From: Robin Blackstone, ENN
Published March 20, 2014 10:59 AM

Fix-a-Leak Week

According to WaterSense, an Environmental Protection Agency Partnership Program, household leaks waste more than a trillion gallons of water annually. Our urgency to conserve often depends upon what part of the country we live. But officials predict that at least 36 states that will experience some sort of water shortage.



WaterSense therefore has issued a challenge to each homeowner to save 10,000 gallons of water, the equivalent of 270 loads of laundry, in just ten minutes by finding and fixing a leak. The first step in the process is to check for leaks. Common types of leaks are worn toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and leaking valves. Many are easily corrected and can be done without hiring a professional. 

Use this easy four-step checklist to determine if you have leaks.

Review the water bill for one of the colder months when you are unlikely to be using water outside. A typical family of four should not exceed 12,000 gallons of water monthly. Serious leaks are likely if usage exceeds this. 

Check the water meter before and after a 2-hour time period during which no water is being used. A change in the meter indicates leakage. 

Find toilet leaks by dropping food coloring into the toilet’s tank; let it sit without flushing for 15 minutes. Color in the toilet bowl indicates a leak. With the experiment complete, flush the toilet to avoid toilet staining. 

Check for water on outside surfaces of all plumbing fixtures, pipe fittings and faucets, inside and outside, including gaskets. Leaky faucets dripping at a rate of one drip per second wastes 3,000 gallons annually, equivalent to 180 showers! Showerheads leaking 10 drips per minute waste 500 gallons annually or 60 loads of dishes in the dishwasher! 

Check irrigation systems and outdoor spigots each spring for leaks developed over the winter. Leaking irrigation systems waste 6,300 gallons of water monthly.

With the household leak assessment complete, it's time to fix the leaks or call a professional for the more complicated projects. Replace the toilet's flapper, old and worn faucet washers and gaskets, tighten connections between the showerhead and the pipe stem using Teflon pipe tape, replace rubber washers on outdoor hoses and assure a tight fitting at the spigot. Online help is available for DIY assistance.

If, after fixing these leaks water usage is still high, consider replacing old and leaking fixtures. Look for the WaterSense label to assure water efficiency. Replacing older toilets could save 13,000 gallons of water annually. Retrofitting an entire house with WaterSense certified products could save nearly $2,400 in water costs over the product’s lifetime.


Fix a leak image via Shutterstock.

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