Use Water Wisely
Saving water helps everyone and ensures this precious resource for future generations. Here are ways you can save water in and around your home or business. Be Water Wise!
Check your faucets at home — do any of them drip? Maybe it’s just a small drip — how much water can a little drip waste? True, a single drip won’t waste that much water, but think about each faucet in your home dripping a little bit all day long. What if every faucet in every home on your block … in your town … in your state also dripped? The drips would add up to a flood of water wasted down the drain.
There is no scientific definition of the volume of a faucet drip, but after measuring a number of kitchen and bathroom sink faucets, for our calculations below (numbers are rounded), we are going to use 1/4 milliliter (ml) as the volume of a faucet drip. By these drip estimates:
- One gallon = 15,140 drips
- One liter = 4,000 drips
EPA Water Sense
We are pleased to partner with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to bring you WaterSense, a national program that offers people a simple way to make product choices that use less water and may perform as well or better than your existing products. Water efficient practices, products and services can help us work together to protect the future of our national and local water supply.
Did you know Americans use an average of 100 gallons of water each day?
That’s enough to fill 1,600 drinking glasses! While the population and the demand on freshwater resources are increasing, supply remains constant. With that in mind, we can all do our part in using water more efficiently. Moving water from a treatment plant to residents’ homes also utilizes energy. By reducing household water use we save water and reduce the energy required to distribute that water.
We encourage you to learn about the WaterSense program and how you can preserve water supplies for future generations, save on utility bills and protect the environment through quality, water-efficient products.
How To Check For Leaks
Every drop counts!
Your water meter may be located inside your home or in an exterior meter pit. If your meter is located in your home, here’s a simple process you can use to detect leaks within your premises.
Turn off all water inside and outside, making sure that no one uses water during the test period.
Locate the leak indicator on the meter, it usually appears as a red plastic indicator on your meter itself.
If the leak indicator is moving at all, there is a leak somewhere. *Please Note: * The customer is responsible for maintaining the interior plumbing system, including all pipes and plumbing fixtures. Be sure to contact a licensed plumber to fix leaks promptly.
Prevent Water Related Property Damage
Some water emergencies in the home–such as leaks and weather-related flooding–are preventable. Here are some ways you can prevent property damage from water.
- To prevent roof leaks, clean debris from your roof and gutters regularly, and repair any damage to the roof.
- Make sure that downspouts are pointed away from your home’s foundation.
- Check around and under appliances, such as the dishwasher and refrigerator, for signs of leaking water.
- Replace washing machine hoses every three to five years to prevent them from leaking.
- Check water heaters for rust, which may signal a problem. Make sure your water heater has a pan and drain under it. Most water heaters last 8 to 12 years, so if yours is that age, you should get it checked to make sure it is functioning properly.
- Check sink, ice machine, and dishwasher water lines for leaks and other damage or deterioration.
- Consider buying an automatic water valve shut-off device, to use in case of emergency.
- Remove garden hoses and turn off the water to exterior taps in the winter. If there is no exterior cut-off valve, insulate the tap.
Prepare for Water Emergencies
A water emergency is any event that disrupts the normal supply of clean water to your home. Water emergencies can be caused by:
Home emergencies, such as:
- Leaky pipes
- Frozen pipes
- Leaky appliances
Water system emergencies, such as:
- Chemical spills
- Broken water mains
- Power outages (which can affect pumping capacity)
- Failure of water storage tanks or other equipment
- Treatment plant breakdowns
- Water contamination
Natural disasters, such as:
- Storms and hurricanes
- Forest or brush fires
- High winds
The best way to avoid water emergencies is to be proactive in addressing water leaks and frozen pipes. It’s also advisable to pay attention to weather emergency announcements issued by your local officials.
Be Prepared! Create an Emergency Water Supply Plan for Your Family
Store at least 1 gallon of water per day for each person and each pet. You should consider storing more water than this for hot climates, for pregnant women, and for persons who are sick.
Store at least a 3-day supply of water for each person and each pet. Try to store a 2-week supply, if possible.
Observe the expiration date for store-bought water. Replace non-store bought water every 6 months.
Store a bottle of unscented liquid household chlorine bleach (label should say it contains between 5-6% and 8.25% of sodium hypochlorite) to disinfect your water, if necessary, and to use for general cleaning and sanitizing.
Locate Your Master Valve
Don’t wait until a water emergency to find the location of your master shut off valve. The master valve is probably the most important piece of your internal plumbing system. It controls the flow of water throughout your home. You and everyone in your household should know where it is and be able to locate it in a moment’s notice. In case of an emergency, you cannot afford to waste time searching for the valve. You must be able to locate and operate it immediately. If your property is going to be unoccupied for a long period of time, you might want to consider shutting the valve off to avoid or minimize any water emergencies during your absence. In addition, a plumber can drain your lines if the house will be subjected to below freezing temperatures.
- It is important to understand that different plumbing arrangements will dictate where the proper main supply valve is located:
- Some homes have the water meter located inside, while others are located outside, underground within a “pit” at or near the property line or right-of-way. Some homes also have submeters, they are typically inside even if the main meter is outside/underground. Newer homes have fire sprinkler systems, while older ones generally do not.
- Home construction also differs greatly; basements, crawl-spaces, and slab-on-grade.
- Water shut-off valves may have round whee- handles or lever handles.
Locating the Proper Valve
- Basements – the shut-off valve is typically located near the front foundation wall. The main water may have come through the concrete floor or through the wall. The valve is typically within 3-5 feet of where the main water enters. In some cases, the main water may enter in a different area, like a mechanical room, up through the floor, near the water heater or furnace.
- Crawl-space plus a basement – the shut-off valve may be where the water enters the basement or in some older homes, the shut-off may be inside the crawl space. If the latter is true, you may want to consider a secondary valve located in the basement.
- Crawl-space with no basement – the shut off valve will typically be located near the water heater or under the kitchen sink, but anywhere is possible. It may be inside the crawl-space; in which case, you may want to consider a secondary valve located up in the living space (near the water heater or under a sink).
- Slab-on-grade construction – the shut-off valve will typically be located near the water heater or under the kitchen sink, but anywhere is possible.
Choosing the Proper Valve to Operate
Once you have found the master valve, confirm that it is the correct valve by shutting it off to see if all the water faucets in your home also shut off. If they do not, resume your search.
When you find the right valve, make it more visible by marking it with a brightly colored tag, ribbon or paint so that you, or anyone else, can find it easily during an emergency.
Closing the Main Valve (Close/Turn-off)
- Hand turn the valve (clockwise for gate valves and perpendicular to the pipe for ball valves) or use the appropriate tool depending on the design.
- Open a tub or sink faucet (hot & cold) on the highest level to relieve pressure and watch that spout to ensure a full shut-down. Then continue to open faucets throughout the home to drain-down as needed.
- If draining down home, be sure to de-energize the water heater and boiler where applicable by shutting off power to electric water heaters and any type of boiler. For gas water heaters, turn thermostat down to the pilot only setting; if you drain the heater, shut off the gas.
WARNING: Old water valves can be damaged and corroded. Only use your hand to turn your water valves on or off. If you cannot do it by hand, call a professional licensed plumber.
Opening the Main Valve (Open/Turn-on)
- Close all faucets except a tub or sink on the highest level.
- Partially turn-on valves slowly; extra slow for lever handles; stop after ½ revolution on wheel handle, ½ of a ¼ turn for lever handle; with water flowing, slowly turn-off highest open faucet.
- Listen for water pressure to equalize (noise ends); fully open main valve. Bleed air from lines by slowly opening (hot and cold) on all faucets, one at a time, until air stops flowing, then close each faucet; move to all others until complete.
- Only turn power on to electric water heaters and boilers after the water system is full and all air has been bled-out. If gas was turned-off, carefully following re-starting direction on the appliance jacket or call a licensed plumber or your gas company for service.
Protect Your Pipes from Freezing
Freezing weather can take its toll on you and your home but you can act now to reduce cold weather threats. Middlesex Water Company is reminding customers to take preventive measures before winter sets in – to protect water lines which can freeze, expand and possibly burst, causing flooding and costly water damage to your home and belongings.
Before Freezing Weather Sets In:
- Disconnect, drain and store outdoor hoses: Be sure to turn off the water to outside faucets, remove hoses and allow water to drain from the pipe. A single hard, overnight freeze can increase pressure throughout the entire plumbing system bursting either the faucet or the pipe it’s connected to.
- Insulate pipes in unheated areas: Some pipes may be more likely to freeze than others because of their location in the home. Wrap exposed water pipes in unheated areas such as crawl spaces, attics and garages with insulating material available at hardware and plumbing stores. Be sure to focus on pipes that are located on outside walls and near crawl space openings and vents because they are most vulnerable to freezing.
- Seal off access doors, air vents and cracks: Plug up drafty cracks and repair broken basement windows. Cold winter winds whistling through cracks and openings can quickly freeze exposed water pipes. Be sure not to plug up air vents that your furnace or hot water heater may need for good combustion.
- Identify and tag your main shut-off valve: Be sure all members of your household know where the main water shut-off valve is located. This valve is typically located in the basement or laundry room of the home. Be prepared to turn the valve off should a water line burst.
- Leaving homes unattended in winter: If you will be leaving your home vacant and unheated for an extended period of time in winter, you may also want to consider turning off your main shut-off valve, the water heater and draining the system by letting faucets run and flushing toilets and shutting off fixtures before leaving. Furnaces should be set no lower than 55 degrees if houses are left vacant for extended time in winter.
During Freezing Weather:
Do not keep crawl space, basement or garage doors open during cold periods. The cold air could freeze exposed pipes.
If you are unable to insulate your pipes that have frozen in past winters – particularly on sub-zero nights or periods of low usage – you may want to keep a trickle of water running from any faucet that will cause water to flow through the problem section of the pipe. Be sure to keep the drain clear of obstructions to prevent the basin from overflowing. While you will be billed for the water used, this procedure is using a minimal amount of water and may prevent more costly plumbing repairs and water loss caused by broken pipes.
Beware of Utility Impostors
Your safety is important to us! Always check for company identification before allowing a water company representative into your home. All of our service representatives are required to wear a uniform and/or an ID badge so you can quickly and easily identify them. Our vehicles are also distinctively marked with our company logos. Our policies call for home visits to be scheduled in advance with customers.
We urge all customers to be on the alert for imposters posing as company representatives. Call us to verify the authenticity of the water utility representative before you let them in. Additionally, anyone fearing for their safety should call 911. Please report suspicious activities involving our company representatives or impersonators to our Customer Service Department.
Know What’s Below: Call Before You Dig!
Building a deck? Planting a tree? Installing a mailbox? A federally-mandated national “Call Before You Dig” number, 811, was created to help protect you from unintentionally hitting underground utility lines while working on digging projects.
When you call the 811 number, your call will be routed to your Local One Call Center. Your Local One Call Center operator will ask you for the location of your digging job and route your call to affected utility companies. Your utility companies will then send a professional locator to your location to mark your lines within a few days. Once your underground lines have been marked, you will know the approximate location of your utility lines and can dig safely, because knowing what’s below protects you and your family.
New Jersey Law requires anyone digging to call at least three full business days (not counting weekends or holidays), prior beginning work. This includes professional excavators as well as property and home owners contractors.
Call New Jersey One Call at 811 or 800-272-1000
any time of the day or night.
It’s FREE and it’s the LAW.