Some plumbing issues can sometimes look like, and even be, a quick fix, but when the issue grows or just can’t be resolved by DIY, it might be time to call a plumber. Toilets, sinks and tubs have potential to do great harm to your home since certain leaks can go undetected for quite some time. Fortunately, if you have an AFC Home Club plan, one call to our stellar customer service team and we’ll work to have you back in business in no time.
Most Americans use roughly 100 gallons of water each day at their home. Leaks, small or large, can mean there is a lot of potential for damage to your home if undetected or not dealt with properly.
Here are some tips from the EPA on how to check for leaks in your home to decide if a call to AFC Home Club might be needed.
Checking for Leaks
The average household’s leaks can account for more than 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year and ten percent of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day. Common types of leaks found in the home are worn toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and other leaking valves. These types of leaks are often easy to fix, requiring only a few tools and hardware that can pay for themselves in water savings. Fixing easily corrected household water leaks can save homeowners about 10 percent on their water bills.
To check for leaks in your home, you first need to determine whether you’re wasting water and then identify the source of the leak. Here are some tips for finding leaks:
– Take a look at your water usage during a colder month, such as January or February. If a family of four exceeds 12,000 gallons per month, there are serious leaks.
– Check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter changes at all, you probably have a leak.
– Identify toilet leaks by placing a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If any color shows up in the bowl after 10 minutes, you have a leak. (Be sure to flush immediately after the experiment to avoid staining the tank.)
– Examine faucet gaskets and pipe fittings for any water on the outside of the pipe to check for surface leaks.
– These WaterSense partners have videos that you might find helpful.
+ Regional Water Providers Consortium in Oregon has a video on detecting household leaks.
+ Thornton Water in Colorado provides tips and tricks to find hidden water waste indoors and outdoors.
Old or worn-out toilet flappers (e.g., valve seal) can cause leaks. Flappers are inexpensive rubber parts that can build up minerals or decay over time. Replacing them can be a quick and easy fix for your water woes. To fix this leak, consult your local hardware store, home improvement retailer, or licensed plumber. Here are some online resources from WaterSense partners:
– Spartanburg Water has a useful video tutorial on detecting leaky toilets.
– The Regional Water Providers Consortium has a step-by-step video on how to fix a leaky toilet.Tip: Bring the old flapper to the hardware store for comparison to make sure you buy a new flapper that fits your toilet model. You can also check the owner’s manual, if you have it, or the manufacturer’s website for the appropriate replacement part number for the flapper.
Old and worn faucet washers and gaskets frequently cause leaks in faucets. A leaky faucet that drips at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year. That’s the amount of water needed to take more than 180 showers! Many tutorials are available online for how to fix a wide variety of faucets. Here are a couple of examples:
– The Do-It-Yourself Network has a handy reference on faucet repairs.
– YouTube has numerous video tutorials on how to fix a dripping faucet.
Tip: Don’t forget to turn off the water line before you start!
A showerhead leaking at 10 drips per minute wastes more than 500 gallons per year. That’s the amount of water it takes to wash 60 loads of dishes in your dishwasher. Some leaky showerheads can be fixed by making sure there is a tight connection between the showerhead and the pipe stem and by using pipe tape to secure it. Pipe tape, also called Teflon tape, is available at most hardware stores, is easy to apply, and can help control leaks. For more complicated valve leaks in showers that drip when not in use, contact an experienced handyperson or licensed plumber.
Tip: It’s also a good idea to check and, if needed, replace the washer or “o” ring inside the showerhead while making this repair.
If you have an in-ground irrigation system, check it each spring before use to make sure it wasn’t damaged by frost or freezing. An irrigation system that has a leak 1/32nd of an inch in diameter (about the thickness of a dime) can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month. If you need help, hire an irrigation professional certified by a WaterSense labeled program to inspect it for you. These professionals have passed a certification program focused on water efficiency. They will not only help you detect and correct leaks in the system, but also maximize its efficiency.
– The Region of Peel in Ontario has a good overview for how to check for sprinkler system leaks.
Tip: Don’t forget garden hoses! Check your garden hose for leaks at its connection to the spigot. If it leaks while you run your hose, replace the nylon or rubber hose washer and ensure a tight connection to the spigot using pipe tape and a wrench.
Leaks Still Flowing?
If you’ve already determined you have leaks and you find these step-by-step solutions aren’t enough to stop them, it might be time to replace your leaking fixtures. When you consult with a plumbing professional, and look for the WaterSense label when considering a new toilet, faucet, or showerhead, you could increase your home’s water efficiency. See a complete list of WaterSense labeled products.