The concept of wasting a precious natural resource like clean water is unpleasant enough – but it becomes truly aggravating when homeowners consider its effect on home water bills. Leaking water means you’re leaking money out of your budget at all times. That’s why it’s so important to detect and fix any leaks throughout your property as soon as possible.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), residential water leaks are responsible for wasting more than 1 trillion gallons of water every year in the United States. That’s equal to the annual household water use of more than 11 million homes. More specifically:
- The average household’s leaks can account for more than 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year, which is the amount of water needed to wash 270 loads of laundry.
- Ten percent of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day.
- Fixing easily corrected household water leaks can save homeowners about 10 percent on their water bills.
So let’s take a closer look at how to identify these culprits of waste in your home.
The EPA has also found that a leaky faucet dripping at a rate of one drip per second can waste 3,000 gallons per year. That’s the amount of water needed to take more than 180 showers!
Faucet leaks are the most common ones in the home environment. They can include:
- The steady drip, which indicates the washer, seals or other parts within the faucet likely need to be replaced.
- The leak that only happens at certain times of the day, like at night or when no other plumbing fixture is in use. This could mean that your home water pressure is too high. Most pipes and faucets can withstand only up to a specific level of water pressure, and any extra pressure can cause leaks. These leaks can start small in the faucet and eventually turn into pinhole leaks in the pipes that only get worse over time. If you notice this sort of leak, call a licensed plumber to have your water pressure evaluated and restored to a proper level.
- Any leak caused by pipe failure. When a pipe has a crack or the fitting is loose, not only will it leak at that point, but often it will also leak at the faucet closest to the point of failure. Regularly check the pipes underneath every sink for small cracks, holes or anything loose where the pipes connect. This sort of leak can also occur behind the walls, so make sure you have your house regularly inspected by a plumbing professional.
Toilets tend to be the most common culprits of bathroom leaks. A running toilet can waste a full gallon of water in just 30 seconds! “Running” leaks often mean you need to replace a faulty part like the flapper or floater in the water tank. However, you also need to be on the lookout for leaks that occur at the flange and wax ring (on the floor), as these leaks can be very damaging to floors.
Tubs and showers are designed to funnel water to the drains and down the drains into the pipes. You’ve probably noticed that these fixtures are sealed anywhere there’s an opening or edge to prevent water damage. Keep an eye on those seals, because if they fail and water starts to seep out, you likely won’t recognize the damage immediately. For instance, water that soaks into subflooring over time can create a hospitable environment for mold growth that can ruin your floor and make your family sick. Look out for seal failures, unexplained puddles, odd smells, and any water stains, particularly in the celling below any upstairs bathroom.
Most Texan homeowners are well aware of the dangers to outdoor pipes in the winter. In freezing weather, water within the pipes can expand as it freezes and crack or burst the pipes. So most of us understand how to freeze-proof our outdoor pipes in the winter.
There’s another danger to outdoor pipes, though: Your thirsty landscaping! Even a tiny water leak from underground pipes or fittings can attract plants to take root. Damage caused by tree root intrusion is one of the most destructive and expensive leaks you can have on your property. Regularly patrol your property for any new wet spots or low spots or any sudden drop in water pressure; if you notice any, don’t delay. Call your licensed plumber immediately, before the problem gets worse and more expensive.
Like anything else in your house, your plumbing just doesn’t work as well when it gets too old. Rust and other forms of corrosion can eat away at your pipes until they leak and, as we’ve noted above, any joints or fittings can fail and develop leaks. Be aware of discolorations on your plumbing as well as any warping or any ticking and banging noises, especially when you use the hot water. If you notice any of these symptoms, call your licensed plumber. If your home is full of older plumbing, you can save yourself a lot of worry and trouble by signing up for annual maintenance calls.
No homeowner wants to face the day they find a huge lake around their old water heater. However, it’s a fact that water heaters have an average life expectancy according to size and model, so make sure you know what yours is and replace it on schedule. Regular maintenance can contribute to the lifespan of your unit by checking the anode and flushing any sediment buildup.
Of course, the best way to prevent any problems with your water heater is to replace it with a tankless water system. These are easier to maintain than the old tank design, last longer, use much less energy, and provide your perfect temperature of water on demand. Learn more about professional installation and maintenance.
Closing Down the Culprits
While you’re checking vigilantly around your property for water leaks, don’t forget to monitor your water bill and even read your water meter to watch for any unexplained changes. For complete peace of mind, join Horizon Plumbing’s Preferred Customer Club. We’ll schedule an annual, whole-house check of your plumbing as well as the water heater and other fixtures; you’ll also get an annual water pressure check, preferred pricing on plumbing services, and more.
To have your home’s plumbing inspected by a licensed plumber in the DFW metroplex, contact Horizon Plumbing today or call 817-790-9595.