Fix household water leaks and save an average of 10,000 gallons a year

Contact: Mary Connor, 651-757-2629

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is challenging residents to check for water leaks in their homes during national Fix-a-Leak Week, March 20-26. The average U.S. household wastes more than 10,000 gallons of water a year through leaks.

In general, water is being drawn out of Minnesota’s aquifers faster than it is being replenished. Groundwater is the primary source of clean water to the Twin Cities metro area and other places around the state. Nationally, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that household leaks waste 1 trillion gallons of water each year — enough to supply the needs of Chicago, Miami and Los Angeles combined.

Limiting water waste will be one key to ensuring we have adequate water in the future.

Common types of household leaks include worn toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and other leaking valves. All are easily correctable. One way 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.

“It’s easy to overlook a toilet leak or tune out a faucet drip. Fix-a-Leak Week is just a good reminder to check for water waste, and make the necessary fixes,“ says MPCA spokesperson Erin Barnes-Driscoll. “There are tons of how-to videos online that can show you how to do the work. No need to call a plumber!”

Toilets are especially leak-prone: the EPA estimates that 20 percent of all toilets leak. But because leaking toilets are often silent, the problem can go unnoticed while your home is “robbed” of up to 300 gallons or more of water a day. Put a few drops of food coloring in your toilet tank. Wait 15-20 minutes and see if color appears in the bowl. If so, you have a leak.

Learn more about finding and fixing leaks and conserving water on the MPCA Conserving water webpage and the EPA WaterSense webpage. If you live in Minnesota and while supplies last, you can also order a free packet of leak detection tablets online, call 651-757-2999, or email leakdetection.pca@state.mn.us.