"Understanding Your Home" by Building Inspector Mark Visser
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WaterSense, a partnership program by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, seeks to protect the future of our nation's water supply by offering people a simple way to use less water with water-efficient products, new homes, and services, both in the US and Canada.


Fix Those Annoying Leaks - In and Outside the House
think (double) green: save money and energy

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More than 1 trillion gallons of water are lost annually nationwide due to easy-to-fix leaks both inside and outside American homes. Fixing household leaks not only saves water, but it can reduce water bills by an average of 10 percent. WaterSense partners are joining the effort by reminding Americans to check, twist, and replace fixtures in their bathrooms, kitchens, and even outdoors to ensure they aren't wasting this precious resource.


To determine if you're wasting water, start by examining your winter water bills. If a family of four is using more than 12,000 gallons per month, you may have a leak. You can also check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter changes at all, you probably have a leak.
In the kitchen, check the pipe fittings underneath your sink for any water on the outside of the pipe. Track down silent toilet leaks by placing a drop of food coloring in the tank at the back of your toilet. If any color shows up in the bowl after 10 minutes, you have a leak, which might be easily fixed by replacing the rubber flapper in the tank. Don't forget to flush after conducting this test! Another easy-to-check bathroom leak is the showerhead; turn on the water and check for drips where the showerhead meets the pipe stem.
Outside, turn on your hose and check for dripping water where it connects to the spigot. While you're at it, make a mental note to check your in-ground sprinkler system this spring to make sure it's not damaged from any winter frost or freezing.


Once you've identified the source of a leak, you can stop the drops yourself by tightening connections or applying pipe tape to ensure they are tightly sealed. If your showerhead drips when it is not in use, you might have a more complicated valve leak, which a licensed plumber can help you fix.
For additional savings, twist a WaterSense labeled aerator onto each bathroom faucet to save water without noticing a difference in flow. Faucet aerators cost a few dollars or less and can save a household more than 500 gallons each year, equivalent to the amount water used to shower 180 times.


For those drips that can't be nipped with a twist, it may be time to replace the fixture. If you're shopping for a new toilet, bathroom faucet, or showerhead, look for WaterSense labeled models, which use at least 20 percent less water and are independently certified to meet EPA's strict performance criteria. If all inefficient faucets and aerators in the United States were replaced with WaterSense labeled models, we could save 64 billion gallons of water annually.

This article is reprinted with permission from WaterSense, a partnership program with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA

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