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Leaky Toilets & Drippy Faucets = High Water Bills

    The EPA estimates that toilet flushes account for nearly 30 percent of your average water consumption per day. And that’s when it’s working correctly.  Older, inefficient toilets that use as much as 6 gallons per flush also happen to be a major source of wasted water in many homes.

          Leaking toilets can lead to thousands of lost gallons every month and they are usually the number one cause of a high water bill.   A constantly running toilet may waste about eight gallons per hour, or 200 gallons per day.  Since water from a leaky toilet runs straight into the sewer line, you may not even notice it—until you get the water bill.

     There are four components that could be responsible: the flush valve, the fill valve, the toilet flapper, or the lever flush assembly. First, listen for hissing or trickling sounds, or a periodic “whoosh” caused by the toilet topping itself off every few minutes. These are all signs that a leak exists.

  1. Put several drops of ordinary food coloring into the toilet tank. Wait a few minutes. If color shows up in the toilet bowl, you have a leak.
  2. Next, turn off the toilet’s water supply (it’s usually a diamond shaped knob, near the wall at the base of the toilet) and mark the water level inside the tank. Wait 15 minutes and then check the water level.
  3. If it has dropped below your mark, the problem is at the bottom of the toilet tank at the flapper or plunger ball. However – if the water level has stayed the same, then the problem is an overflow near the top of the tank, involving the float ball or the fill valve – or both.

     The telltale sign of a leaky faucet – both indoor and outdoor faucets – is the steady drip, drip, drip of water. You might be able to ignore that drip for a while but it’s best to put that faucet high on your repair priority list to avoid high water bills.

     A typical faucet leak of 10 drips per minute wastes nearly one gallon per day, or 29 gallons per month.  But what about fast dripping faucets? A fast drip at 120 drips per minute wastes 11 gallons per day, or 330 gallons per month.  The USGS website has a Drip Calculator so you can see how much water a dripping faucet can cost.  Enter the number of dripping faucets and the number of drips per minute.  The calculator will give you the number of drips per day as well as the number of gallons per day and per year.  

     So, if your water bill appears to have a few extra gallons of water usage, check out your toilets and faucets.  Either one or both may be the cause for the increase.