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Common types of leaks found in the home include leaking toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and other leaking valves. Repairs to correct these leaks are simple, and in most cases require only a few tools and hardware that pay for themselves in water savings.

Check for Leaks
Fix a Leak: Toilets
Fix a Leak: Showerheads
Fix a Leak: Outdoors
Still Have Leaks?

 

 

 

 

Check for Leaks

water meter

 Here are common methods you can use to help detect leaks in your household.

Examine your water bill. Review the usage analysis graph on the upper right corner of your bill. An unexplained spike in your water consumption could indicate a leak. Don’t forget to account for any change in irrigation scheduling.

Read your water meter. The meter is generally located near the curb in front of your home, housed in a concrete box marked 'water'. You can remove the lid with a large screwdriver. Start by firmly turning off all water using appliances and fixtures inside and outside the house. Next, go outside and record the meter reading, including the sweep hand. Wait 15 minutes and check the meter again. If the reading is unchanged, your house is water tight. If the meter has moved, you have a leak to locate.

Identify toilet leaks by placing a few drops of food coloring in the toilet tank. Look in the bowl after 15 minutes. If you see any color from the dye, you have a leak. (Be sure to flush immediately after the test to avoid staining the tank.)

Examine faucet gaskets and pipe fittings for any water on the outside of the pipe to check for surface leaks.

Perform an outdoor leak audit and check hose bibs, irrigation valves, pool pumps, and ponds.
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Fix a Leak: Toilets

handyman looking at toiletLift the lid off the top of your toilet. Note the water level. It should be about ½ inch below the lip of the overfill tube. If water is leaking over into the tube, adjust the float to bring the water level back down.

 If the water level in the toilet is OK, the culprit is likely the flapper valve. Toilets commonly leak due to a warped or worn out toilet flapper (sometimes called a "valve seal"). Replacing the flapper is an inexpensive and easy fix. Take the old flapper to the hardware store to find a compatible replacement. This toilet repair article gives step by step instructions.
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Fix a Leak: Faucets

kitchen faucet with water dropBathroom and kitchen faucets typically leak because of old washers, gaskets, or O-rings, and corroded valve seats. Turn off the water supply beneath the sink and disassemble the dripping faucet, paying close attention to the order of the parts. Note the faucet's brand and take the parts to your hardware or plumbing supply store to get the correct replacement parts. This video will give instructions on how to repair a leaking faucet.

 While checking for leaks, look to see if your faucet has an aerator – a screen that restricts flow and adds oxygen to the water as it leaves the faucet. Aerators are an inexpensive way to save water each time you turn on the tap. Pick one up at your local hardware store or from the Water Conservation Office.
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Fix a Leak: Showerheads

showerhead with water onMost leaky showerheads can be fixed by making sure there is a tight connection between the showerhead and the pipe stem and by using pipe tape to secure it. Pipe tape, also called Teflon tape, is available at most hardware stores, is easy to apply, and can help tame unruly leaks. Also check and, if needed, replace the washer or "o" ring inside the showerhead while making this repair.

Stop by the Water Conservation Office for a free copy of the Practical Plumbing Handbook. We also offer free low-flow showerheads.
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Fix a Leak: Outdoors

leaking hose bibCheck outdoor equipment for leaks including hose bibs, pool pumps, and ponds. If you have an irrigation system, look for dripping water or puddles at all irrigation valves, sprinklers, emitters, and irrigation connections.

 After sitting all winter, most irrigation systems need a check up. Turn on each circuit and watch it run. Repair or replace any broken or malfunctioning spray heads. Once your system is running again for the season, don’t forget to look for signs of underground line breaks. These include wet and/or sunken soil areas, excessive plant or weed growth in an isolated area, and a drop in pressure along a circuit resulting poor irrigation coverage. An irrigation specialist will be able to make any necessary repairs if you need assistance.

If your irrigation system is old and you have several repairs to make, consider upgrading to low volume, water-efficient irrigation irrigation options such as drip, microspray, soaker hoses, or MP rotator nozzles. 
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Still have Leaks?

US EPA Watersense labelIf you have done all that you can to eliminate leaks from your home but still can't nip that drip, it might be time to replace your leaking fixtures and increase your home's water efficiency. The WaterSense label will help you find some of the most water efficient products on the market. Toilet rebates are available. 
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Last updated: 8/28/2013 9:01:27 AM