It’s just a pesky drip, but over a long period of time, that small drip can end up being a big drain, both financially and in terms of water lost. While fixing a leak is always a good idea, there’s no better time than during National Fix a Leak Week, scheduled March 20-26.
Small leaks here and there add up and make a significant impact in terms of water lost. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that household leaks can waste more than 1 trillion gallons of water each year. That 1 trillion gallons is equal to the amount of water used in a year in more than 11 million homes. The EPA further estimates that the average home leak can result in water loss of more than 10,000 gallons – or about the same amount of water needed to wash 270 loads of laundry.
The EPA estimates that about 10 percent of all US homes have water leaks causing a loss of 90 gallons or more a day – an amount that could have a significant impact on water bills. One way to check for leaks is to watch your water meter when no water is being used inside your home. If the reading on the meter changes, it’s likely that you have a leak.
It doesn’t take much expertise to take care of the most common household leaks – toilet flaps, dripping faucets and leaking valves, according to the EPA’s WaterSense website, which notes that only a few tools are needed for those small projects. There are many online guides available on websites such as YouTube that show a step-by-step process for making small repairs.
If you are uncomfortable doing those types of fixes, or if the problem seems larger than you can easily handle, hiring a handyman might result in some cost now, but can provide big savings long-term.
One of the first areas to investigate if you suspect a water leak is the toilet. Often, the cause of the leak is a worn out flapper, which is an easy fix. One way you can determine if there is a leak is to place a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If you see the color in the toilet bowl within 10 minutes without flushing, you have a leak. You should not let the coloring sit in the tank very long, as it can cause stains.
The EPA’s WaterSense website notes that a leaky faucet that drips once per second can waste 3,000 gallons or more water in a year – or the equivalent of 180 showers. A slow leak in a showerhead, meanwhile, can waste 500 gallons of water in a year, or the same amount of water used to run a dishwasher 60 times.
Many leaky faucets can be fixed by using pipe tape and a wrench.
In addition to indoor leaks, you may be losing water outside. The EPA recommends that those who have an in-ground irrigation do a system check before turning the automated system in the spring – especially after cold winters. You can also have the system inspected by a licensed professional if you suspect there are leaks.
For more information on fixing leaks as well as links to “how-to” videos go here.