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Fix A Leak Week – 2015

It’s that time of year again – Fix A Leak Week!

To be honest, the best time to fix a leak is whenever you find one. Believe it or not, some people have trouble recognizing leaks where and when they happen! Not every leak leaves a nice puddle of water on the floor, but a leak of any kind is a leak worth fixing, since leaks consume more than a trillion gallons of treated water per year in the US alone. By reducing leaks, you can save money, energy and help preserve your local environment. In areas where ample water supply is a problem, simply eliminating leaks can help ensure that water remains readily available.

So, what is a leak?

The easiest leaks to identify are “water fountains” – those that dump water everywhere, like broken pipes or leaking pipe joints. These leaks are the ones that typically get fixed fast because they do obvious damage! Most leaks don’t do any damage at all, but these sneaky leaks make up the majority of the trillion gallons wasted each year.

A dripping faucet is an example of a sneaky leak. Because a dripping faucet usually just sends a trickle of water down the drain, we sometimes overlook it. That’s a mistake. A dripping faucet can leak enough water over the course of a week to fill a bathtub! Fixing this kind of leak may be as simple as tightening a loose connection or replacing a washer. Depending upon the kind of fixture you have, you might need to replace the entire faucet. Regardless of the remedy, saving 50-60 gallons per week is worth it!

A broken shower diverter is another kind of sneaky leak. The diverter closes off the tub faucet and forces water up through the showerhead. When a diverter breaks, it rarely stops functioning altogether. You can usually still get water into the showerhead, but you’re also sending a lot of water straight down the bathtub drain. Besides wasting cold water, this kind of leak can also upset the balance between hot and cold water in the shower, and can cause you to drain your hot water tank faster than normal.

By fixing a broken shower diverter, you can reduce your water usage by hundreds of gallons of water per month, and save a little money in the process. Depending upon the type of shower controls you have, this repair may be as simple as replacing a cartridge, or it might require a new shower/tub faucet. Whatever it takes, this repair will pay for itself in a matter of months.

A running toilet is another kind of sneaky leak. If your toilet runs well after the tank has refilled, or takes forever to shut off after a flush, you have a leak. If your toilet turns on to fill the tank periodically, you may need to replace the flapper valve at the bottom of the tank. This valve is a large rubber disc, and it occasionally cracks or wears out. This is not an expensive repair, and your local hardware or home improvement store sells kits to help you replace this valve. If your toilet overfills – that is, it doesn’t shut off when it should – you may be able to simply adjust the float/shut-off mechanism. This zero-dollar fix will pay dividends immediately in the form of lower water bills.

Celebrate Fix-A-Leak Week by spending a few minutes looking for hidden leaks that waste water and drive your water bills up. We can also help you fix more stubborn leaks anytime. Call us at Boston Standard Plumbing & Heating at (617) 288-2911 and we’ll be happy to lend a hand.

Fix A Leak Week: Is Your Home Under Water?

This week is designated as “Fix a Leak Week” and is a good reminder to check your household fixtures for plumbing leaks. With this winter having been a hard one, a really good place to start your inspection is, of course, your outside spigots and lawn irrigation lines. If you didn’t remember to close and drain your hose connections, you could be looking at cracked or broken valves and water lines. Any major leak of this type is one you’ll want to fix immediately, because as the weather warms, you’ll run an increased risk of mold growth in indoor areas, and loss of performance and other damage in outdoor systems.

According to the EPA, water leaks in the average American household can waste more than 10,000 gallons of water each year. Nationally, the agency estimates that leaks consume more than a trillion gallons of water annually. That’s enough water to serve 11 million households. If you think this number sounds high, keep in mind that 10 percent of homes that have water leaks waste more than 90 gallons each day.

Sometimes it can be tough to confirm that you have a water leak. Dripping faucets and leaking connections are easy to see, but other fixtures like your toilets, showers and appliances may hide evidence of their sneaky water consumption. Use your water meter during a short period – say 2 hours – of “water inactivity” in your home to help you determine whether or not your fixtures are secretly consuming water.

You can test toilets for leaks by putting some food coloring in the toilet tank. If the colored water in the tank shows up in the bowl within 15 minutes, your toilet is leaking water. Most often, leaks from the toilet come from a failed or failing flapper valve. Alternately, the tank can fill too much when the toilet is flushed. If you dye your tank water and no colored water shows up in the tank within the test period, flush the toilet to clear out the colored water.

If your toilet doesn’t pass the colored water test, change the flapper valve at the bottom of the tank. This is very easy to do, and it’s a simple, cheap repair. If your toilet tank overfills, you can adjust the refill shut-off point by adjusting the refill valve. Usually, the optimal fill point is marked on the overflow tube in the tank. Try to adjust the refill to shut off at or near this point.

Dripping showers, faucets and connections are also signs of water leaks. Sometimes, simply tightening the connections around these fixtures can eliminate drips, but be careful not to overtighten the connections. Mineralization and debris from the water system can foul valves, making them difficult to close completely. Sometimes, just taking the valve apart and cleaning it or using Teflon tape around the connections can restore proper, drip-free operation.

If that doesn’t eliminate the drip in your faucet, you may need to replace a washer or ceramic disk. In some sealed faucets, these may not be replaceable. In this case, you’ll replace the entire faucet instead.

Outdoor irrigation systems can be a source of significant water waste. Even a very small leak or crack in an irrigation system hose can waste more than 6,000 gallons of water per month. It pays to inspect your outdoor watering system (or have a professional inspect it) every year before you begin outdoor watering.

If you have a major break in your water line or you know that you have a leak but just can’t find it, please contact us at Boston Standard Plumbing and Heating for immediate repair services. We offer true 24/7 emergency assistance for all of your plumbing, heating and cooling needs. Call us at (617) 288-2911 anytime. Don’t forget to like Boston Standard Plumbing on Facebook, and enjoy a leak-free summer!