If 2018 seemed like the year that your car’s windshield wipers never stopped moving, you’re definitely not alone here in Chester County. Last year, we passed our annual average rainfall by September and ended the year with a total of nearly 70 inches – 52% above normal! It wasn’t just due to a few hurricanes either. It was more like a daily drenching. As reported in the Daily Local News, according to weather stations overseen by the Delaware Environmental Observing System, during the 214-day stretch from June 1 to December 31, there were 101 days that featured at least some amount of rainfall.

Naturally, six feet of rain would seem to be like the lottery to the twenty-one watersheds that supply our communities — but that’s not exactly the case. Every drop from above doesn’t link automatically to water reserves for our homes. Southeastern Pennsylvania depends on groundwater: the water that seeps into and collects in the soil and rocks before emerging out into our beautiful creeks and streams from which we draw water for public use.

Rain water leads to groundwater, and groundwater leads to streams, rivers, and reservoirs.

The catch is, only around 28% of a gentle soaking rain actually seeps through and replenishes that groundwater – less if it’s a driving rain. In extended periods of rainfall, the ground becomes saturated, limiting the capacity for additional storage. So where does the rest go? It runs off the ground, goes through the treatment facility, and then releases into our rivers and oceans. In short: it’s gone.

Record levels of rain water may create the impression there is an overabundance of water available for our daily use – but that is only temporary. So, it’s important to remain vigilant about our intended – and unintended – water consumption.

Fortunately, this vigilance is easy to accomplish. Let’s look at the four largest average daily users of water in a home: the clothes washer (23 gallons), the faucets (26 gallons), the shower (28 gallons) and the toilet (33 gallons).1 By just eliminating partial loads in the washers, repairing dripping faucets, shortening showers, and fixing toilet leaks you can help preserve water reserves with very little effort – yet the impact can be huge. For instance, one running toilet wastes an average of 4.5 gallons per minute. That’s nearly 6500 gallons of water in just one day!

So, despite a torrential rain that causes you to slosh through puddles, hydroplane on highways, and worry about the resilience of your sump pump, remember that the overabundance of water that you see will dissipate quickly. We won’t be able to keep most of that water for our daily use, so using water wisely still remains imperative – regardless of the annual precipitation.


Lasya Ravulapati is a Marketing Intern in the LeakAlertor® division of the company nth Solutions, LLC.

1 https://www.watercalculator.org/water-use/indoor-water-use-at-home/

Dye Tablets

5 Reasons why dye tablets are not accurate:

The LeakAlertor takes away the frustration of high water bills, and saves you money! Unlike dye tablets, the LeakAlertor is constantly at work checking for silent leaks, wide-open flappers, and faulty fill valves. It alerts you before you leave the bathroom with a “beep” and blinking LED during the flush cycle.

1) Errors are made in using dye tablets.
Often times, dye tablets are used incorrectly. Some people have mistakenly put the tablet in the toilet bowl rather than the toilet tank…test ruined! Some have put the tablet in the tank, and flushed the toilet immediately…test ruined! Some people drop the tablet in the tank, but then walk away and forget…again, test ruined!

2) Not all toilet leaks are caught by dye tablets.
Dye tablets can only detect one type of leak – a leaking flapper – and only if it’s leaking at the time of the test. However, stuck flush valves, wide-open flappers, phantom flushes, and running toilets are all common leaks not detected by dye tablets.

3) By the time you use a dye tablet your toilet may have already been leaking for weeks, or even months.
Often times, homeowners don’t realize a toilet is leaking because they think a leak should mean there is water on the floor. However, the most common leaks occur either at the flapper, or where the tank and bowl connect. These leaks occur inside the toilet, and are almost always invisible.

4) Intermittent leaks are often missed by dye tablets.
Just because your toilet isn’t leaking at the moment of testing doesn’t mean it wasn’t leaking an hour ago, or won’t be leaking an hour from now. Also, when a flapper first begins to leak, the amount may be too small for dye tablets to detect.

5) It’s not easy to get dye tablets.
Few hardware stores actually sell them, and it’s a hassle to contact your water utility for free tablets. You can buy them on-line, but you have to pay for shipping and wait for them to arrive. Meanwhile, your toilet continues to leak, and your water bill gets even higher!

7 Reasons why the flapper/flush-valve won't close:

1)  The flapper is “stuck” to the overflow pipe.
One observable symptom: it is not bobbing or floating in the water, regardless of the water height, and appears to be partially or fully upright.

2)  The chain is tangled.
A chain link can get stuck on the metal clip or loop over the top of the lever arm. Although an improper chain length causes many of these problems, “slapping” the flush handle can also cause the chain to hang up.

3)  A clogged drain/obstructed pipe produces back pressure through the flush valve seat.
The obstruction doesn’t allow the water level inside the tank to drop low enough for the flapper to seat properly. In this instance, the flapper appears to “hover” in the water above the flush valve seat. A clogged or obstructed drain pipe is the most common reason for toilets to overflow the bowl.

4)  A “universal” replacement flapper is purchased.
When a “universal” replacement flapper is purchased, it does not seat properly on the flush valve. Flappers should be purchased according to the type of flush valve used because universal flappers can leak and/or fail to seat up to 50% of the time.

5)  The flush handle/lever is old, defective, or “sticking” to the inside of the toilet tank.
Old or defective equipment can result in the flapper being held open.

6)  The flapper hinges are weakened and/or degraded.
This allows the flapper to slide to the side and not seat properly on the flush valve. (Note: the water flow from the fill valve can also push the flapper to one side if it is above 60 PSI.)

7)  A flapper’s buoyancy doesn’t become “negative” until the tank completely evacuates.
This does not allow the flapper to seat properly. Although there are several known causes (including toilet design), the most common is a clogged or obstructed drain pipe, which creates back pressure into the tank through the flush valve.

5 Common reasons why wide-open flappers often go undetected:

1)  No one is home to hear it running.
Often times, a person will use the bathroom before they leave their home (or business). In this case, a wide-open flapper would not be detected until the person returned home and realized the problem. This could be hours, or even the following day.

2)  The bathroom is not used frequently.
A wide-open flapper in secondary bathrooms (a finished basement or guest bathroom) can go undetected for days or weeks, wasting a tremendous amount of water and resulting in a high water bill.

3)  Hearing impaired/challenged people may fail to recognize a problem exists.
People with moderate to severe hearing loss may be unable to hear the running water. People afflicted with tinnitus may be unable to distinguish the sound of the running water from their tinnitus.

4)  The sound of the toilet tank refilling is a muted hum.
The initial flush of a toilet is loud, brief, and occurs while the user is still in the bathroom. However, the refilling of the toilet is quieter, prolonged, and typically finishes after the user has left the bathroom. Therefore, the user is unaware when the flapper remains wide-open.

5)  Background noise can easily mask the sound of a wide-open flapper or flush valve.
Examples include central air conditioners and HVAC systems (while the fan is operating); ceiling and window fans; music and/or TV; etc.