How to Install Low-Flow Water Fixtures

6 steps to save water and the planet with conservation-friendly faucets and showerheads

Installing low-flow water fixtures has become a popular method of reducing water consumption because they regulate the amount of water that is dispersed when a faucet or shower is turned on. By cutting back on that flow, these water fixtures will also help cut back on your water bill. If you share a house with lots of other people, you already know how expensive the water bills can become.

There are two basic variations on installing low-flow water fixtures: What you can do yourself and those things you should call in a professional to do. If you are considering making a major upgrade of your toilet, tub spigot or bidet, you should considering bringing in a professional handyman or plumber to complete the job. But swapping out showerheads or kitchen faucets is a perfect DIY project. The new generation of faucets incorporate an aerator design that compresses the flow of water, providing a stronger stream. The result is you actually decrease on the amount of time you run the water.

These easy-to-follow are provided by Earth Easy, a website founded by Greg Seaman, a green-lifestyle advocate, to promote sustainable living.

Step 1: Assess your situation

If you already have aerators installed, then they should have a gallons per minute rate (gpm) printed on the side. Ideally, your water fixtures should be providing 2.75 gpm or lower for kitchen and bathroom faucets. To assess shower water flow, place a 2-quart saucepan in the tub and turn the water on full blast. If it takes less than 12 seconds to fill up, it might be time to swap out your showerhead for a low-flow water fixture.

Step 2: Unscrew the current plumbing fixtures

To begin replacing your showerhead, simply turn off the water and unscrew it. Before you begin replacing a sink faucet, however, you should shut off the water flow valve located under the sink. This will prevent unnecessary leaks. Proceed to unscrew the current faucet. This can be accomplished with an adjustable wrench. It might take a little effort, but you should be able to remove the plumbing fixtures easily. Gather your fixtures together to take to the hardware store and compare with your desired low-flow water fixtures to make sure the sizes will be compatible with your plumbing.

Step 3: Shop and compare at the hardware store

With your old water fixtures in hand, shop and compare the various options available for showerheads and faucets. There will be many varieties to choose from; be sure to ask for recommendations to aid in making your selection.

Step 4: Apply a single layer of white plumbing tape

While you're at the hardware store, pick up some plumbing tape. When you get home with your new low-flow water fixtures, apply a layer of the plumbing tape to the thread of the pipe before attaching your new fixture.

Step 5: Put in the rubber washer and screw on

Your new plumbing fixtures will come with rubber washers that go inside the thread to seal and prevent leaks. Insert the rubber washer and screw on the water fixture by hand and tighten.

Step 6: Run a water test

If you shut off your water valve to replace your faucet, now's the time to turn it back on. Then, turn on your faucet or showerhead. If there is a leak, tighten the fixtures with your wrench. If not you’re good to go.

When you upgrade your plumbing with the right low-flow water fixtures, you probably won’t notice any real difference until the water bill comes. Then you’ll be thankful for all the extra savings.

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