Dripping hints: What are your pipes telling you?

Dripping hints: What are your pipes telling you?
Doug Brand

By – March 19, 2019 – Comment

Our pipes may be out of sight – but given that they keep our life flowing, they’re never out of mind. From morning showers, to filling up water bottles for school and work, washing veggies for lunch and getting dishes cleaned up after a long day, the water they provide is fueling our life. But could they be drip-dropping hints that some repairs and maintenance may be needed?

The U.S. EPA WaterSense program’s Fix a Leak Week, observed March 18–24, provides the information and resources to figure out what our pipes are telling us, and how to take action at home or at work.

First, let’s talk about water conservation hints. Did you know that if every American repaired household leaks, collectively we’d prevent more than 1 trillion gallons of water loss in the U.S. every year. Now, if you’re thinking, “Okay, but my household is just one out of millions, so me fixing a leak won’t make a big difference”—think again! Ten percent of U.S. homes waste an average of 90 gallons of water a day due to leaks, and the average residence loses 10,000 gallons of water per year. That’s far from just a drop in the bucket! Even if you were to fix just one leak in your house (but, we know you’ll of course fix all of them!), the impact would be significant.

Second, let’s look at some hints that may be right in front of you – on your water bill. On average, a homeowner can reduce his or her water bill by 10 percent by repairing leaks. If you consider how every drip-drip-drip adds up, it’s easy to understand the economic impact. For example: Fixing a leaky faucet can save the same amount of water you’d use in 180 showers (3,000 gallons/year); repairing a leaky showerhead can save enough for 60 loads of dishes (500 gallons/year); and taking care of a leak— even one as thin as a dime—in your irrigation system can save 6,300 gallons every month.

Third, before leaving the economic topic, let’s consider how ignoring these hints could leave to bigger problems down the road. We just discussed the drip-by-drip costs. But, if left unrepaired, that quiet little leak will eventually turn to a roar, causing property damage that’s anything from minor to catastrophic. Homeowner insurance providers say that claims from water leaks can range from $3,000 to $25,000, with the average single-incident claim being $7,000. Our subsidiary, American Water Resources, offers protection plans for water and sewer service lines, as well as in-home plumbing system, for a low monthly price. Spending just a few minutes enrolling now can save you significant money, time and headaches in the long run.

Now, let’s look at the best part about finding and repairing leaks: Most homeowners can do this themselves—no plumber required! Moreover, you probably already have the tools and at least some of the supplies you’ll need, and if not, the cost to obtain them will be minimal. Here are some helpful hints to look out for that may indicate a leak is present:

  1. A family of four uses more than 12,000 gallons of water per month
  2. Your water meter changes during a two-hour period when water is not in use (i.e., no one is home)
  3. If a drop of food coloring in your toilet tank makes its way to the toilet bowl within 10 minutes
  4. Faucet gaskets or pipe fittings show surface water

The WaterSense website also offers great tips on where to look for and how to fix leaks, specifically some of the biggest culprits—toilets, faucets, showerheads and outdoor systems. In the spirit of Fix a Leak Week, be sure to check out the site, inspect your plumbing and keep up the practice regularly—at least every season and after extreme temperature changes. Your pipes may be dropping hints they need repair – be sure to take heed!