Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Fix a Leak Week

Last week was National Groundwater Awareness Week, and in continuing with the water week theme, this week Americans are encouraged to Fix a Leak. 

According to U.S. EPA, household leaks waste more than 1 trillion gallons of water per year—that's equivalent to the annual water use of Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami combined—and ten percent of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day.  Fixing leaks in your home will help save money on your water bill, and more importantly, save water for future generations.

To check for leaks, 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.  Or you can 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.

So check your faucets, toilets, showerheads, and hoses for leaks this week:
  • Check the washers and gaskets on your faucets and showerheads for wear and replace them if necessary.  A faucet leaking at just one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons of water per year, and a showerhead leaking at 10 drips per minute wastes more than 500 gallons per year.  Most leaky showerheads can be fixed by ensuring a tight connection using pipe tape and a wrench.
  • Place a few drops of food coloring in your toilet tank and check the bowl for color after a few minutes or before flushing.  If your toilet is running constantly, you could be wasting 200 gallons or more of water every day.  If your toilet is leaking, the cause is most 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.
  • 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.
  • Landscape irrigation systems should be checked each spring before use to make sure it was not damaged by frost or freezing.  An irrigation system with pressure set at 60 pounds per square inch that has a leak 1/32nd of an inch in diameter (about the thickness of a dime) can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month.
In many cases, fixture replacement parts pay for themselves quickly and can be installed by do-it-yourselfers or a trusted professional plumber.

For more information on events going on to promote Fix a Leak Week, visit http://www.epa.gov/watersense/fixaleak.

For more information on U.S. EPA's WaterSense program, including tips, rebates, water use calculators, quizzes, and more, visit http://www.epa.gov/watersense.


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