You know you can save water indoors by turning off the tap while you brush your teeth, "letting it mellow" and taking care not to waste it while cooking and cleaning. But there's a major water user in your home that you might not even be aware of - water leaks. Those leaks, on average, account for 14 percent of indoor water use. Proper inspection and maintenance of your appliances and plumbing fixtures can help prevent leaks, but sometimes leaks happen anyway, and sometimes they go unnoticed for years.
Read on to learn how to reduce waste by finding and fixing those water leaks, and take our Water Footprint Calculator to find out how much water you use directly and indirectly each day.
- If you look up at the ceiling and see evidence of a leak from the bathroom above, this video will show you how to find the leak.
- If your sink or bathtub faucets leak one drip per second you'll waste more than 3,000 gallons per year. You could take 180 showers with all that water! Check for leaks by examining the washers and gaskets for wear and replacing them if necessary.
- If you have to replace a faucet, look for one with the EPA WaterSense label.
- A showerhead that leaks 10 drips per minute wastes more than 500 gallons per year. That's 60 loads of dishes in your dishwasher! Grab some pipe tape and a wrench and make sure that connection is tight.
- If you have to replace a showerhead, look for one that has earned the WaterSense label.
- If you find that your shower is leaking behind the wall and you're an ambitious do-it-yourself type, there are instructions for hunting down and fixing the leak part 1 and part 2.
- If you suspect your toilet is leaking, place a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If the color shows up in the bowl within 15 minutes without flushing, you have a leak (make sure to flush immediately after this experiment to avoid staining the tank). You may not need to track down a plumber because there are several things you can do yourself to fix a leaking toilet.
- If your toilet is leaking, you usually just need to replace the flapper. Over time, this inexpensive rubber part decays, or minerals build up on it. It's usually best to replace the whole rubber flapper--a relatively easy, inexpensive do-it-yourself project (see steps in the link immediately above) that pays for itself in no time.
- If you need to replace the entire toilet, look for a WaterSense labeled model.
- Here are a few more ways to find and fix leaks from shower doors and drains, bathroom tiles and toilet flanges.
- Is there a puddle of water under your fridge? There are a number of reasons why it might be leaking. Follow this list of steps to find a leak from the bottom or the back of your fridge.
- Sink faucets are usually pretty accessible so it's relatively easy to find a leak. Here's a video that walks you through the process. Or maybe it's not the faucet, it's the sprayer.
- If your dishwasher is leaking, it might take a little time and effort to find the leak, but it will be worth it to avoid bigger problems later on. Here are the steps to determine where the leak is coming from.
- Here are a few more ways to find and fix leaks around the kitchen sink and drain.
Laundry Room Leaks:
- Washing machines leak from different places and for different reasons, including overloading your machine! Here are the steps you can take to find and fix the leaks and their most likely causes.
- Utility sinks are sometimes installed in your laundry room and when they leak, they're fairly straightforward to repair. Here's a video to show you how.
Heating and Cooling System Leaks:
- Water heaters can leak from several places. Follow these steps to first determine if there is a leak, and then where it's coming from. Just don't forget to turn off the electric or gas supply when you work around your water heater!
- Evaporative coolers are great in dry climates, and if they're in-window units they're easy to work on if there's a leak.
- Whole-house humidifier and evaporative cooler leaks can go unnoticed for a long time because the system is typically plumbed directly into the supply line. Regular maintenance helps but if you think there's a leak, check out these steps for a humidifier or an evaporative cooler.
Temporary Leak Fixes:
- Why do most plumbing disasters happen at 3 am on a Saturday morning, when most plumbers are fast asleep? If the solution to your overnight disaster is something you can't quite manage on your own, here are some temporary fixes that will get you through a night or a weekend until you can call in a professional.
- Check your in-ground irrigation system each spring before you turn it on, to make sure there's no damage from frost or freezing during the winter. An irrigation system with a leak as small as 1/32 inch in diameter (about the thickness of a dime) can waste about 6,300 gallons of water (and a lot of money) each month.
- First things first with your irrigation system. Make sure that it's set properly so you're not overwatering. Next, to find leaks, check out this video to find and repair your leaks.
- As frustrating as it might be, sometimes you just can't find the leak in your irrigation system on your own. Don't worry though, because the WaterSense program has a list of partners who have passed a certification program focused on water efficiency. They'll help you lock up that leak.
- Where is your garden hose leaking? Is it from the faucet or is it actually leaking from the hose? Figure it out and stop the leak with these steps.
- Is your pool losing water by the bucketful? The first step in finding a pool leak is to determine whether the water loss is actually from a leak or from evaporation (in which case, cover that pool when you're not using it!). This simple bucket test will help you figure it out.
- If you've determined that your pool definitely has a leak and you're in a do-it-yourself mood, here's what you need to know about finding and fixing the leak.
- If you have a hot tub, keep it covered so you don't lose water to evaporation. If you think it's leaking, these instructions will help you find and repair it so you can get back to maximum relaxation enjoyment.
- If the fountain or pond in your peaceful outdoor retreat is in danger of being ruined because of a leak, there are steps you can take to find and repair it and get your Zen back.
Water Meter and Supply Line Leaks:
- Here's an easy way to see if you have a leak in your home: examine your winter water usage. In general, for a family of four, if your water use exceeds 12,000 gallons per month you might have a leak.
- Pick a time when no one needs to use the water for a while and check your water meter before and after a set time period (15 minutes to a couple of hours). If the meter does not read exactly the same, you probably have a leak somewhere.
- Although it could be tough to find, there might be a leak between the water meter and the supply line. Never fear! There are steps you can take to find the leak.