Did you know that an average household's plumbing leaks can account for nearly 10,000 gallons of water being wasted each year? This adds up to almost 1 trillion gallons of water being wasted annually nationwide! Easy-to-fix leaks around your house could be wasting 90 gallons of water or more, every day.
Fixing easily corrected water leaks can save homeowners about 10 percent on their water bills. So how do you know if your home hides costly and wasteful leaks? Here's a list of tips from the EPA.
1. Check your utility bill: Try examining your utility bill for January or February. It’s likely that a family of four has a serious leak problem if its winter water use exceeds 10,000 gallons (or 13.4 CCF) per month. You can also look for spikes - is your water use a lot higher this month than it was last month?
2. Read your water meter: Find your water meter, which is usually near the curb in front of your home but can be inside your home (e.g., in the basement) in cold climates. Use a screwdriver to remove the lid on your meter, which is heavy and usually marked “water.” Now that you’ve found the meter, take a reading during a period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same after two hours, you probably have a leak.
3. Test your toilet: Put a few drops of food coloring into the tank at the back of your toilet and let it sit for 10 minutes. If the color shows up in your bowl, you have a leak. Make sure to flush afterward to avoid staining, and consider replacing your old toilet flapper if it is torn or worn.
4. Water world: Examine faucet gaskets and pipe fittings for any water on the outside of the pipe to check for surface leaks. Another telltale sign of a leak is decreased or inconsistent water pressure. If you notice a problem with your faucets, call a plumber.
5. Pipe problems: The pipes that deliver your water are a common source of leaks. If you own an older home, it is more likely to have plumbing problems. Replace galvanized pipes with plastic if possible, and insulate exposed pipes and those in the attic or basement if possible. Pipes can break or crack with age, pressure, or freezing.
Leaks are often easy to fix, requiring only a few tools and hardware that can pay for themselves in water savings. Adding new WaterSense labeled fixtures and other high-efficiency appliances will help further improve your home's water usage.