Residential Space A creative outlet during residency, turned ongoing virtual soap box

The tub now drains!!  1

Posted on June 25th, 2009. About Conservation.

…and I did not have to use Drain-O or another toxic chemical formula to do it. Check this out.

The water had been draining more slowly by the day, troubling me as I faced the decision: living near Puget Sound, home to whales, salmon, and other amazing wildlife, did I really feel right about pouring toxic chemicals down my drain to clear the blockage? I have in the past, but the four years of living in Seattle had finally gotten to me – the guilt was too much. Surely there was a way to clear this in a non-offensive way.

I went to the internet for advice. Universally, sites encouraged me to clear the blockage mechanically. I unscrewed the plug in the tub to find grating beneath it, and yes – there was a lot of gross stuff that I will not describe, but definitely a proximal blockage. I tried bending a coat hanger to get through the metal slats to break it up and dislodge it, but I only retrieved about 20% of it. I thought maybe I had destabilized it, and perhaps it would clear now just with water. After running water through it, things still drained slowly, and nothing budged.

Next, a website suggested something interesting – pouring 1/2 cup baking soda down there, waiting 15 minutes, and adding 1/2 cup vinegar. Hmmm…okay, I thought, picturing the experiment in fifth grade with the volcano “erupting” as a result of this chemical reaction. BUT IT WORKED. After giving the reaction a few minutes to work, I then poured water down the drain, and it very rapidly disappeared. Mission accomplished. And two months later, the drain is still beautifully clear!

True Green Home  1

Posted on June 25th, 2009. About Conservation.

I just finished the brief book/monograph, True Green Home: 100 Inspirational Ideas for Creating a Green Environment at Home. It included some interesting points about how to conserve environmental resources (ie, energy, water) at home in daily life. Some points I had not previously considered:

  • The concept of “gray water” and reusing it around the home. The idea is to take water that has been “used” (ie, shower or bath water) that should not be used for drinking water, but can potentially be reused for purposes where perfect water is not required, such as watering a garden or yard, or recirculating it to the toilet for flushing. Redirecting this water seems reasonable from a conservation standpoint.
  • Unplugging electronic devices when leaving for a prolonged period – ie, unplugging digital clocks, computers that may be in standby mode, etc. The authors go further to say that, when leaving for a vacation, empty the fridge, unplug it and leave the door slightly ajar. I don’t think they are implying that we should throw away perfectly good food to do this, but perhaps over a 1-2 week period prior to leaving for a trip, consuming the food in the fridge such that it would become empty as one is leaving town. It is quoted in the book that a fridge with a freezer uses ~1,800 kWh/year (an average family uses ~11,000 kWh/year – so the fridge consumes a significant amount of a family’s household energy). Other tips for reducing the fridge’s energy use include keeping the coils behind it clear of dust and debris for more efficient cooling, making sure the temperature setting in the fridge is not so cold that temperatures are near-freezing, and ensuring that the door seals properly when shut.
  • According to the authors, a typical bath uses ~70 gallons of water, versus 20 gallons for a shower. Just thinking about these numbers, if one switches from a daily bath to a daily shower, the amount of water saved totals 18,250 gallons.

Anyway, an interesting and quick read with many bullet points about being a better environmental steward in the home.

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