Save yourself money and headaches by learning how to stop and prevent water leaks before they start.
A leaky faucet or a pipe with a small leak may seem harmless, but even small amounts of wasted water can quickly turn into costly problems. Save yourself money and headaches by learning how to stop water leaks and potential damage before they start.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), water leaks are responsible for an estimated 10,000 gallons of water wasted per year in a home. And a small unchecked leak can turn into a pool that causes serious problems. Excess moisture can destroy furniture, carpets, walls, and more.
In a 2020 report, the Insurance Information Institute announced that between 2013 and 2017 the average number of claims for frost and water damage was $ 10,234. In 2017 frost and water damage losses were about 19% of loss claims filed by homeowners. The cost can skyrocket when the home also suffers structural damage. Undetected water can also be a health risk by promoting the growth of mold, mildew, and bacteria. Hidden behind walls, they can make allergies or asthma worse and cause breathing problems in healthy family members.
Fortunately, the most common sources of water leakage are easy to correct. For example, quickly replacing a toilet flush valve or fixing a leaky faucet can save about 10% of your water bill and could help prevent more serious problems.
How to save water and ensure that your home is in perfect condition
The inner pipe is one of the great innovations of civilization, but it is not perfect. Pipes that carry water are the common source of leaks. The risk increases as they age because the joints in the pipe can deteriorate over time. Common causes of leaky pipes are:
. Rusting or corrosion of galvanized steel pipe or metal fittings and newer PVC or copper pipe fittings;
. Too much water pressure; fixtures and appliance hoses can hold up to a certain pressure before failing.
. Cracked or broken pipes and hoses, which can occur with time, pressure, or freezing;
To avoid these problems, replace galvanized pipes with plastic pipes if possible and hire a plumber every few years to inspect your pipes for rust. If your home has a water pressure regulator, adjust it or hire a plumber to take care of pressure problems. Lastly, insulate exposed pipes and those in the attic, basement, or crawl space. Once a pipe has a leak, it is best to ask a professional to repair it. A sign that tells us that there is a leak is the decrease or inconsistency of the water pressure. If you notice such problems with your water faucets, call a plumber.
When you imagine water damage, you can imagine a flooded basement or a waterfall pouring out of a toilet. But most problems don’t start with giant splashes; most commonly, they start with a small leak that goes unnoticed. Early intervention is key. Waiting too long increases your utility bill and allows water to accumulate to a destructive point that can result in expensive restoration expenses. How do you know if your home hides water leaks?
. Check your water bill: Check the amount of use during the colder months. A household of four that uses more than 12,000 gallons a month probably has some serious leaks.
. Call your water utility company: Ask if your utility provider has a leak detection program that alerts homeowners about unusually high water use. If so, find out how the system works so that you can take appropriate action.
. Carry out a meter check: Record your water meter reading; then close all the water taps inside and outside your home and make sure no one uses anything that requires water for two hours. Record the reading again; if it increased, there is probably a leak. These procedures can help identify the presence of leaks, but they do not tell you their locations. That requires additional investigation, beginning with examining the most common culprits – pipes, appliances, toilets, faucets, and the home’s exterior.
As Benjamin Franklin stated: “An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure;” Help protect your home from water damage by using water leak alarms in various strategic locations.
These sensors can detect water in areas that are difficult to see; an alarm goes off for something as small as one-sixteenth of an inch of water. Basic battery-operated detectors typically cost $ 5 to $ 10. Other models, for about $ 35, connect with smart home systems, such as Wink and Smart Things. Use alarms under or near toilets, sinks, refrigerators with ice machines, dishwashers, clothes washers, water heaters, sump pump cavities, whole-house humidifiers, window air conditioners, and any other area that previously leaked.
Evaluate all machines
Many electrical appliances and mechanical systems use a lot of water. When they have problems, they can leak and cause costly damage. Routine maintenance can help!
. Dishwasher: If a hose leaks or bursts, it can quickly flood your kitchen with gallons of water. The problem is more common with rubber hoses; for $ 20 replace with stronger options with metallic fabric.
. Clothes washer: Half of the leaks result in broken water supply lines, which can loosen with vibration and deteriorate over time. Check your hoses frequently for cracks and kinks and replace them every three to five years as part of your proactive maintenance program.
. Water heater: According to Bob Vila, the average life of a water heater is eight to 12 years. Tankless water heaters can last up to 20 years. Angie’s List recommends draining the tank every year. Check annually for corrosion, leaks, and a bulging tank. Have a professional check the anode bars for rust every two years.
. Whole House Humidifier: If a humidifier’s recharge valve fails, the water can leak directly into your sewer. Inspect equipment frequently during the heating season and turn off the water supply when not in use.
Considering how often we use them, it’s not surprising that toilets are common sources of leaks. In fact, more than a third of all residential toilets have at least small leaks. Even worse, water damage from toilets averaged $ 15,000 in homeowner claims, according to State Farm records.
Most toilet leaks are easy to find. Ten minutes after unloading, remove the tank cover. If the water level is above the overflow tube, you have a leak.
Another way to check: Put several drops of food coloring in the tank; if the color appears in the cup within 10 minutes, there is a leak. If the toilet valve makes a semi-regular or constant hissing or gurgling noise, there is probably a large leak.
Some toilet leaks are easy to fix, while others require a skilled professional. Before hiring help, try replacing the fill valve. Oftentimes, a worn or bent rubber fill valve with a poor seal is the reason for the problem. Replacing this $ 5 part is so easy; most homeowners can do it themselves. If a new fill valve doesn’t stop the leak, call a plumber. The problem could be a broken part, such as the refill valve or a loose gasket or pin.
Most problems can be fixed with little money. However, if the problem is a cracked tank or bowl, the only solution is to replace the entire toilet. When replacement is necessary, consider investing in a Water Sense labeled model. This third-party certification means that the toilet uses 20% less water than the federal standard.
Assess faucets for possible leaks
A leaky faucet or showerhead is more than just a nuisance. EPA states that a one drop per second leak can waste more than 3,000 gallons of water per year. Damage caused by a water leak in the sink can cost thousands of dollars in repairs.
Faucets have many moving parts that can deteriorate, making them a common place for leaks over time. There are four basic types of faucets, and each one is repaired a little differently. To stop a slow leak, first replace any worn-out accessories inside (washers, gaskets, O-rings, cartridges, and ceramic discs) and make sure they are secure. You can probably find a tutorial online.
It’s also a good idea to remove mineral build-up from the aerator once a year by removing and dipping it in vinegar. If those steps don’t solve the problem, hire a plumber.
Also remember to inspect the faucets in your bathtub or shower, on the water heater, and in the laundry and utility sinks, as well as on the exterior of your home.
Showerheads can also cause water-related problems, but fixing a leak is often as simple as using Teflon tape and a wrench to reinforce the connection between the end of the pipe and the showerhead. Replacing the washer or O-ring inside the showerhead can also be done. As with the faucet, it is also good to remove the showerhead annually and immerse it in vinegar.
Leaks that are not solved by these tricks can be caused by valves or other parts that a licensed plumber should fix.