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MIKE HOLMES: We need to salute plumbers everywhere

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St. Patrick's Day seems to be the main event in March. But how many people know about World Plumbing Day? It's in March too -- on March 11 every year. But it always seems to go under the radar. Why? For one, not many people know about it. And two, not many people care. If you don't care, you should, because imagine: how fun would St. Patrick's Day be if the toilets stopped working?

Plumbing is one of those things that people don't appreciate until it's not working properly. Anyone who has ever had the water shut off in their building or in their neighbourhood knows this. You can't flush the toilet, wash your hands, wash your clothes, do the dishes, take a shower, cook, etc.

Or how many times has a broken water main paralyzed an entire section of a city? When you notice these things you start to understand how important plumbing is just to keep everyday life going. And when natural disasters -- such as a flood or earthquake -- compromise the plumbing system, we quickly learn just how important plumbing really is. Just look at Haiti and Japan.

The 2010 earthquake in Haiti left different areas in the country in ruins. The 2011 tsunami caused much of the same destruction in Japan. In both cases, people wanted to rebuild immediately. But before any of that can start, plumbing and sanitation systems need to be restored.

Plumbing does two things: provides access to clean water and supports a proper sanitation system. These are two basic functions that are fundamental to modern living.

Most of the problems in Haiti that people continue to face today are a direct result of not having proper plumbing. That includes water-related diseases and problems that stem from not having a functioning sanitation system.

Millions of people die every year from water-related diseases. The World Health Organization says 3.1 million children die each year from water-related diseases. That's one child every 15 seconds! A lot of these diseases are preventable if people only had access to clean water and proper sanitation systems, essentially, basic plumbing.

Construction can't start until a sanitation system is in place and is working. Otherwise, you risk the health of any workers and trades. Plus, what good is a house or building if people are getting sick and dying because of a poor plumbing system in the area? That's why plumbing comes first and building comes second.

World Plumbing Day is about paying our respects to a trade that plays a big part in our lives. Because the truth is plumbing is about more than just fixing leaks and low water pressure. World Plumbing Day reminds the work of a good plumber is essential to public health and the environment. We should salute these heroes.

In the spirit of World Plumbing Day, there are a few things you can do:

* Call in a licensed plumber to test your water pressure and check your plumbing. The average home can lose 7,500 to 75,000 litres of water due to leaks.

* When you can, use a broom to clean your driveway. Using a garden hose can waste up to 50 litres of water every minute.

* Install low-flow bathroom fixtures, including toilets and shower heads.

* Use a hose nozzle when you wash your car. This can save close to 380 litres of water every time you wash your car.

* Practise grey-water recycling for your home. Grey water is 'used' water that comes from sinks and drains, as well as reclaimed rainwater. The water is then treated and filtered. You can use grey water to flush toilets, water the lawn, wash the car and do laundry. But it can't be used for drinking, showering or bathing.

Check out to learn more about World Plumbing Day and what you can do to make it right.

-- Postmedia News

Catch Mike Holmes in his new series, Holmes Makes It Right Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on HGTV. For more information, visit For more information on home renovations, visit


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 30, 2013 F2

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