Leaks Can Run, But They Can't Hide!
What Is WaterSense?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA for short, is the part of our nation’s government that helps to protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the land where we live. EPA’s WaterSense program encourages Americans to use only the water they need and avoid wasting this precious resource. This concept, known as “water efficiency,” is important because the more people there are on the planet, the more strain it puts on limited water supplies. In fact, from 1950 to 2005, the number of people living in the United States doubled, while the demand for water more than tripled. Using only what we need helps keep this growing thirst for water in check.
The Facts on Leaks
Did you know that, in a year, water leaks in your home can waste enough water to fill a backyard swimming pool? And if we added up all the water leaking in people’s homes right now, it could fill nearly a trillion gallon milk jugs? That’s enough water for all the people living in the cities Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami combined.
Water-wasting leaks include running toilets, dripping faucets, and other leaking pipes around your home. Most of these leaks can be fixed easily.
Fixing these leaks can save your family more than 10 percent on water bills. That’s like saving $1 for every $10 spent on the water.
Take a watch or clock with a second hand and time how often your faucet drips. A leaky faucet that drips at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons in a year!
There are parts that hold your faucet together called washers and gaskets - they can wear down and cause drips. However, if someone in your house is handy, these parts can usually be replaced easily.
There’s also a little screen device called an “aerator” that can be screwed onto the tip of your faucet—it adds air into the water stream so you can use less water to wash your hands or brush your teeth without noticing a difference in water flow.
Showerheads—the place where water comes out in streams at the top of your shower—can also get old and leak, even when the water is not on. A showerhead that drops just 10 drips in a minute wastes more than 500 gallons per year. If you saved it all up, that would be enough water to wash 60 loads of dishes in your dishwasher!
Most leaky showerheads can be fixed by making sure they’re screwed in tight. Having someone handy wrap the showerhead in “pipe tape,” a special tape available at hardware stores, and using a wrench to tighten it will help.
It’s one of the oldest prank phone calls—“Is your toilet running? Then you’d better catch it!” But a running toilet is no joke. If you can hear the water in your toilet making noise, even when no one flushed recently, you have a running toilet that could be wasting 200 gallons of water or more every day! Sometimes you just need to jiggle the handle to fix it, but sometimes a part needs to be replaced.
Many toilet leaks are caused because the “flapper” is decayed or broken. The flapper is a rubber piece that opens up to let the water flow from the tank into the bowl when you pull down on the toilet handle. You can easily replace this inexpensive part of your toilet.
Check your garden hose for leaks where it connects to the side of the house. If it leaks when the hose is turned on, make sure the hose is screwed in tight. If that doesn’t work, you may need to replace the nylon or rubber hose washer or wrap the “spigot,” which is the metal faucet where the end of the hose attaches to the wall in pipe tape.
If you have a sprinkler system, be sure to check the system each spring before turning it on to make sure the sprinklers were not broken during the winter or have sprung any leaks.