Editor’s note: Since we’ve tightened our focus to waste issues, we’re stayed focused mostly on solid wastes… but that doesn’t mean we’re not concerned about misuse of other resources. So we’re grateful to the the EPA’s WaterSense program for sharing this post on Fix a Leak Week (which is this week). Take a look at the things you can do to fix a water leak (and what you can save doing it!).
by Karen Wirth, WaterSense marketing and outreach coordinator
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
A couple drips coming from your kitchen faucet, showerhead, or sprinkler connection might not seem like a lot, but even the smallest leak means major water waste—not to mention higher water bills. In fact, the average American family wastes more than 10,000 gallons of water and 10 percent on their water bills each year from easy-to-fix leaks. That’s the amount of water it takes to wash 270 loads of laundry!
To help Americans reduce the more than 1 trillion gallons of water wasted in U.S. homes annually from leaks, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense® program declared Fix a Leak Week March 16-22, 2015. Look at your monthly water bill from January or February; if it is higher than 12,000 gallons for a family of four, you probably have a serious leak. Or check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the reading has changed, something’s leaking!
Celebrate Fix a Leak Week this year by checking your home for leaks! Start by twisting and tightening plumbing connections, and replace old or broken fixtures with WaterSense labeled models, which are certified to save water and perform well. Here are four places to look around your home to stop water waste:
- Toilets: Did you know that a running toilet can waste as much as 21,600 gallons of water per month and $2,100 per year? To identify silent toilet leaks in your home, take this quick test: drop a few drops of food coloring in the tank at the back of your toilet. Wait 10 minutes, and if color appears in the bowl, you have a leak. Don’t forget to flush to avoid staining. Old or faulty rubber toilet flappers are a major cause of toilet leaks. Replacing the flapper is an easy and inexpensive fix.
- Faucets: A leaky faucet dripping at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons of water per year. Check washers and gaskets for wear and replace if needed. If you don’t have them already, twist WaterSense labeled aerators on the spout of your bathroom faucets to save both water and energy from heating the water. The energy savings alone is the amount you would use to dry your hair for 10 minutes a day!
- Showerheads: Over the course of a year, a showerhead that’s leaking just 10 drips a minute can waste the amount of water needed to wash 60 loads of dishes! You can fix most leaky showerheads by ensuring a tight connection with pipe tape and a wrench. But if your showerhead needs replacing, try a WaterSense labeled model, which can save 2,900 gallons of water, $70 on utility bills, and the energy that it takes to power your home for 13 days every year.
- Outdoors: If you have an irrigation system, check it after winter’s thaw to make sure that the sprinkler heads are not broken or leaking. An irrigation system with a leak 1/32nd of an inch in diameter (the size of a ballpoint pen tip!) can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month.
To learn more about Fix a Leak Week, see a brief animated video on how to check/twist/replace, or find more tips about finding and fixing leaks, visit the WaterSense website. And if you find and fix a leak in your home, tweet a photo with #IFixLeaks to share your water-saving success!
Photo credit: Shutterstock