A little leak loses lots! Just a slow drip can add up to 15 to 20 gallons a day, while a pinhole size faucet leak wastes 100 gallons in 24 hours!

Toilet Leaks

Toilets are notorious for their hidden leaks. They can waste hundreds of gallons a day undetected. Leaks occur when the toilet is out of adjustment or when parts are worn, so it’s important to check the toilet periodically. Most toilet leaks are at the overflow pipe or at the plunger ball and aren’t hard to find.

If the toilet is leaking at the overflow, the water level is usually too high, although the overflow pipe sometimes may leak below the waterline. To stop this kind of leak, gently bend the arm until the valve shuts off the water about a half-inch below the top of the overflow pipe. Sometimes the valve is worn and will run like a leaky faucet and must be replaced. If you’re an experienced “do-it-yourselfer” you can do the job. Otherwise, call a plumber.

Plunger-ball leaks are only a little more difficult to spot. The best way to check is by dropping a little food coloring into a tank full of clear water and waiting to see if the color shows up in the bowl. If it does, you probably have a leak at the plunger ball, either because the ball needs replacing or because the mechanism is out of alignment. This is relatively simple repair for a “do-it-yourselfer.”

Aside from toilets, most leaks are found in faucets and are most commonly caused by worn washers. Check all the faucets in the house once or twice a year. If any of them drip after you’ve turned them off firmly, turn off the water supply line, take the faucet apart, and replace the washer. Usually it’s not hard, although some faucet designs do present a challenge. Any good household do-it-yourself book offers easy-to-understand advice if you need it.

Be a Leak Detective

Your water meter is the best leak detector in your home. Turn everything off carefully, so no water is being used anywhere in the house. Then check the position of the meter dial for about 15 minutes. If it hasn’t moved, congratulations! You have a relatively watertight home. But if it has, start checking hose connections, faucets and toilets.

In fact, the City is installing automated meter reading systems that will set off an alarm at City Hall if water consumption is beyond normal for any given meter. This will give the City the opportunity to conserve water and potentially save you money not only for water bills but from potentially more serious water damage in or outside your home!