Did you know it’s not uncommon for more than 20% of homes to have one unidentified water leak? Sometimes these leaks go on for years, completely unnoticed because homeowners inherit small leaks, assuming their water bill is normal. Other times, small water leaks are overlooked because owners assume the overall impact to their utilities is relatively small. But the truth is small leaks can add up hugely over time. Periodic inspection for leaks can help plug this problem at the source. Here are some ways to identify and address typical leaks:
- Track your water bill over time. Most water bills will show your history for several months, if not year-over-year. While there are seasonal reasons for higher water use, especially if you water a lawn or garden, look for unexpected spikes. Yes, something as seemingly innocuous as a running toilet can turn into a big contributor, especially if it’s running 24/7. If the bill spikes, start hunting.
- Listen for the running toilet. You may be so used to hearing a toilet run that it has virtually faded into the background. On the other hand, you may have a running toilet in a guest bathroom you scarcely use. Flush the toilet and time how long it takes to stop. If you find it running for minutes on end, you may have a problem. Open the toilet tank and take a look inside. If the water level is too high (more than 1-inch above the overflow tube), or the flapper isn’t getting a good seal, a repair is in order. You can also test for slow leaks into the bowl by dropping some food coloring into the tank. Drop it in and wait 15 – 20 minutes without flushing. If the color appears in the bowl, you have an issue.
- Inspect shower heads and faucets. Sometimes the connection to the shower head will send water spraying in unintentional directions, contributing to an overall loss of water. You may need to replace the O-ring, soak the head in vinegar to remove minerals, or simply replace the head completely. With faucets, it’s important to look at the source pipes, sometimes they may only leak when the water is running. Look for dampness in those darkened places. Plugging these leaks can also prevent mold buildup.
- Tune-up your irrigation system. Irrigation systems which haven’t aged well or have been damaged by lawn maintenance can be the most insidious leaks of all. Busted sprinkler heads or constantly leaking supply lines can sap your systems efficiency and boost the bill. When the system is running, look for spraying valves and find ways to eliminate overspray onto concrete. A rain sensor is also a great way to make sure you’re not watering your lawn while it’s raining.
Fixing leaks is a must-do before you list your home. But when you’re ready to list, give me a call!