leaky faucets

Be a Leak Detective for Fix a Leak Week

by Kimberly Scharl

2016 Fix a leak weekDid you know that easy-to-fix water leaks account for more than 1 trillion gallons of water wasted each year in US homes?  And every year, the average household leaks more than enough water to fill a school bus. These leaks not only waste a precious resource, but they could also be costing you an extra 10% on your water bill each month.

Good news! Fixing these leaks can be easy and inexpensive.  EPA’s WaterSense program encourages everyone to be a leak detective and “chase down” plumbing leaks during the 8th annual Fix a Leak Week. Start by gathering clues that will help you detect leaks in your home:

  • Check your utility bill – Look at your bill from January or February.  If a family of four exceeds water use of 12,000 gallons during a winter month, it’s likely there is a leak.  You can also examine your water bill for unexplained spikes from month to month.
  • Read your water meter – Find your water meter and remove the lid.  Take a reading during a period no water is being used, then take another reading in 2 hours.  If the second reading is not the same as the first, you probably have a leak.
  • Take a toilet test – Put a few drops of food coloring into the toilet tank and let it sit for 10 minutes.  If color shows up in the bowl, you have a leak that can probably be repaired with a new toilet flapper.  Make sure to flush after the test to avoid staining.

A good leak detective knows that leaks can be hiding in other places, too. Here are a few places you might want to investigate:

  • In the bathtub – Turn on the tub and divert the water to the showerhead.  If there is still a lot of water coming from the tub, your tub spout diverter may need to be replaced.
  • Under the sink – Check for pooling water under pipes and rust around joints.
  • Around the water heater – Check beneath the tank for pooling water, rust, or other signs of leakage. 
  • At the hose outside – If there are stray sprays, check the hose connection to the spigot, or try replacing the hose washer.

When replacing fixtures, remember to look for the WaterSense label.  WaterSense labeled products are independently certified to use at least 20 percent less water and perform as well or better than standard models.

Celebrate Fix a Leak Week by chasing down leaks in your own home. Leak detectives can tweet out the news of leak repairs using #Ifixleaks.

 

About the Author: Kimberly Scharl joined EPA in 2010, after moving to the mid-Atlantic region from Mississippi. She is a financial analyst and project officer in the Office of Infrastructure and Assistance, and is the regional liaison for the WaterSense Program. Kim enjoys bowling and spending time with her family.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed herein are those of the author alone. EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog, nor does EPA endorse the opinions or positions expressed. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content. If you do make changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.

Staying Sustainable at School

By Maddie Dwyer

As fall approaches, there’s one thing on every college kid’s mind: living on campus. Whether you’re excited or not, dorm life is coming, and it’s time to start getting ready. For me, this means using the things I learned at EPA this summer. Below are some tips for green living, which can help you whether you’re living in a dorm or an apartment, or at home.

  1. Saving Energy: It’s easy to save energy by making a few simple changes to your routine. Remember to always turn off the lights when you leave your room. If you’re lucky enough to have air conditioning, and the luxury of controlling it, make sure it’s not left on if no one’s around.
  2. Conserving Water: There are lots of ways to use water efficiently. Take shorter showers and turn off the water when you are using soap, shaving, or brushing your teeth. Also, fixing leaky faucets is an important way to reduce wasted water.
  3. Reducing Waste: College is a great time to get into sustainable habits. Make a commitment to recycle everything you can, even if it means carrying recyclables until you find a recycling bin. Most campuses offer green dining options, like reusable take out boxes, glasses, and silverware. Take advantage of all the green options your school has to offer!
  4. Getting Involved: Every school is different, and will have different environmental issues to address. For example, as part of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, my school is working to construct bioswales to filter run-off before it reaches the bay. Check out EPA’s resources for students looking to be greener at school. Whether you are advocating for safer cleaning products or encouraging energy efficient appliances, your school will be better off with your involvement.
  5. Make a Green Agreement with Your Roommate: Helping one another is a great way to make both you and your roommate more sustainable. Ask if it’s okay to unplug each other’s unused electronics, do laundry together, and figure out a schedule to keep the lights and AC off. I’ve been lucky to have lovely roommates and other amazing friends who are committed to green living, and it has helped me to become more sustainable every day.
Maddie and her roommate Grace

Maddie and her roommate Grace

So when moving back to campus, be sure to keep these tips in mind and have a wonderful, sustainable school year!

About the author: Maddie Dwyer studies environmental science and policy at the University of Maryland. She works as an intern for EPA’s Office of Web Communications.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed herein are those of the author alone. EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog, nor does EPA endorse the opinions or positions expressed. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content. If you do make changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.