These pipes were very durable, lasting for many years. The downside to using these pipes was they would leaks over time or start to get sediment build up.

Around the 1960’s copper pipes were introduced. Copper pipes were resistant to corrosion and increased temperatures, but they may split if water freezes in the pipe. Copper pipes are very expensive and thefts from construction sites have occurred due to this costly material.

Today most water pipes are PVC pipes (polyvinyl chloride). These pipes are made from a combination of vinyl and plastic material. PVC pipes are more flexible, are easy to install and are affordable. Most of the time PVC pipes are used for water systems, sewer lines or underground cable.

The good news today is, depending on your requirements, it is not difficult to find a reasonably priced solution that will meet your needs and will last for years to come.

Going Green Around the House

It seems like everyone is going green these days, which makes it so much easier now to keep your home safe and green with all of the new products out there. A lot of people want to avoid using harsh chemicals on their countertops and regularly used surfaces, especially if there are kids involved. Using green products can be not only good for the environment, but healthier and safer options for your family.

If you haven’t already switched over to the green side, there are several reasons to consider doing so immediately. For one, the chemicals may not be entirely regulated. There are an incredibly large amount of chemicals that are not approved by the EPA, and it’s very possible that they are included in the regular products you use to clean your home. Some of these products include chlorine, ammonia, and sodium hydroxide. All of these are potentially harmful and should probably be taken out of your cleaning product supply.

In addition to keeping your home safer by switching to green products, you are also keeping our precious water supply safe! Chemicals like ammonia and petroleum in things like detergent or cleaners for the toilet get sent back into the water systems, and therefore into the nearby water sources.

Some sprays and aerosols can contain some pretty harmful compounds that may have short- and long-term effects on your health! They can affect the central nervous system or kidneys. Having it in the air just has it in the air longer for you and your family to breathe in and put into your bodily systems.

It’s a smart choice for the safety of the environment and your family to switch to green cleaning products. Always take a look at the ingredients in your everyday cleaning products to make sure your household is kept safe and clean!