Leaks Waste Water – and It’s Precious
Water is a precious resource – and we’re running out. Want to hear some frightening statistics? Try these on:
- In this country alone – household leaks waste more than 1 trillion gallons of water every year. That’s ONE TRILLION. A “1” with 12 (twelve!) “0’s”.
- The average home leaks about 10,000 gallons of water every year.
- About 10% of homes have leaks that waste upwards of 90 gallons or more a day, and they don’t know it.
Leaks Wreck Your Wallet
Water conservation isn’t just about the environment, though – our wallets take a hit too. Water bills in Arizona already skyrocket in the summer, and if you’re wasting any of it because of a leak – you’re digging a hole and throwing your hard-earned money into it. How about this statistic:
- Correcting common, easy household leaks can save you at least 10% on your water bill every month, and often more!
How to Tell if You Have Water Leaks in Your Home
Here are some signs that you’ve got a water leak:
a) If your water bill suddenly increases dramatically – and it isn’t summer, you didn’t install a pool, and you haven’t done any major landscaping – chances are you’ve got a leak somewhere.
b) If your neighbor has lower water bills, and s/he has a similar size home with a similar size yard, and a similar size family. If you both have one spouse and two kids – chances are you have got a leak somewhere (unless one of your kids is a teenager, then all bets are off and you’re out of luck until s/he goes to college).
c) Turn all water to your home off and take a meter reading. Wait at least an hour, and then take another meter reading. Even better – turn it off at night before you go to bed, leave it off all night, and then check it first thing in the morning (the longer the wait between checks the better the chance that the meter will record the problem, especially if it’s a slow leak). If the second reading is higher than the first – chances are you’ve got a leak somewhere.
A Few Ways to Check for Water Leaks in Your Home:
A lot of water leaks happen underground and behind your walls, and there’s little the average homeowner can do to diagnose those. If any of the above situations are going on – then you know something’s leaking that you’re probably going to need a professional for, and that’s where we can help. In the meantime, however, there’s a lot you can do inside your home to check for water leaks on your own. Here are some suggestions for where to look and what to do:
- The Hot Water Tank: A hot water tank leak isn’t easy to find, especially if its small, but those small leaks can cause big problems – and expense. The first and most obvious sign of a leak is – you can hear it. If you hear water spraying inside the tank – then the tank has failed and you need to replace and drain it a.s.a.p.
To do a general check for leaks – first, know what kind of tank you have, and if its an electric tank – shut off the power – because water + electricity can kill you.
Basically, you need to “feel” every pipe, valve, nut, and screw, especially where it goes into or out of the tank, and if you find anything wet, tighten it if you can. See if that takes care of it. If it doesn’t, or if you don’t have the tools to tighten what needs to be tightened, or even if you’re not sure but you think it might be wet – give us a call!
- The Toilet: Toilets are pretty simple – check for the sound. If you hear any kind of water or hissing at all – then try to locate where it’s coming from. If it’s coming from inside the tank – look inside and see if you can fix it yourself. The inner workings of a toilet are pretty easy to figure out even if you haven’t seen a flapper-ball – also known as the “black or pink rubber thing that goes up and down at the bottom of the tank.”
Sometimes you can see that a chain has slipped off the flapper-ball, or it’s not shutting all the way, etc. If no sound is audible or if you aren’t sure but you have a “feeling” about it, put a couple of drops of food coloring in the tank (not the bowl), and wait a few minutes. If you see the water in the bowl slowly change color – then your flapper has a leak and water is seeping through. And if it’s seeping through – it’s costing you money. Shut the water off, take the part into a plumbing store, and get a new one and replace it – or, give us a call!
- The Faucets & Showerheads: This, of course, is the easiest clue – if a faucet is dripping, it’s costing you money, and its probably driving you crazy as well. Go through your home and check all the faucets (all the faucets – you’ll be surprised how many there are!), and if you find a drip, then see if you can tighten or replace something to fix it. Showerheads are notorious for drips because people tend to pull and twist them around, and they’re not really meant to move that much, so be sure to check those too.
- The Appliances: Again, leaks around appliances can be tricky and/or sneaky. The time to really worry about these leaking is when they’re older. Expect your dishwasher to last about 7 years with heavy use, and 10 years if you use it lightly. 7 to 10 years is sort of a magic number for water heaters as well. As for washing machines, some people say that nowadays these are built to last no more than 5 years before they’re gone. Interestingly – older washing machines do tend to last longer because they tended to be built with sturdier parts. Still – if your washing machine is over 10 years and you use it a lot, start paying attention to it.
Like your hot water tank, for all these appliances, you need to check all the valves, nozzles, pipes, screws, and etc. that are either going into or out of the appliance. Dishwashers and washing machine parts can be trickier to get to, though, as sometimes these are under cabinets, in closets, or behind the appliance. Also – if you can – see how far you can get your hand under the appliance to check if there’s any dampness at all. Again – if you feel wet anywhere, and you have some idea of what to do – take care of it. However, if you can’t “DIY” – give us a call – we’ll be glad to do it – or help you choose a new model and replace it!
Save Money In the Long Run – Check & Fix Leaks Now
Leaks are something that usually start small but can become huge, in terms of both cost and damage. Remember, even an incredibly minor, slow, barely noticeable leak or drip is going to waste water if it isn’t taken care of. Ultimately, it can also cause serious damage to your home as well. Whether you know for sure or just suspect that you have a leak – give us a call, because leaks are what we do!