Did you know the average household in America wastes 1 trillion gallons of water each year due to leaks? That makes leaks not just an annoyance in your home, but a money waster as well. You may notice obvious water leaks such as dripping faucets and water around the toilet. But water leaks may also go unnoticed, such as in toilet flapper valves and water supply lines that become cracked.
Leaks can be caused by rust, corrosion, and pressure in the pipes. Leak detection in your home is simple and only requires a bit of work and routine check-ups on your part in order to keep everything working as it should.
Leaks can come from:
- Toilets: The issue could be with the rubber flapper (valve seal) which can decay over time. If water in the tank is over the overflow tube, water is leaking down the drain. A simple test can help with this, and the flapper valve is an easy replacement. Just take the old valve seal to the hardware store with you, and buy a replacement part.
- Faucets (indoor and outdoor): Washers and gaskets can become worn and corroded by minerals in the water. The fix may be simple and depends on your type of faucet (compression, cartridge, ball/delta, ceramic discs). For outside faucets, do the same check. Watch for damage in sprinkler systems too.
- Showerheads: Check to ensure the connections between the showerhead and the attached pipe from the wall are tight. If that does not fix your problem, remove the showerhead and check the o-ring (washer) inside to see if it needs replacing. The issue could also be with lime buildup, which occurs over time due to lime and calcium in the water supply. Clean by filling a large (leak-proof) plastic bag with a cleaning solution (found at hardware stores) or a mixture of 1 cup white vinegar with ¼ cup baking soda and attach with a rubber band to your shower head. Wait about an hour, rinse, and remove.
- Appliances: Dishwashers, washing machines, and refrigerators (icemaker water valve or inlet tube) can all be culprits when it comes to leaks in your home. For leak detection, first turn off the water supply and check all attached hoses and pipes.
- Water heater: There may be a stuck pressure valve release. This large brass fitting may be near the top of the tank.
Always turn off the water supplies to all appliances before performing a leak detection test. Perform any tests while no water is being used so you have an accurate reading of your water meter.
EPA Handy Tips
For leak detection all around your home, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has handy tips to remember:
- Check your water meter, then wait 2 hours without using any water. If the meter changes, you may have a leak that has been overlooked.
- Check your water usage during a cold month. If your family (four people, for this example) is using more than 12,000 gallons in a month, there are major leaks in your home.
Wasted water is nothing to mess around with in your home. Not only can it be expensive, but the damage that can occur to floors, walls, and other surfaces can also be costly. Mold and mildew buildup is a health hazard, and if left untreated, all of these problems can become bigger and more costly. Regular maintenance and check-ups around your home can help to ensure everything is in good shape and proper working order.
Remember when in doubt, call a professional. Do not risk harm to yourself or your property if you are unsure about any repairs.