Berkey Filters Blog
Keep your drains flowing free
by Jerry Alonzy
Part 2 – Solving common drain problems
As we learned in Part 1 of this article, each drain in your home has special characteristics designed to minimize the chance of a blockage, while allowing maximum water flow. For example, some have reduced or restricted openings to keep small items out (such as coins or wedding rings). Toilets have the least restriction on flow, which I think you’ll agree needs no further explanation!
But, despite the designer’s best efforts, all drains have design flaws that can make blockages more likely. Likewise, small behavioral changes on your part can either limit or eliminate the chance of expensive plumbing calls!
I am going to discuss the simplest methods of repairing common blockages. I will not be discussing plumbing snakes, which would be an article in and of itself; but can be needed if these do-it-yourself methods fail.
Blockages caused by “acts of nature,” such as roots growing into your sewer pipes or earthquakes, are out of your control, but most other blockages are repairable by the home handyman. Here are some do-it-yourself tips to keep your drains flowing. Read more »
Image via Katherine Johnson (Flickr)
9 Ways to Drink More Water
You need to drink more water! You need to drink more water! Are you tired of hearing that? I know; I am, too. The problem is you probably do need to drink more water. Statistics show that 75 percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated. That’s a large number of people who are not drinking enough water. I’ve talked about how dangerous dehydration can be in previous posts. Now, I’m going to give you nine tips to ensure that you drink more water and do not fall within that 75 percent.
Tip #1 – Substitute other drinks with water. I know that this won’t be a very popular tip, but instead of having that soda with lunch, drink water. Make water your beverage of choice, and replace soda, tea, coffee, and alcohol with a glass of water instead. Your body needs the water. It doesn’t need the sugary soda. Read more »
Keep Your Drains Flowing Free
By Jerry Alonzy
Part 1 – Understanding how your drains work
We talk a lot about water quality and its relationship to health, but the fact is that only half of plumbing is water coming in. The other half is water going out, via your home’s drain or waste water system.
Plumbing drains seem simple and I guess they are to those of us who have had their benefits for our entire lives. But your home’s drain pipes are not randomly placed… they follow design principles that have been in place for hundreds of years, ever since the recognition that gravity controls the movement of water!
A waste water drain system (regardless of the material it’s made from) must incorporate certain characteristics to function safely and effectively:
1) All drain pipes must slope downwards over their entire length. The slope must be steep enough so that waste-filled water will flow in the desired direction at adequate speed to allow all waste material to exit into the sewer or septic system.
If even a small section of drain pipe is level or, worse, sloped upwards, it will both slow the emptying of the pipe and become a “trap” where waste will tend to accumulate, leading to a blockage over time. Read more »
Marathon runners can become ill from drinking too much water while running.Image via Andrew Malone (Flickr)
In my last blog post, I discussed in detail the importance of drinking water. Keeping yourself adequately hydrated is critical to your health, but just as too little water can be deadly, so can too much. It’s important to stay hydrated without going overboard and oversaturating your system with water. Although rare, in some cases, people actually do suffer from water intoxication. The scientific term for this is hyponatremia. Drinking too much water can imbalance your electrolytes just as drinking too little water can, and either way, you can become ill and even die.
Why Too Much Water Is Bad
Hyponatremia means that you do not have a sufficient amount of salt in your system. We constantly hear that too much sodium is a bad thing, and it is, but too little sodium can also be a health risk. Your body needs both water and salt to function properly, and too little or too much of either can cause serious health complications. Normally, your body should have 135 to 145 millimoles of sodium per liter of blood. If that amount is reduced from drinking too much water, you will find yourself fatigued, suffering from nausea and vomiting, frequently urinating, and enduring a headache alongside mental disorientation. Read more »
Infants are particularly prone to dehydration, so it’s important that they drink plenty of water.Image via Henry Burrows (Flickr)
Why It’s Important to Drink Water
Often, the image of dehydration is depicted in humorous ways: cartoon characters crawling through the desert, a party at an oasis, people surfing sand waves. Truthfully, dehydration is deadly. We need water more than we need anything else to survive, and most people do not drink enough water. I’m hoping that if you’re one of those people, you’ll read on to learn why it’s so important to your body to drink water.
Our bodies’ own physiology backs up the importance of drinking water. If you go back to your science classes in school, you’ll probably remember that water is the key to life. Nothing on earth survives without water, including humans. Our bodies need water, and here are some basic facts behind the reasons why: Read more »
Tap Water vs. Bottled Water… What’s the Real Story?
Those of us who have lived in areas with clean smelling, pure well water are sometimes shocked at the pungent odor of chlorine in city water. When I was young, we never really thought about the water we were drinking and if someone asked for a glass of water, we ran over to the kitchen faucet and filled a cup.
Over the years, though, a mix of sales propaganda, scare tactics and a pinch of reality have thoroughly indoctrinated us into thinking that bottled water is the better choice, a cure for our water ills. Is it? Or have we been hoodwinked? If so, at what cost? You’ll be amazed!
According to a ConsumerReports.org investigation, the difference in cost between drinking tap water vs. bottled water is staggering. Assuming you purchased one bottle of water per day at a cost of $1.00 instead of drinking average priced tap water, you would spend $346 over the year. (This assumes you returned the bottles for the 5 cent deposit.) Read more »
Rocks are part of the earth’s natural water filtration process.
Image via David Spinks (Flickr)
The Process of Water Filtration
There is nothing better than a cold, refreshing drink of naturally filtered spring water. If you’ve ever been hiking and filled your canteen with mountain spring water, you know what I’m talking about! Americans spent $11.8 billion dollars on bottled water in 2012 in an effort to enjoy “natural spring water.” The problem is that most of that bottled water was just municipal water poured into a bottle and marketed cleverly. How can you get fresh filtered water at home without breaking the bank (and being fooled)? Let’s look at the process of water filtration for the answer.
Natural Water Filtration
I’m going to begin by explaining how natural spring water is filtered and why it tastes so darn good! You might be thinking that the water out of that mountain spring is brand new, but it’s been around for a while. You see, the earth’s water supply is several million years old. It is just recirculated through the process of absorption, evaporation, and rainfall. You’ve been using the same water your ancestors used, and your great-great-great-grandchildren will be using the same water you use.
The earth is our water’s natural filter. As water falls to the ground or runs in a stream, it flows through layers of dirt, gravel, and sand. It is these layers of the earth’s natural sediments that filter the spring water you scoop up into your hand to quench your thirst while backpacking. This natural water filtration only works in natural areas, however, such as the earth’s desserts, forests, and wetlands. When rainwater falls in the city, something different happens. Read more »
Nope! Not better for you!
Image via Steven Depolo (Flickr)
5 Busted Myths About Water
Television shows such as MythBusters have encouraged our natural curiosity in a good way. Throughout our lives, we hear all kinds of myths, old wives’ tales, whatever you want to call them, and sometimes, it’s hard to decipher fact from fiction. Well, I’m a water expert, and I’m here to help you debunk some of the myths you’ve heard about H2O. Do you believe that bottled water is better for you? Think again!
Myth #1 - Bottled Water Is Better for You Than Tap Water
Let me just debunk my intro-teaser right off the bat. Bottled water is not better for you than tap water, not even the costly “enhanced” bottled waters. A majority of bottled water is treated tap water thrown into a bottle and sold at ridiculous prices. Additionally, the bottles in which the water is stored are hazardous to your health and our environment; they contain BPA, which is a possible carcinogen, and they are not biodegradable. Finally, unless you’re running a marathon, you do not need to drink “enhanced” water. In fact, placing electrolytes into your body when you don’t need them can cause serious health complications. Bottled water is not better for you than tap water.
Myth #2 - Tap Water Is Perfectly Safe Read more »
Shopping carts aren’t the only metal lurking in your water supply. Image via Brian Smithson (Flickr)
Heavy Metal Pollution in the Water Supply
Heavy metal means different things to different people. There are heavy metal elements, heavy metal music, heavy metal artillery, and heavy metal auto, truck, or radio-controlled-whatever competitions. What does heavy metal mean to me? Well, I do like a hard-rocking song now and again, but heavy metal means water pollution to me. Heavy metal elements contribute to heavy metal pollution in our water supplies, and as with any type of water pollution, we need to be concerned about it!
Heavy Metals Found in Water
The types of heavy metals most commonly found in our water supplies are arsenic, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, selenium, and zinc. You probably recognize that some of these metals are bad, such as arsenic and lead, and others are included in your daily multivitamin, such as copper and zinc. Too much exposure to any of them is not healthy, but I’ll explain more about that below. Right now, let me give you a brief rundown of each metal so you know what you’re dealing with: Read more »
Know Your Well… and it will Serve You Well!
It is said that a person can live for weeks without food, but only a matter of days without water. Indeed, civilizations flourish only where there is abundant, clean water. Without it, there are no crops, no livestock, decreased personal hygiene (bath, anyone?)… Essentially little hope for the long, healthy, comfortable life we desire for ourselves and our children.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), approximately 15% of Americans are “off the grid” when it comes to obtaining water for their homes, detached from public supplies. And, though there is some value in schemes, such as collecting rainwater in barrels or drawing water from nearby ponds or rivers, the most reliable source of non-public water available to most people is the underground well. Read more »