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K-State Today

March 20, 2018

Don't be a drip: Do your part during Fix-a-Leak Week

Submitted by Stacie Minson

With the extreme need for water, it's the perfect time for us to do some quick and easy things around our homes and businesses to welcome spring. The week of March 19-25 is National Fix-a-Leak Week. According to EPA's WaterSense project, "household leaks can waste more than 1 trillion gallons of water annually." If each household takes the time to find and fix leaks during National Fix-a-Leak Week, we not only save precious water but also money.

Annually, the average household wastes more than 10,000 gallons of water, and 10 percent of homes waste at least 90 gallons of water per day. For many communities in the Big Creek Middle Smoky Hill River Watersheds, that is a significant amount of water, since 92-180 gallons of water per capita per day is what is used in local cities.

So, how do you know if you have leaks? The best place to start is to look at water usage during winter months possibly in January, February, or March before outdoor watering starts. If a family of four is exceeding 12,000 gallons of water per month, leaks may be the culprit. If you have access to your water meter, check and record the reading and after two hours of no water use, check the reading again. If the meter readings change, you must have leaks somewhere inside your home.

It's the perfect time to find those leaks and get them fixed.

  • Toilet leaks are easily found and quickly fixed. Place a drop of food coloring or use toilet dye tabs in the tank, if any color shows up in the bowl after 10 minutes, there is a leak. Flush immediately to prevent stains. These leaks can usually be stopped with an inexpensive flapper replacement.
  • Examine faucet gaskets and pipe fittings in the kitchen, bathroom, etc. to see if water is visibly present. Sometimes faucets are leaking because of a worn gasket or washer. Showerheads may leak and just need to be tightened, an "o" ring replaced, or Teflon tape replaced.
  • Outdoor irrigation systems: With the arrival of spring, it's now time to ensure there was no freeze/thaw damage in the underground irrigation network. Once systems are turned on, it may be difficult to see or measure these leaks until after the first billing cycle, but could waste thousands of gallons per month.
  • Replacement of toilets, showerheads, faucets and appliances may be the next step if you still need to reduce your monthly water usage footprint. Some communities offer free exchange programs for showerheads and faucets, and rebates for toilets and appliances.

Residents and businesses should take a few moments to check toilets, faucets, showerheads, pipe fittings, irrigation systems, and perhaps consider replacing some of these items, including appliances. It's worth a few minutes to save hundreds of gallons of water, which ultimately saving money and helping your family do its part for Fix-A-Leak Week.

To learn more about water leaks, visit EPA's WaterSense Fix-a-Leak Week homepage. For questions, contact Stacie Minson, K-State watershed specialist, at 785-769-3297, email sedgett@k-state.edu or visit mykansaswatershed.com.

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