CHECKING FOR WATER LEAKS
To check for leaking pipes, inspect all the pipes in the home as well as look for water mark stains on walls and ceilings. If you have an underground irrigation system in your yard or any other water lines, check the ground in the area. If there is a leak, the ground may be continuously wet, and may even bubble up on the surface.
Leaking toilets can be hard to identify and can also be one of the largest sources of water loss. There are some signs of a leaking toilet that are easier to identify than others. If you have to jiggle the handle to make the toilet stop running, regularly hear sounds coming from a toilet that is not being used, or if the toilet turns on without anyone having touched the handle, then you have a leak.
Your toilet may also be leaking without displaying any obvious signs. Silent leaks of this type can go undetected for long periods of time. These silent leaks can waste large amounts of water as well as causing high water bills for the customer. A homeowner can check for silent leaks with a simple test. Remove the cover of the toilet tank as well as any bowl cleaners that may be in the tank until the water in the bowl and tank is clear. Add some sort of dye or coloring to the tank. This can be done using dye capsules or tablets, food coloring, or even powdered fruit drink mix. Be sure to add enough so that the water has a deep color to it. All that is left to do now is to wait for about 30 minutes. If after 30 minutes the water in the bowl of the toilet contains dye or color, then the toilet is leaking.
When a toilet is leaking, there are two possible causes, the flush valve or the refill valve. To check the flush valve in the toilet, draw a pencil line on the inside of the tank at the water level. Turn the supply valve off for the toilet and wait for 20 to 30 minutes. If the water level falls below the pencil mark, then the flush valve (flapper) is leaking. If the water level remains the same, then the leak is occurring at the refill valve.
Leaking faucets can also waste a significant amount of water. They are easy to identify and can be eliminated by replacing worn washers or by tightening or repacking the faucet. However your faucet does not have to be leaking to be wasting water. By installing a faucet aerator (small circular screen that screws into the faucet) you can save water in your home. Faucet aerators add air to the water which makes it seem like more water with less volume. If you already have aerators on your faucet, the flow should not exceed 2.5 gallons per minute. If it does, then you need a new aerator.
Taking less time in the shower can help save water, but so can changing your showerhead to a low-flow showerhead. Low-flow shower heads conserve water in much the same way as an aerator on a faucet, mixing air and water as well as using different spray patterns to give the feeling of a higher volume shower. Some low-flow showerheads also have a temporary shut off valve so that you can turn the water off while shampooing, washing, or shaving and still maintain the water temperature. Installing a low-flow shower head will not only result in water savings, but also in energy savings by cutting down on the amount of hot water used as well.
APPLIANCES THAT UTILIZE WATER
Washing machines can use a great deal of water. Older washing machines can use anywhere from 40 to 50 gallons of water per load. New high efficiency washing machines use considerably less. The best way to improve washing machine efficiency is to replace an old inefficient washing machine with a new, high efficiency front loading model.
Dishwashers also account for significant water use in a home. New, more efficient models can reduce water use by 50 percent. Using a dishwasher is usually a more efficient way to wash a full load of dishes than hand washing the same dishes in the sink.