Water leaks will consume between 5 and 10 percent of all residential water consumption. Most of the leakage is due to worn out faucet washers and faulty toilet tank valves. One drop per second can waste seven gallons per day. A steady drip will waste 20 gallons per day.
Faucet leaks are easy to repair. Installing a new washer will usually correct the leak. I f the faucet begins leaking after the washer is changed, it may be necessary to replace the valve set.
A more serious type of leak that occurs in toilet tanks can waste up to 200 gallons of water a day. A simple way to check for a toilet leak is to remove the tank cover and place food coloring in the tank. This should be done when the toilet will not be used for several hours. If the color seeps into the bowl, the flush ball needs to be replaced.
The average life of a flush ball is seven years. As it becomes older the possibility of a leak increases greatly. If the toilet tank continues to make noise after the flush and fill cycle is completed; the flush ball not fitting properly into its valve seat usually causes the problem. The problem may be a bent or corroded guide wire. A replacement for the flush ball is available that uses a flapper assembly eliminating the need for the guide wires.
Two other common causes for loss of water are easily detected. If the water l evel in the flush tank is above the overflow tube, water will continually run out. This problem occurs because the float is set too high or the ball cock is leaking. The water level in the tank should always be at least one-half to one inch below the overflow tube to avoid leakage. If the ball cock is leaking, water may run directly into the overflow through the refill tube. Lowering the float or repairing the leak in the ball cock will prevent these losses.
Another reason for water running out of the tank continually is a defective float. If the float leaks, it will not rise high enough to shut the water off after the tank refills and water will overflow into the bowl.
Test the float by taking it off and shaking it. If you hear water inside, replace it.
After the faucets and toilets have been checked for leaks, there is one more thing that can be done to be positive there are no leaks. The water meter should be read both before and after a period of several hours when no water is being used in the house.
An ideal time would be overnight particularly if the family is warned in advance not to run water during the night. If the meter reads exactly the same in the morning as it did the night before, there is no leak.