National Fix A Leak Week

This special week is an annual time when Americans are reminded to check their plumbing fixtures and irrigation systems for leaks.

Leak Detection in Your Home

Tracking down water leaks in your home could have a much bigger payoff than you might realize. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American family could be wasting more than 10,000 gallons of water annually — enough for 270 loads of laundry. Overall, more than 1 trillion gallons of water leak from U.S. homes each year.

Many of these leaks are surprisingly easy to fix, requiring only a few tools and inexpensive hardware that could result in great water savings. Common types of leaks found in homes are worn toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and other leaking valves.

The first step to eliminating household water leaks is to find them and then identify the source. Here are some tips:

  • To find out whether you’re wasting water, take a look at usage during a colder month, such as January or February. If a family of four exceeds 12,000 gallons per month, there could be 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 could 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 may 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.

Toilets are common culprits when it comes to household water waste. Old, faulty flappers are often the source of a leaky toilet. Over time, flappers decay, and minerals build up. Flappers are relatively inexpensive rubber parts, so it’s usually best to replace them altogether. This simple, do-it-yourself project will pay for itself in no time.

Examine outside your home also, including the lawn and garden for leaks. There are several easy ways to increase efficiency outside the home:

  • Check your irrigation system each spring before use to make sure it was not damaged by frost or freezing.
  • Even small leaks can lead to major waste. A leak of just 1/32nd of an inch in diameter (about the thickness of a dime) can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month.
  • 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.

If you suspect a leak somewhere in your home, but the solutions above aren’t enough. Sometimes you just have to call an expert to perform leak detection, locate and do leak repair.