Are you ready to chase down leaks? Household leaks can waste nearly 1 trillion gallons of water annually nationwide, so it is very important to catch leaks early.
Checking for Leaks
The average household’s leaks can account for nearly 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year and ten percent of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day. Common types of leaks found in the home are worn toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and other leaking valves. These types of leaks are often easy to fix, requiring only a few tools and hardware that can pay for themselves in water savings. Fixing easily corrected household water leaks can save homeowners about 10% on their water bills.
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, such as January or February. 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 fittings for any water on the outside of the pipe to check for surface leaks.
- Regional Water Providers Consortium in Oregon has a number of videos on detecting household leaks
Old or worn-out toilet flappers (e.g., valve seal) 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 for your water woes. To fix this leak, consult your local hardware store, home improvement retailer, or licensed plumber.
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!
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 showers that drip when not in use, contact an experienced handyperson or licensed plumber.
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. An irrigation system that has a leak 1/32nd of an inch in diameter (about the thickness of a dime) can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month.
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.
In the Workplace
Leaks don’t just don’t happen at home. You should be on the lookout for leaks even when you are at work. Here are some ways to help find and fix leaks in your workplace.
- If you see a leak – in the restroom, pantry, or outdoors, report it to your maintenance staff.
- Organize a Fix a Leak Week event in your facility to challenge employees and tenants to find leaks and report water waste. You may even be able to get your local water utility to help.
- Put up signs in restrooms and pantries to encourage everyone to look for leaks and report problems. Include information on who they should contact. WaterSense has developed some graphic tools you can use to communicate with employees on the need to report leaks.
- Fix a Leak Week Commercial Resources (zip) (zip file)
- Use the EPA’s checklist to keep track of areas to check for leaks: Fight Leaks and Water Waste in your Facility Checklist(2 pp, 638 K, About PDF)
Leaks Still Flowing?
If you’ve already determined you have leaks, contact Real Property Management to get help resolving them. You can submit a maintenance request via your Resident portal or email Support@RealPM.com.
Blog content and resources gathered from EPA.gov