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National Fix a Leak Week – March 19-25, 2018

Did you know that household leaks can waste more than 1 trillion gallons of water annually nationwide? The average household leak can account for more than 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year and ten percent of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more a day! Typically, these leaks are easy to fix and will not cost you an arm and a leg. A quick trip to the hardware store can help you save money by fixing those minor leaks in your home.

To check for leaks in your home, you first need to determine whether you’re wasting water and then identify the source of the leak. Here are some tips for finding leaks:

  • Take a look at your water usage during a colder month. If a family of four exceeds 12,000 gallons per month, there are serious leaks.
  • Check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter changes at all, you probably have a leak.
  • Identify toilet leaks by placing a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If any color shows up in the bowl after 10 minutes, you have a leak. (Be sure to flush immediately after the experiment to avoid staining the tank!)
  • Examine faucet gaskets and pipe fitting for any water on the outside of the pipe to check for surface leaks.
  • Here are a few video links that you might find helpful in finding and fixing leaks

Common Household Leaks

Toilet Leaks

Old or worn-out toilet flappers can cause leaks. Flappers are inexpensive rubber parts that can build up minerals or decay over time. Replacing them can be a quick and easy fix in your home. To fix this leak, consult your local hardware store, home improvement retailer, or licensed plumber. Tip: Bring the old flapper to the hardware store for comparison to make sure you buy a new flapper that fits your toilet model.

Faucet Leaks

Old and worn faucet washers and gaskets frequently cause leaks in faucets. A leaky faucet that drips at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year! That’s the amount of water needed to take more than 180 showers! Many tutorials are available online for how to fix a wide variety of faucets. Tips: Don’t forget to turn off the water line before you start taking apart pipes!

Showerhead Leaks

A showerhead leaking at 10 drips per minute wastes more than 500 gallons per year. That’s the amount of water it takes to wash 60 loads of dishes in your dishwasher! Some leaky showerheads can be fixed by making sure there is a tight connection between the showerhead and the pipe stem and by using pipe tape to secure it. Pipe tape, also called Teflon tape, is available at most hardware stores, is easy to apply, and can help control leaks. For more complicated valve leaks in the showers that drip when not in use, contact an experienced handyperson or licensed plumber. Tip: It’s also a good idea to check and, if needed, replace the washer or “o” ring inside the showerhead while making this repair. 

Outdoor Leaks

If you have an in-ground irrigation system, check it each spring before use to make sure it wasn’t damaged by frost or freezing. You may need to hire a professional to assit with these repairs. Tip: Don’t forget garden hoses! Check your garden hose for leaks at its connection to the spigot. If it leaks while you run your hose, replace the nylon or rubber hose washer and ensure a tight connection to the spigot using pipe tape and a wrench. 


Information for this post came from WaterSense. For more information, please visit their website.


Mark Lovett

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