Ways to Save Water and Money by Fixing Leaks
California is in its third year of severe drought, and it is more important than ever to use only the water we need. A simple way to save water is to fix leaks around the house. Fixing leaks can save between 27 to 90 gallons of water every day. Luckily, you do not need to be a plumber to make simple repairs around your house.
Follow these simple steps to find and fix the most common leaks inside and outside of the home.
Find out if your house has leaks
- Check your water bill
Check household water usage on your bill, especially in colder months when outdoor irrigation should be minimal. Look for any big changes in water use as this could be caused by a leak somewhere on the property.
- Test your water meter
Check water meters before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter changes, it could indicate a leak.
Fixing leaks inside the house
1. Do the toilet test
A leaky toilet isn’t just a nuisance, it can also waste up to 200 gallons of our much-needed water per day! The simplest way to find toilet leaks is by adding a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If you see color in your toilet bowl after 10 minutes, you know there is a leak. Some toilets also continue to run long after flushing.
Toilet problems are usually caused by a faulty fill valve or flapper. You can stop leaks by purchasing a toilet repair kit. Kits are found at most home improvement stores or purchased online. They are inexpensive and instructions are easy to follow. Check out this WaterSense Bath Hack for a simple way to replace your faulty toilet flapper.
2. Check faucets for leaks
Another common leak inside the house is a dripping bathroom or kitchen faucet. While it does not look like much water, faucets with old or worn-out parts can waste more than 3,000 gallons in your home every year.
You can check faucets for leaks by:
- Examining faucet gaskets and pipe fittings for any water on the outside of the pipe which is a sign of a surface leak.
- Of course, a persistent drip also indicates a leak.
Fortunately, faucet leaks are often easy to repair. Most home improvement stores sell faucet repair kits, so there is no need to hire a plumber. Stopping leaks now can save gallons of water for our state. Visit the EPA’s Fix a Leak Week page for a list of tutorials to help you replace your leaking faucet.
3. Tighten your shower heads
Shower heads are a notorious source of leaks around the house and can waste up to 500 gallons per year. Luckily, repairing a broken shower head is typically as easy as tightening it to the pipe system with a wrench. Pipe tape, which can be found at many hardware stores, can also secure shower heads against any additional leaking.
Fixing leaks outside the house
1. Repair broken irrigation systems
Outdoor sprinkler leaks damaged by freezing winter conditions and landscaping mishaps can waste a whopping 6,000 gallons of water per month.
- A simple way to check for and repair outdoor leaks is to look for wet spots where water is bubbling up from the ground or pooling of water around sprinkler heads.
- Next, dig around broken sprinkler heads that are spewing excess water and replace them.
Most home improvement stores sell sprinkler heads, and most have easy to follow instructions and parts that screw together using common household tools. Be sure to adjust the nozzle to water only plants and avoid wasteful run-off. For detailed tutorials on how to fix irrigation leaks, visit: https://www.epa.gov/watersense/fix-leak-week
2. Don’t forget to check your hose for leaks
The next time you run water through a garden hose, be sure to check for leaks. Hoses often leak from damage, or leak at the connection to the spigot. If you notice water running off from your hose:
- Use pipe tape and a wrench to tighten the connection to the spigot
- Replace damaged hoses
- Replace the nylon or rubber hose washer
More ways to find and fix leaks
1. Report leaks at work
Leaks do not just happen at home, plumbing fixtures and irrigation systems at workplaces often have leaks due to the volume of use. If you notice irrigation leaks outside your workplace, running toilets or dripping restroom sink faucets, say something! Be sure to report the problem to supervisors, building managers or maintenance staff.
2. Update to WaterSense fixtures
If you have performed each of these simple fixes and are still noticing excessive water use on your monthly bill or water meter, it could be time to replace leaking fixtures. Look for the WaterSense label when considering a new toilet, faucet ,or showerhead and increase your home's water efficiency. Click here for a complete list of WaterSense labeled products.
3. DWR and California Rural Water Association offer free Leak detection
To help address leaks in rural communities with aging infrastructure, the Department of Water Resources (DWR) partnered with the California Rural Water Association to offer free leak detection surveys for small and tribal water systems serving less than 3,000 connections. Small and tribal water systems interested in scheduling a free leak detection survey can contact Ruby Viramontes with the California Rural Water Association at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started.