WATER LEAKS -- HOME MAINTENANCE
Plumbing & Irrigation Leaks
A constant leak from a hole the size of this dot in a pipe, hose or drip irrigation system will waste about 7,000 gallons in a month, which could cost a customer over $90. Larger leaks from broken pipes gone undetected can easily waste tens of thousands of gallons of water in a matter of days. Leaks, even relatively large ones, may not be obvious if they are in a buried service line or irrigation system or escaping under the house. In these instances, the leaking water may seep into the ground and may not come to the surface where it can be detected. Customers with Beacon meters can program the meter to send them an email or text alert if the meter detects a leak in the plumbing system. Customers without a Beacon meter who suspect they may have a plumbing leak should contact the District’s Customer Service and Billing Office. District field personnel can retrieve information from customers who have a radio-read meter. Customers should always pay attention to the amount of monthly water use shown on their water bill and report any unexplainable increases in water use to the District.
The simplest and most inexpensive way to determine if your toilet is leaking is to put a few drops of blue food coloring into the tank and wait 20 minutes without flushing. If the water in the bowl turns blue after 20 minutes, your toilet tank is leaking. Components that most commonly cause toilets to leak are: 1) Flapper Valves that do not seal properly after flushing 2) Flush handles that are loose or need to be jiggled to keep the toilet from running 3) Overflow tube leaks that occur when the water level in the tank is higher than the overflow tube, causing the water to flow continuously into the overflow tub If you are handy, the best remedy is to replace the component that appears to be causing the leak. You may also contact a handyman or plumber. Tip: Bring the old flapper to the hardware store for comparison to make sure you buy a new flapper that fits your toilet model. You can also check the owner’s manual or the manufacturer’s website for the appropriate replacement part number for the flapper.
Faucet, Shower, and Tub Leaks
Faucet leaks are a common occurrence and usually simple to repair. A faucet dripping slowly at only one drop every two seconds will waste more than 1,000 gallons per year. The repairs necessary to stop the leak depend on the type of faucet, and there are four basic types found in most homes: compression valve, ball types, cartridge types, and ceramic discs. Each type of faucet has unique methods of repair, so if you are accustomed to using tools and making minor home repairs, you should be able to repair minor faucet leaks. Otherwise, contacting a handyman or plumber is recommended.
Water Supply Line Leaks
Sometimes leaks occur between the meter and the home, in the water supply line. This line is part of the customers’ plumbing and therefore maintenance and repair falls within their responsibilities. Leaks from the meter or pipes leading from the water main to the meter are the responsibility of the water utility. Water supply line leaks are often difficult to detect because the supply pipe is usually buried at least 3 feet (.91 m) below the ground surface. Sometimes the leaking water will travel along the pipe and back to the meter. If the meter box contains water and the water is not due to rain or irrigation run-off, this may indicate a leak in the supply line. Another common exit point for the leaking water might be where the supply line rises above the ground and/or enters the house. If the soil is constantly damp at these locations, this might indicate a leak. In cases of severe leaks, the water may seep up towards the ground surface, usually directly above the path of the underground pipe. Due to soil conditions in the Eldorado area, even very large underground leaks may seep into the ground and show no visible signs at the ground surface.
Evaporative Cooler Leaks
In our arid climate, some homes are cooled by evaporative coolers, also known as swamp coolers. The device uses the evaporation of water to cool air sent into the home. Evaporative coolers are most often connected to the home water supply to maintain water in the cooler’s reservoir. The refill valve for the reservoir occasionally fails to close, causing a constant stream of water to enter the reservoir and drain out the overflow line. The overflow line is often connected to the wastewater drain, allowing the leak to persist for months or years before it’s detected. The cooler can be easily checked for leaks by shutting off the equipment and observing any water draining through the overflow line. Leaking coolers can usually be repaired by simply replacing the refill valve, recirculation pump, or water lines.