Fix a Leak Week

Small Repairs, Big Savings

By Lina Younes

Recently, I was shocked to see that my monthly water bill had almost doubled. What had caused the unexpected increase in water usage?  There had to be a logical explanation.

I reviewed our daily activities for the past month to find the reason for this alarming increase. Given that it’s still winter, we definitely had not been watering the garden. Nobody was taking more showers than usual.

So, I went on a fact-finding expedition around the house in search of the possible cause. Could it be the kitchen faucet? I thought I had instructed everyone to close it a certain way to prevent it from leaking.  All the toilets seemed to be working well, except the one in the basement.  I found the culprit!  My daughter confessed that sometimes it got “stuck” and kept on flushing. She mentioned it happened usually at night, but she had failed to tell me earlier. So, literally hundreds of gallons of water, and our money, were going down the drain.

My husband and I went to the local hardware store looking for a flapper to repair the toilet.  I saw that there were a variety of flappers and toilet repair kits that cost between anywhere between $4 and $20.  Luckily, he was able to repair the toilet himself. That small repair ended up saving us hundreds of dollars, and was worth every penny.

Did you know that in the U.S. over 1 trillion gallons of water are wasted in household leaks? That’s why EPA and its partners want to remind people to check the plumbing fixtures in their homes during Fix a Leak Week. Do you think you have a toilet leak? Place a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If the color shows up in the bowl within 15 minutes without flushing, you have a leak. Fixing it will go a long way to save you money and protect the environment.

If you are planning on making some major repairs to your plumbing fixtures, it might be time to invest in faucets, showerheads and toilets with the WaterSense label. These water efficient products have helped consumers save over 487 billion gallons of water and nearly $9 billion in water and energy bills since EPA’s WaterSense Program was created in 2006. You can help save water, too. Every drop counts.

About the author:  Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves the Multilingual Communications Liaison for EPA. She manages EPA’s social media efforts in Spanish. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Around the Water Cooler: Is Your Toilet Leaking?

By Sarah Blau

WHAT IS THAT NOISE?!? When I first moved into my apartment, I noticed a strange and persistent noise coming from the bathroom. On an exploratory mission, I fumbled around the various fixtures and plumbing only to discover that my toilet was leaking! Luckily, I caught the leak early and got it fixed.

Surprisingly, a leak like mine could waste up to 200 gallons of water a day! My water bill alone would have given me palpitations, let alone the knowledge that I was so carelessly wasting one of our very precious resources.

It's Fix a Leak Week!

Stories like mine are the reason this week is “Fix a Leak Week,” sponsored by WaterSense, an EPA Partnership Program. EPA and others are working to raise awareness about water leaks, to provide tips and information to water users, and ultimately, to reduce the waste of this life-sustaining resource. The WaterSense website provides some shocking statistics about the amount of water actually wasted each year as well as how you yourself can check for and fix household leaks.

Water lost to leaky plumbing is not isolated to inside homes and buildings. The aging water infrastructure of our country is awash with leakage problems as well. In fact, just this past Monday a water main break near Washington DC, spewed an estimated 60 million gallons, depleting local water storage tanks and initiating water conservation efforts for the neighboring communities!

EPA scientists are addressing this leakage problem this week and year-round. Researchers are working on new tools and methods to identify and monitor the weak points of aging water distribution systems. For example, researchers are looking at ways to assess water infrastructure for leaks without disrupting water supply for consumers (i.e. avoiding water shut-offs or pipe excavations). Other research is focused on preventing leaks from occurring, specifically, by examining the relationship between water chemistry and plumbing life expectancy.

As for me, I see Fix a Leak Week as a good reminder that our water resources are limited and we should work to conserve what we’ve got. Since my leak’s been fixed already, I’ll instead resolve to take shorter showers, turn off the tap while brushing my teeth, and work to spread the word by blogging (check mark that one!).

To learn more about this ongoing research, visit EPA’s Aging Water Infrastructure Research webpage, and read about one specific research project in the Science Matters newsletter: Problems with Pinhole Leaks in Your Copper Water Pipes.

About the Author: Sarah Blau is a student services contractor working on the Science Communications Team in EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action.

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Wake-Up Call

By Stephanie Thornton

It’s never a good feeling to wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of rushing water. First, my foggy brain thought a neighbor might be taking an oddly-timed shower. Then I considered whether it was possible for a toilet to suddenly be that loud. As I groggily made my way to the source, I realized it was actually the sound of a broken faucet supply line spraying water all over the bathroom…and into the hallway. After a frantic few seconds, I was able turn the shut off valve to stop the tidal wave.

This is an example of a sudden–and very obvious–leak, but the average household is losing 10,000 gallons per year in more subtle ways. In fact, easy-to-fix household leaks add up to more than 1 trillion gallons of water lost annually nationwide. These leaks can rob homeowners of 12 percent of their water bill.

That’s why we are encouraging homeowners to find and fix leaks during the fourth annual Fix a Leak Week, March 12-18, 2012. Sponsored by EPA’s WaterSense® program, Fix a Leak Week reminds homeowners of the steps they can take to save water.

1. Check
First, check your home for leaks. You can detect silent toilet leaks, a common water-wasting culprit, by adding food coloring to the toilet tank and waiting 10 minutes before flushing. If color appears in the bowl, your toilet has a leak. Visit for do-it-yourself toilet repair tips and videos.

2. Twist
Give leaking faucet and showerhead connections a firm twist with a wrench or apply pipe tape to ensure that pipe connections are sealed tight. If you can’t stop those drops yourself, contact a plumbing professional. For additional savings, twist WaterSense labeled aerators onto bathroom faucets to use 30 percent less water without noticing a difference in flow.

3. Replace
If you just can’t nip that drip, it may be time to replace the fixture. Look for WaterSense labeled models, which use at least 20 percent less water and are independently certified to perform as well as or better than standard models.

By checking more carefully under the sink, I might have spotted the worn hose and replaced it before my mini-flood. Want to do more? Join EPA and thousands of your neighbors by supporting the We’re for Water campaign, organized by WaterSense. Visit to take the I’m for Water pledge.

About the author: Stephanie Thornton has worked at EPA for nearly 10 years and manages marketing and partner relationships for WaterSense’s residential plumbing program.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Ten Thousand Gallons

By Veronica Blette

“Uh-oh, that can’t be good,” I thought as I entered my house to hear the sound of running water. I went upstairs to find that the flapper on my toilet had become stuck in the open position, which led to its earnest, yet futile, efforts to fill the bowl all day long. Yes, while I spent my day in the office trying to advance a nationwide ethic of water efficiency, water was running down my drain. My water bill for the month almost doubled as a result of that one day of wasted toilet filling.

So, what’s the connection with 10,000 gallons? That’s how much water we waste in our houses each year through leaks! Across the country, easy-to-fix household leaks add up to more than one trillion gallons of water lost annually, robbing homeowners of 12 percent of their water bill.

Less than one percent of the Earth’s water is available for human use, and managing water is a growing concern in the United States. Using water more efficiently and avoiding waste helps maintain supplies at safe levels now and for future generations.

That’s why we are encouraging homeowners to find and fix leaks during the third annual Fix a Leak Week, March 14 – 20, 2011. Be for water and start saving today with three simple steps:

1. Check

First, check your home for leaks. You can detect silent toilet leaks, a common water-wasting culprit, by adding food coloring to the toilet tank and waiting 10 minutes before flushing. If color appears in the bowl, your toilet has a leak.

2. Twist

Give leaking faucet and showerhead connections a firm twist to ensure that pipe connections are sealed tight. For additional savings, twist WaterSense labeled aerators onto bathroom faucets to use 30 percent less water without noticing a difference in flow.

3 .Replace

If you just can’t nip that drip, it may be time to replace the fixture. Look for WaterSense labeled models, which use at least 20 percent less water and are independently certified to perform as well as or better than standard models.

Don’t find yourself in my shoes. Take these simple steps and reduce the potential for leaks lurking in your life. Want to do more? Join my team and thousands of your neighbors by supporting the We’re for Water campaign. Visit and take the I’m for Water pledge and “like” WaterSense on Facebook.

About the author: Veronica Blette leads EPA’s WaterSense program. Veronica has been with the Agency for more than thirteen years and, going forward, will always make sure the toilet is not running before she goes to work.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Simple Steps to Big Savings

fix a leak week-drop of waterDrip. Drip. Drip. Did you know your home could be wasting up to 10,000 gallons each year from easy-to-fix water leaks? Many of these leaks are do-it-yourself fixes that could cost only a few dollars to address. Sponsored by EPA’s WaterSense® program, Fix a Leak Week reminds homeowners of the easy steps we can all take to help save water in our communities now and for future generations.

1. Find Leaks
A good method to check for leaks is to examine your winter water use. If it exceeds 12,000 gallons per month, you probably have leaks. Walk around your home with eyes and ears open to find leaks, and don’t forget to check pipes. You can also reveal a silent toilet leak by adding a few drops of food coloring to the tank and waiting 15 minutes without flushing. If color appears in the bowl, you have a leak. Be sure to flush afterwards so as not to stain the bowl or tank.

2. Fix Leaks
Many times fixing leaks can be done yourself and doesn’t have to cost a cent. Both faucets and showerhead connections can be tightened or sealed with a wrench or pipe tape. For leaky toilets, the rubber flapper inside the tank is often the culprit. Over time the flapper decays, but replacing it only costs a few dollars. If you don’t feel comfortable with these repairs, a licensed plumber can help. Irrigation systems and outdoor spigots can also be the source of water loss. A WaterSense irrigation partner who is certified in water-efficient irrigation technologies and techniques can ensure your outdoor irrigation system works properly.

3. Save Water
Fixing household leaks not only saves water but can reduce water utility bills by more than 10 percent. Dripping faucets can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year, a showerhead leaking 10 drips per minute about 500 gallons per year, and running toilets 200 gallons or more each day!

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For more information and tips about how to save water during Fix a Leak Week, visit www.epa.gov/watersense/fixaleak. WaterSense is a partnership program sponsored by EPA to help Americans save water. The WaterSense label can be found on toilets, faucets, urinals, and—coming soon—showerheads that use at least 20 percent less water and are independently tested and certified to perform as well as or better than standard plumbing fixtures.

About the author: Stephanie Thornton has worked at EPA for 7½ years and manages marketing and partner relationships for WaterSense’s residential plumbing program.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Question of the Week: When was the last time you fixed a leak?

An American home can waste, on average, more than 10,000 gallons of water every year due to running toilets, dripping faucets, and other household leaks. Nationwide, more than 1 trillion gallons of water leak from U.S. homes each year. That’s why WaterSense is promoting Fix a Leak Week from March 15 to 21, 2010, to remind Americans to check their plumbing fixtures and irrigation systems for leaks.

When was the last time you fixed a leak?

Each week we ask a question related to the environment. Please let us know your thoughts as comments. Feel free to respond to earlier comments or post new ideas. Previous questions.ea

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Pregunta de la Semana: ¿Cuándo fue la última vez que reparó un goteo?

Un hogar estadounidense puede desperdiciar, como promedio, más de 10,000 galones de agua cada año debido a filtraciones en los inodoros, grifos, y otras fugas caseras. A nivel nacional, más de 1 millón de millones de gallones de agua gotean de las casas estadounidenses cada año. Por dicha razón, WaterSense está promoviendo la Semana de Repare el Goteo del 15 al 21 de marzo del 2010 para recordarle a los estadounidenses a verificar el funcionamiento de la plomería y sistemas de irrigación para repararlos.

¿Cuándo fue la última vez que reparó un goteo?

Cada semana hacemos una pregunta relacionada al medio ambiente. Por favor comparta con nosotros sus pensamientos y comentarios. Siéntase en libertad de responder a comentarios anteriores o plantear nuevas ideas. Preguntas previas.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.