In Minnesota, recent droughts coupled with growing water demands are putting a strain on our water resources. Water leaks are both costly and wasteful. Nationally, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 1 trillion gallons of water are wasted each year through household leaks — enough to supply the needs of Chicago, Miami and Los Angeles combined.
Toilets are especially leak-prone (20 percent of all toilets leak), but because toilet leaks are often silent, you may not know that you have one. A leaky toilet can waste as much as 200 gallons of water every day.
3 things you can do to find and fix leaks
Check your toilet for leaks
Toilet leaks often are caused by a bad flapper. Other sources include a bad flapper valve seat or water control valve, an improperly positioned float arm, or a defective overflow tube. Check out some simple videos showing how a toilet works, finding leaks, and fixing them.
Use your water meter to check for leaks
Start by making sure that all water-using appliances inside and outside the house are not in use. Turn off automatic ice-makers too. If your meter has a low flow indicator (see example), it should not be turning. If it is, water is passing through the meter and there are leaks. Otherwise, note the meter reading on the dial and then check again after an hour. If the meter has moved, then you likely have leaks.
Fix dripping faucets and shower heads
Did you know that a dripping faucet can waste 20 gallons of water a day? If the dripping water is hot, it’s wasting energy and costing you to heat the water. A faucet leak is often caused by a bad rubber washer, which is typically located under the handle. Water dripping or running from the shower head when the shower is turned firmly off typically is caused by bad washers or seats in the valve. Check hardware or plumbing supply stores, home improvement centers or the internet for replacement washers or parts.
Want to do more?
Make water-efficient product choices
Look for the WaterSense label when you are shopping for plumbing fixtures, which flags products that meet EPA WaterSense criteria for efficiency and performance.
Find out about other ways to conserve water.
The MPCA is a promotional partner of WaterSense®, an EPA program that promotes the value of water efficiency and water-efficient products to consumers.