Your water is running. You better go catch it.

The average household wastes 10,000 gallons of water every year according to the Environmental Protection Agency. A leak means water is gradually, and sometimes slowly, being lost from a system (toilet, sprinkler line, faucet, etc.,), and whether it’s a drip or a geyser, the gallons add up. The impacts on your home are serious, and they include low water pressure, mold, saturated landscaping, and higher-than-usual billing statements. In Southern California where droughts are a reality, leaks mean that water that could be saved for dry years is being wasted. 

March 14, 2023, marks the start of “Fix a Leak” week when water agencies around the nation call upon customers to take a walk around their property and make sure we aren’t losing precious water to leaks. Here’s our cheat sheet about how to spot and fix a leak at your home.

How can you detect a leak? 

Check your bill: If your bill shows an unexpected spike in water usage, that could be a sign of a leak. Seasonal needs for water change over the year, so if you’ve reduced your irrigation schedule to account for winter weather (Thanks, rainfall!), and your bill stays the same, that’s another sign that you might be losing water somewhere. 

Check your meter: Your friendly on-property water meter is a great tool to help you inspect for water waste. If you’re not using water and your meter’s flow indicator is moving, there is a leak somewhere. 

Check your toilet: Toilet leaks are one of the top ways to waste water and are usually difficult to identify. To catch a toilet leak, place a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If the food coloring winds up in the bowl within ten minutes, you have a leak, and the flapper (the red flapper in the image below) might need replacing. 

How can you fix a leak? 

Here are a few helpful tips on fixing a variety of leaks at home. 

  • To fix a toilet leak, you can either replace the chain that controls the flapper, tighten the nut that holds the toilet handle to the tank or check the condition of the flapper. If you get rubber residue on your fingers from the flapper, it needs to be replaced. 
  • To fix a single-handle faucet leak, you can replace the O-rings found inside the spout or replace the seats and springs from within the spout. 
  • To fix a showerhead leak, you can use pipe tape to tightly secure the showerhead and pipe stem. 

Why worry about leaks?

Our region’s water agencies work hard to responsibly secure local and imported water for the health and safety of customers. It is precious, so wasting it has long-lasting impacts. We are here to make sure Southern California has safe and reliable tap water, and with your help, we can help that water go as far as possible. Let’s come together this month and make it a priority to consistently monitor our water systems, your future will thank you!

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