Plumbing Tips – Water Bills
There are several ways to find out if your water bills are higher than they need to be.
- Check faucets for dripping water. Fix a leaky faucet promptly. Be sure to check under sinks for moisture or leaks.
- Periodically check your toilets for leaks:
- Place a few drops of food coloring in the tank – not the bowl. A couple of tablespoons of instant coffee or Kool-Aid will work too.
- Check the toilet after about thirty minutes. If the water in the bowl has some of the color in it, the tank is leaking and the stopper and valve seat may need to be replaced.
- Check for underground leaks or undetected leaks in the home:
- Turn off the main water valve inside your home and then go outside and check your water meter. If it is still turning you may have an underground leak.
- Alternatively, write down the numbers on your water meter at the beginning of a period when your home is going to be unoccupied for a few hours. Check the meter when you return; if the numbers have changed, they may be a leak somewhere inside the home
Saving water is like any other habit. The more you do it, the more natural it becomes. Become water-wise, it’s fun to find more ways to conserve.
Sometimes a small investment can pay large dividends. For example, buying a low-flush toilet can save over 18,000 gallons of water a year! It’s up to all of us – individuals, businesses, industry – to save the earth’s resources.
So remember, wherever you go, take your water-consciousness along. What works at home, works at the office!
- Watch for leaks.
- Pay attention to the SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS of plumbing.
- Check all faucets for drips.
- If a drip fills an 8-ounce glass every quarter hour, it will lose about 180 gallons per month. That’s 2,160 gallons a year, enough for 30+ showers or baths! Drips can usually be fixed by replacing inexpensive washers or valve seats.
- Install flow restrictors or other conservation devices on all faucets. With these in the shower alone, you can cut your water use from about 5 to 10 gallons per minute to as low as 1.4 to 3 gallons per minute.
- Wrap exposed indoor and outdoor pipes to prevent breakage in freezing weather.
In the Kitchen/Laundry
One of the most common areas for water loss is the kitchen sink area.
- Check under cupboards once a week for wet spots or bowed cabinetry.
- Keep drinking water in the refrigerator so you don’t have to run the tap until the water gets cold enough to drink.
- Only run full loads in your dishwasher.
- Scrape food from plates with a utensil, not running water.
- Don’t continuously run water in the sink.
- Hand wash dishes in a sink full of soapy water; rinse all at once. Soak hard-to clean pans overnight.
In the Bathroom
- Check sinks for drips or leaks once a week.
- Check grout and tiles in shower area.
- Are any loose? Is grout missing, allowing water to flow beneath the tiles?
- Check toilets for leaks.
- Drop a teaspoon of food coloring into the tank.
- If the color appears in the bowl after 15 minutes, have the “flapper” valve replaced.
- If leaks continue, have a professional check your system.
- Decrease the amount of water used per flush. Replace regular or older toilets with new ultra-low flush models or put water displacement devices inside every toilet tank.
- Make them from plastic water bottles weighted down with pebbles. DO NOT PUT BRICKS IN YOUR TANK. They can dissolve and clog siphon jets.
- This test should be conducted for a 30 minute period, during which time no water is being used on the property.
- Find your water meter, which is usually located in front of the house in a covered box near the street.
- Write down the numbers indicated on the meter at the start of this test.
- Return to check the meter reading after 30 minutes have passed.
- If the numbers have not changed, you do not have a leak in your pressurized water system. If the numbers have changed, continue with the following steps.
- Shut off the valves under all toilets in the house, and repeat steps 1-4.
If the numbers have not changed, you may have a running toilet that should be serviced.