Are Household Leaks Draining Your Budget?
March 22 is World Water Day, which is a great time to discuss household water leaks and water conservation. According to the EPA, household water leaks can waste more than 1 trillion gallons of water annually nationwide. Ten percent of homes have leaks that can waste 90 gallons of water PER DAY. The average American household already uses 400 gallons of water each day. As you can imagine, a single leak could be costing your family a pretty penny. Can you imagine how much it might cost if the leak goes unnoticed for an extended period?
To avoid leaks going unnoticed, we checked with one of our top plumbers to find out what red flags to watch for. Here was his advice:
Red Flag #1 – Did your water bill suddenly increase?
Each month, be sure to check your water bill carefully for inconsistencies. If it is significantly higher than normal, start by calling your water company. Sometimes it can be a simple mistake on the billing but your water company can verify the accuracy of your reading. It is also helpful for you to learn how to read your water meter. If you suspect a leak, turn your water off for a couple of hours. If the meter is still going up, despite the water not being used… you know that you have an issue.
Red Flag #2 – Have you noticed an unexplained wet spot in your yard?
A random wet spot in your yard can indicate a leak in your septic tank, roots that are growing in your pipes or other issues with your outside lines. If the issue lies between the meter and your house, you will be responsible for fixing the pipe. However, if it is on the other side of the meter, you need to contact your local water company ASAP so that they can fix the problem.
Red Flag #3 – Has your water pressure suddenly changed?
If the pressure of your water suddenly changes, that is a good indicator of a problem. Water requires pressure to move through the pipes in your home to your faucets. If there is a crack in your pipes, that pressure is released making it more difficult for the water to reach its intended destination.
Red Flag #4 – Do you have condensation on your walls or is your interior paint discolored?
Condensation is a primary indicator that there is too much moisture in your walls. This can be caused by leaks in your plumbing or from your HVAC system. Condensation may only be obvious when certain weather conditions are met. If you have noticed a musty smell or mildew, those are evidence of a bigger problem as well. These leaks can be much more difficult to locate and/or repair. It is advisable to hire a professional to assess and repair damage.
A few Simple DIY Fixes:
- Do you know where your main water shut-off valve is in your home? It is imperative that homeowners or renters know this. You can potentially save yourself a lot of money on repairs by quickly shutting off your main water supply if you happen to experience a plumbing emergency in your home. Check it periodically to ensure that it is functioning properly and that you can easily turn the knob in an emergency.
- If you suspect that your toilet is leaking, perform the 10-minute toilet test. Place a drop of food coloring in your toilet tank. If the color ends up in the bowl, then you have a leak. (Don’t leave the food coloring in the toilet for more than 10 minutes though… or you may stain your toilet). If you do determine that you have a leak, check/replace the flapper and chain to ensure that it is seating properly.
- Does your shower drip? This is most likely caused by worn-out washers. Check all faucet gaskets and fittings that are under your sink and behind your toilet for surface leaks. These are inexpensive and should be replaced every 3-5 years.
- Appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, dish washers and water heaters should be checked periodically for rust or corrosion. These are signs that water is leaking. Since you already need to check your HVAC filters once every 1-3 months, that is always a great time to check your appliances for small leaks. Don’t wait until one of these appliances fails, because then you will have a much larger problem on hand. Then you may be looking at replacing flooring, drywall and personal items in addition to the appliance that failed.
When leaks are identified, even if the damage may appear minimal, black mold or mildew may begin to grow within your walls and can cause a variety of health issues. It is best to take care of leaks as quickly as possible.
Preventative maintenance is always best. To schedule a whole house inspection call ARS®/Rescue Rooter® at 1-800-277-9400 to set up an appointment with one of our plumbing specialists.