Fix-A-Leak Week is an annual campaign run by the EPA that involves all kinds of events across the country tailored towards raising awareness on the surprising amount of damage that leaks can cause. Of course – here at LeakAlertor, every week is Fix-A-Leak Week. But this week, we’re giving you daily insights into the world of water and leaks – with fun facts, tips, activities, and more. So be sure to tune in and catch our daily posts!

Today, we’re starting out with the basics.

Here are 10 tips for minimizing the damage caused by leaks!

General:

Household leaks can waste more than 1 trillion gallons in one year nationwide.

  1. Check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, you probably have a leak.
  2. A good method to check for leaks is to examine your winter water usage. It’s likely that a family of four has a serious leak problem if its winter water use exceeds 12,000 gallons per month.

Outdoor:

An irrigation system at 60 PSI with a leak the thickness of a dime can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month.

  1. An irrigation system should be checked each spring before use to make sure it was not damaged by frost or freezing.
  2. Check your garden hose for leaks at its connection to the spigot. If it leaks while you run your hose, replace the nylon or rubber hose washer and ensure a tight connection to the spigot using pipe tape and a wrench.
  3. If you left a garden hose connected over the winter, there is a good chance your pipes will burst in the spring. Check the hose bib before you turn it on to make sure none of the pipes were damaged over the winter.
  4. Place a bucket filled with the same level of water as your pool on the second step, and mark the level with a marker. After 24 hours, if the water level in your pool lowers but the water level in the bucket did not, you likely have a leak.

 

Indoor:

A leaky faucet or showerhead that drips at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year.

  1. If your shower head has a leak it can usually be fixed by tightening the connection between the shower head and the pipe stem by using a wrench or Teflon tape, which you can find at your local hardware store.
  2. Install aerators on all household faucets to use less water.

 

Toilets:

A leaking toilet can waste around 600 gallons of water in one month.

  1. If your toilet is leaking, the cause is often an old, faulty toilet 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 that pays for itself in no time.
  2. An age-old test for toilet leak detection is the food dye or dissolvable dye-tab test. Drop a dye-tab into the tank of the toilet and check back 15 minutes later. If the color has seeped into the water in the bowl, you have a leak. However, be warned: dye-tabs can only tell you if a leak has occurred at the time of the test. It is not an ongoing test. Also, you may have a small leak that is not detected at that time, but grows to be much larger. And thirdly, if the flapper in your tank reseats incorrectly with a faulty flush and then properly reseats itself with a later flush, a dye-tab won’t be able to tell you if water was lost during that time because the toilet will be working fine!

So, if you truly want to monitor the biggest cause of accidental water wastage in your home (the toilet!) it’s important to use a system that watches out for leaks all day, every day.

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.