April 15, 2024
Fix-A-Leak week reminds consumers to save water and money

Finding and fixing leaks in the home, yard and workplace is the focus of Fix-a Leak Week, which starts Monday. The sponsor  — the Environmental Protection Agency — says household leaks caused by faulty toilet flappers, loose pipes and poor water fixture connections account for nearly 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year, with 10% of homes having leaks that waste 90 gallons or more daily.

To check for leaks in the home, follow these steps:

  • Start by looking at your water bill from a colder month. There are probably serious leaks if a family of four exceeds 12,000 gallons per month.
  • Identify toilet leaks by placing a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. There’s a leak if any color appears in the bowl after 15 minutes.
  • Check for fixture surface leaks by examining faucet gaskets and pipe fittings for water on the outside of the pipe. Shower head leaks are obvious — and easy to fix, requiring a few tools and hardware.
  • For homes with an in-ground irrigation system, check it each spring for damage from frost or freezing. An irrigation system of 1/32nd of an inch in diameter (about the thickness of a dime) can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month.
  • Turn on the garden hose to see if there is a leak in the connection to the spigot. If so, replace the nylon or rubber hose washer and fit it tightly to the spigot using pipe tape and a wrench.
  • Look for signs of wall cracks, mold, mildew and odor, and call a professional to locate the leak source and assess the situation.

In many cases, fixture replacement parts pay for themselves quickly and can be installed by do-it-yourselfers or plumbing professionals. Waiting to make the repairs could work against you. Left unattended, leaks can damage surrounding walls and structures.

While devoting a week to finding and fixing water leaks is a good annual reminder, it is wise to check year-round. Not only do we rely on water for cooking, cleaning and drinking, water is the foundation for health care, fire protection, and industry and business throughout Hampton Roads. The longer we wait to fix a leak, the more these resources will go down the drain.

Katie Cullipher and Rebekah Eastep are team leaders of the askHRgreen.org public awareness and
education campaign for the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission. 

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