With spring now upon us, many residents have begun making their annual list of cleaning, repairs and outdoor projects. While raking leaves and cleaning up the yard seems commonplace on most spring cleaning to-do lists, watching for leaky faucets and pipes is often overlooked.
With the weather warming up, it is time to check indoor and outdoor faucets, pipes and other water connections around the house.
The Environmental Protection Agency issued a press release last week asking “Americans to Join the Race to Stop Water Leaks.”
According to the release, “Easy-to-fix household leaks account for more than one trillion gallons of water wasted each year across the United States, equal to the annual household water use of more than 11 million homes.”
The EPA states that, “Water leaking from dripping faucets, showerheads and worn toilet flappers in one average American home can account for more than 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year, or the amount of water needed to wash 270 loads of laundry.”
Household leaks can often easily be fixed by the homeowner with simple tools and hardware.
The cost of the hardware often pays for itself, as “Fixing household water leaks can save homeowners about 10 percent on their water bills.”
Pagosa’s winter has been dry, making water conservation a pertinent issue for the upcoming months.
How to check for and handle leaks
Visual checks on faucets and showerheads should inform you whether or not the fixtures are leaking.
Often, faucet and showerhead leaks can be fixed by simply tightening the connections between pipes, or by replacing a worn out gasket or washer. Pipe tape may also be useful in stopping the leak.
To determine if you have a leaking toilet, put a few drops of food coloring into the holding tank at the back of the toilet. Wait 10-15 minutes, then look at the water in the toilet bowl. If color shows up in the bowl, the toilet flapper likely needs to be replaced. This repair can often be made by the homeowner quite easily.
If applicable, check in-ground irrigation systems, making sure there is no damage from winter freezing.
If garden hoses leak while attached to your outdoor spigot, replace the nylon or rubber hose washer and ensure the hose is tightly connected to the spigot; you may also try using pipe tape or a wrench to secure the connection.
There are step-by-step videos on how to fix a leaky toilet and faucet, and other do-it-yourself videos for different types of water leak repairs, on the EPA’s website at http://www.epa.gov/watersense/our_water/howto.html.
Before you start any sort of water repair, be sure to turn off the water line.
If the repair seems to be more advanced than replacing a simple part, do yourself a favor and call in a professional.
If any fixtures need to be replaced, be sure to shop for “WaterSense” labeled models “which are independently certified to use 20 percent less water and perform as well as or better than standard models,” according to the EPA.
Even if faucets are not actively leaking, the EPA recommends double checking and tightening pipe connections and replacing worn fixtures as needed.
Besides checking for leaks, municipal water customers can sign up for a free water monitoring system called AquaHawk, offered through the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District.
According to the PAWSD website, “AquaHawk Alerting will help you manage water consumption, create a monthly water budget, and detect potential water leaks.”
To sign up for the free service, visit http://pawsd.org/aquahawk.html.