Not tending to water leaks in your home, is money thrown in the down the drain.
Leaky water pipes are not uncommon, in fact, around a quarter of all toilets in residential homes have a leak to some degree. If you include faucets, shower-heads, and pools, the possibility of water leaks get a lot more common. Ideally, you want to avoid falling victim to leaks around your home because the potential cost of a leaky pipe can leave a significant over flow with your water bill.
Fortunately, there are several ways to check for water leaks around the house, long before calling a plumber. Most of these fixes do not require a lot of technical experience and can be done with little effort. Most water leaks around the home will be visible leaks (faucets, shower-heads, etc.) and others may take a little more effort to find. Fixing even the smallest of leaks will save you several hundreds of gallons of water every year.
Identifying a Water Leak
The wonderful thing about homes are that they are built with gauges that measure input and output of utilities for accountability and billing purposes. In this case, we’ll be looking at the water meter to see if there are any leaks in your home.
One of the best ways to check for leakage in your home turn on the shut-off valve in your home and wait. After at least an hour you’ll want to check your water meter and see if the meter's needle has moved at all. If there is water activity, then your leak is outside your home between the street and your home. If there is no water activity in the main line and your meter still shows there is a leak, then the leak is coming from inside your home.
Checking for Water Leaks
You’ll want to check several places in your homes for potential leaks. Most common areas are bathrooms and kitchens.
Check your toilet for leaks with food coloring. Put a few drops of food coloring in the toilet tank and wait a few minutes. If the color has gotten into the toilet bowl, then there is a leak in your toilet tank (typically a problem with your flapper).
Flappers are inexpensive and can wear out easily and is a common issue for toilet leakage. Consult your local hardware store of a plumber for help with a replacement. Bring the old flapper to the store to ensure you find the right sized flapper replacement for your toilet.
Your toilet may also be overfilled. You’ll know this because the water level is filled right up to the overflow tube, which is draining the excess over flow of water down the drain. There are three possibilities for an overflow:
Faucets, Showers, and Bathtubs
Faucet leaks are usually caused by old, worn faucet gaskets and washers. Visible water or moisture on the outside of the faucet are a clear sign of surface leaks. Faucet leaks can be fixed by tightening any loose connections. The connection may just have loosened up over time. Using pipe tape (aka Teflon tape) further tighten the seal on shower heads and similar fixtures to prevent water leakage. If the leak is complicated or out of reach, consult with a plumber to fix the leak for you.
Outdoor Water Leaks
Pools, fountains, and irrigation systems are prone to leaks as well. Each spring, outdoor systems must be checked for frost or freeze damage. It is probably best to hire professionals when working on bigger projects.
Check garden water hoses for leaks and replace if necessary. If there is visibly greener or longer grass in one area where piping runs, there may be a leak underground. Do not try and repair underground fixtures yourself. Hire a plumber.
If there are still water leaks even after these quick fixes, you may want to replace the entire unit. Whether it be a toilet, a faucet, a washing machine or a dishwasher make sure the replacement is low-flow and energy efficient. Again, consulting a plumbing professional is the smartest idea.
Knowing where your leaks are originating from may also make the plumber’s job easier and less expensive for you.
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