Finding and Fixing 3 Common Leaks
Annually, household leaks account for 1 trillion gallons of wasted water nationwide. Fix a Leak Week, March 14-20, is bringing awareness to the importance of conserving water by fixing leaks. We’re celebrating Fix a Leak Week by helping our readers learn how to identify and repair common household leaks. If all Americans fixed their leaks, we would have enough water to supply 11 million homes for one year.
Many household leaks are easy and inexpensive to fix. Repairing them could save you 10 percent on your water bill.
2 Easy Ways to Find Leaks
To discover whether you have any leaks in your home, try one or both of these simple steps.
- Check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter changes at all, you may have a leak.
- Check your water bill during colder months. If a family of four is exceeding 12,000 gallons a month, there may be serious leaks.
Finding and Fixing Leaks in Your Toilets
Identify toilet leaks by placing ten drops of food coloring in the toilet tank. If any color shows up in the bowl after ten to 15 minutes, you have a leak. (Be sure to flush immediately after the experiment to avoid staining the tank.)
Toilet leaks are often due to a worn or faulty toilet flapper. There are other causes of leaks as well that you can fix yourself with a little elbow grease.
Finding and Fixing Leaks in Your Faucets
Old and worn washers and gaskets frequently cause faucet leaks. Examine these gaskets and pipe fittings. If you find any water on the outside of the pipe, this indicates a surface leak. Take a look under your sink every once in a while to look for signs of water leaks. These leaks often go unseen or are hidden by items in the cabinet.
Once you detect a leak coming from your faucet, it is important to first determine what kind of faucet you have. There are four types of faucets: compression, cartridge, ceramic disk, and ball type. Compression faucets use rubber washers to seal the valve seat, so leaks can often be fixed by replacing the washers. The other three types of faucets do not use washers. While this feature makes the faucets last longer, they can still develop leaks. For leaks in these types of faucets, the O-ring or neoprene seal can be replaced.
Before you begin fixing the faucet, it is important that you turn the water off under the sink. You should also close the sink drain and cover it with a towel to catch any parts you may drop. Avoid scratching your fixtures by covering the jaws of your wrench with duct tape. When taking apart your faucet, you can use distilled white vinegar and a soft scouring pad to remove any mineral deposits.
Finding and Fixing Leaks in Your Shower Heads
Showerheads often leak because of a loose connection between the showerhead and the pipe stem.
This can be repaired by tightening the connection between the showerhead and the pipe stem. If this doesn’t work, you can use Teflon pipe tape. If your shower drips when not in use, this is a different type of leak and may require professional help.
Check out this video from This Old House, which shows how to use Teflon tape, as well as two other methods for sealing different types of pipe connections.
If you try to repair your fixtures and they still leak, you may need to replace them. Check out WaterSense labeled products when replacing your fixtures. Over their lifetime, they will save tens of thousands of gallons of water and thousands of dollars.