WATER LEAKS -- HOME MAINTENANCE

Plumbing and 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.  It is also important to note that 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 new 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. Those customers may have a radio-read meter that records their water use profile, and District field personnel can retrieve that information. 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.

Toilet Leaks

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.  The 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 tube.  If you are handy, the best remedy is to replace the component that appears to be causing the leak.  If you are not sure, replace all of the parts inside the tank.  Repair kits are inexpensive and can be purchased at most hardware or home improvement stores.  If you are not handy, it is advisable to 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, if you have it, or the manufacturer's website for the appropriate replacement part number for the flapper.

Evaporative Cooler Leaks  

In our arid climate, some homes are cooled by evaporative coolers, also called swamp coolers.The device uses the evaporation of water to cool air sent into the home.  The 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 wastewater drain, allowing the leak to persist for months or years before the water waste is 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, re-circulation pump, or water lines.

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 depends 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. If you are accustomed to using tools and making minor home repairs you should be able to repair minor faucet leaks.  Otherwise, it is advisable to contact a handyman or plumber.

Water Supply Line Leaks

There are sometimes leaks between the meter and the home, in the water supply line.  These leaks are often difficult to There are sometimes leaks between the meter and the home, in the water supply line. This line is part of the customers’ plumbing and their maintenance and repair 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, 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.  However, 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.