The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates the average American home loses more than 27 gallons of water a day to leaks, that’s like losing more than a tank of gas every day. Leaks don’t just waste water, they can also damage your home and garden.
Fortunately, it’s easy to be a leak detective. Here are some simple steps to follow:
- Check your water bill for an unusual increase in water usage or monthly charge. This can be a sign your home has a leak.
- Add a few drops of food coloring or a dye tablet to the tank at the back of your toilet, wait 10 minutes and then check to see if the color appears in the bowl. If it does, you most likely have a worn toilet flapper. Turn off the water to the toilet and replace the old flapper with the same type or a universal model, which can usually be found at your local hardware store. When in doubt, contact a professional plumber for help.
- Examine all of your faucets and showerheads for leaks. That little drip might not seem like much, but a faucet leaking one drip per second can waste close to 60 gallons of water a week, enough to do nearly 15 loads of dishes in your dishwasher. A leaky faucet or showerhead can often be fixed by tightening the connection or by replacing the washer or gasket, which can become worn over time. When in doubt, contact a professional plumber for help.
- Walk your yard and look for unusual wet or soggy spots. These can be a sign that there is a broken sprinkler pipe or loose connection. Try to check your sprinklers once a month for problems like broken or clogged sprinkler heads and make sure to repair any problems you find. When in doubt, contact a landscape irrigation professional.
Looking for more information? Read this article by Home and Garden writer Debbie Arrington.
Check out these videos on finding and fixing common household leaks:
Using your water meter to find leaks (Regional Water Providers Consortium)
Detecting and fixing a leaky toilet (Regional Water Providers Consortium)
How to fix a leaky faucet (Saving Water Partnership)
How to fix a leaky outdoor faucet (Saving Water Partnership)
Replace your leaky toilet flapper (WaterSense)
Replace your faucet aerator (WaterSense)