Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - 8:10am
March 14-20 is "Fix a Leak Week"
The Madison Water Utility joins with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's WaterSense program to mark "Fix a Leak Week," March 14-20, as a time to remind Americans to check their household fixtures for leaks.
While these leaks might sometimes seem like small problems, over time they can waste both valuable water resources and money. On average, a U.S. household can leak 10,000 gallons of water per year with only tiny leaks-but enough to fill a backyard swimming pool! A bad toilet leak could increase that waste to over 100,000 gallons per year! Plus, fixing easily corrected household water leaks can save homeowners more than 10 percent on their water bills.
Common types of leaks found in the home are leaking toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and other leaking valves. These types of leaks are easily correctable, in most cases requiring only a few tools and hardware that will easily pay for themselves in water savings.
Besides hearing that constantly running toilet or the annoying faucet dripping in the middle of the night, how do you know if you have water leaks? Here are some suggestions:
Take a look at your water usage during a cold month. If a family of four exceeds 12,000 gallons per month, there are serious leaks. In Madison, average usage for a family of four, without leaks, is closer to 8,400 gallons per month.
Check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter changes at all, you probably have a leak.
Identify toilet leaks by placing a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank and letting it sit for at least 10 minutes. If any color shows up in the bowl before you flush, you have a leak. (Be sure to flush immediately after the experiment to avoid staining the tank.)
Examine faucet gaskets and pipe fittings for any water on the outside of the pipe to check for surface leaks.
For more information about detecting and fixing household water leaks, visit http://www.epa.gov/watersense/water_efficiency/fix_a_leak.html.
Old, water-guzzling toilets can also waste lots of water and increase water bills. If you decide to replace an old toilet fixture, you can qualify for a $100 rebate from the Madison Water Utility. For more information, check the utility's website at www.cityofmadison.com/water.
- Gail Gawenda, Water Utility PIO608:266-9129