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Leaks cost money; Is your hard-earned money going right down the drain?

As you lie in bed at night and hear the annoying drip of a leaky faucet or the water continuously running in your toilet, you are literally listening to money go down the drain. Leaky faucets and toilets waste thousands of gallons of water per household each year, a costly mistake for both your wallet and the environment.

An unusually high water bill is most often caused by a money-down-the-drainleak or change in water use. A leaking toilet, a toilet that continues to run after being flushed, a dripping faucet, a broken pipe or obvious leak and water softener problems are just a few of the common causes of high water bills. Fixing household water leaks can save homeowners about 10 percent on their water bills. The average costs of a fast dripping faucet can end up costing you $60 to $200 a year. Leaky toilets can cost $840 a year! Follow these tips to help reduce the amount of wasted water and keep your money in your pocket!

Tip #1: Know how to read your water meter

It is important to know how to read your water meter in order to monitor your water use and watch for water leaks. First you will need to locate the water meter on your property. Be very careful when removing your meter box lid. Do not drop the lid on the meter!

Most meters look like the one pictured. The dial will rotate when water passes through the meter. One full rotation of the dial equals one cubic foot of water or 7.48 gallons. The Low Flow Indicator will rotate with very little water movement. Any water moving through the meter is detected so even small leaks will register. The odometer records total water use in a similar way as the odometer in your car records miles driven. It records water use in cubic feet and cannot be altered.

Tip #2: How to monitor your water use

Read the odometer and write it down completely. Then write down the date you read it. After a period of days (example: 7 days) read the odometer again and write it down along with the date. Subtract the first reading from the second reading. This is your water use in cubic feet during the period. Multiply the water use by 7.48. This is your water use in gallons for that period. Divide the water use in gallons by the number of days between readings. This is your average gallon per day usage for the period.

Tip #3: How to watch for leaks

Leaks, whether unseen or unfixed, can waste hundreds and even thousands of gallons of water as well as drain your pocketbook. It’s important to routinely check your plumbing and home for leaky faucets, toilets, and outside taps and irrigation lines.

One way to detect a leak is to check your water meter before and after a time period when no water is being used (example: 4 hours). Turn off all water indoors and outdoors including sprinklers, ice maker, etc. If the meter shows no obvious movement, note the reading on the meter and return in four hours to see if there is a change. If you do notice movement, check all appliances, faucets, toilets and other water sources for drips and leaks. (Note: if you use water during that time the meter reading will change so make sure no water is being used).

Tip #4: The most common leaks

Toilet and faucet leaks, outdoor and underground leaks and irrigation systems all can be a water leak culprit. Check these options to make sure they are working properly.

Faucet leaks – A dripping faucet can waste 20 gallons of water or more a day! It’s rather easy to overlook a leaky faucet but there are ways to check. Look for a puddle of water around a faucet that has been turned off. Wrap a towel around the faucet or hang a plastic bag under the faucet and check to see if any water collects throughout the day. You can even do this in the shower! A leaking shower head can waste more than 500 gallons per year. That’s the amount of water it takes to wash 60 loads of dishes in your dishwasher!

Toilets – The most common cause for a high water bill is running water from your toilet. This can double a family’s typical water use so fix toilet leaks as soon as possible. One way to find out if you have a toilet leak is to place a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If the color shows up in the bowl within 15 minutes without flushing, you have a leak. Make sure to flush immediately after this experiment to avoid staining the tank!

Outdoor and underground leaks – Leaks can occur in harder to find places, such as under your house or in the service line between your water meter and your home. Check outdoor spigots and crawl spaces as well as look for wet spots in your yard, which may indicate a leak.

Irrigation systems – During the summer irrigation systems are a common source of high water use. Irrigation systems should be checked regularly to be sure they are functioning properly and have no leaks or broken sprinkler heads. It’s a good idea to check each spring before use as well to make sure it was not damaged by frost or freezing. A leak 1/32nd of an inch in diameter (about the thickness of a dime) can waste about 6,300 gallons of water a month!

If you receive a water bill that you feel is too high, check over the common causes listed above. This may help pinpoint the source of the high bill. The utility company can also send someone out to check the meter and property for a leak. If the meter reading is checked and found to be accurate, you may need to contact a licensed plumber … Carter’s My Plumber!