Leaks in American homes account for, on average, 10,000 gallons of wasted water per home every year; that’s why WaterSense, a division of the Environmental Protection Agency, promotes Fix a Leak Week to remind Americans to check their fixtures for drips and leaks. This year, Fix a Leak Week is March 12-18.
- When totaled all across the nation, the amount of leaking water could be more than 1 trillion gallons every year. That’s as much as Miami, Los Angeles, and Chicago use.
- In homes that have leaks, 10 percent waste more than 90 gallons per day.
- Toilet flappers, faucets, showerheads, and other valves are the most common leaky spots. These are easily and inexpensively fixed by even the most inexperienced do-it-yourselfer.
- By fixing the small leaks, most homes can realize a 10 percent savings on their water usage and therefore their water bills.
- A 10-drip-per-minute showerhead wastes more than 500 gallons of water per year, enough to run a dishwasher 60 times.
- A one-drip-per second faucet wastes more than 3,000 gallons per year.
- A toilet that is constantly running can waste up to 6,000 gallons of water per year.
How do you know if you have a leak? First, do some detective work.
- For a family of four, water usage should not be above 12,000 gallons a month for the coldest months of the year. If your number is higher, you have at least one leak.
- Take a look at your water meter at the beginning and end of a two-hour period when you’re not using any water. If the meter moves even a little, you’ve got a leak.
- Place a drop of red or blue food coloring in the tank of your toilet—not the bowl. Wait 15 minutes, and then check the bowl. If you see any color, you’ve got a leak. Either way, be sure to flush at the end of your test so the food coloring doesn’t stain.
- Look at your faucet gaskets and pipe fittings for water on the outside of the pipes that indicates a leak.
- Watch a video by the Regional Water Providers Consortium (www.conserveh2o.org) for additional tips.
- Think you have a leak but can’t find it? Call a plumber.
Now it’s time to fix that leak:
- Use pipe tape on leaky showerheads and faucets and make sure the connections are tight. Ensure the washer or gasket is in good shape as well.
- Fix the flapper, or valve seal, on your toilet. Take your current valve seal with you to the hardware store to ensure you get the correct one. Or, call a licensed plumber to do the work for you.
Fixing your leaks, whether they are in your shower, toilet, faucet, or even in your outdoor hoses, can help save thousands of gallons of water per year. This helps the environment and your budget. For any fixture that needs to be replaced, be sure you look for one with a WaterSense label, which will save you even more.