Dealing with Water Leaks

by Judy Spencer Dona, CRS, GRI, BROKER 11/24/2019

Photo by Andrey_Popov via Shutterstock

Is your house leaky? According to the EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency), household water leaks account for up to a trillion gallons of water wasted each year. According to their calculations, the average home leaks about ten thousand gallons annually or more than 90 gallons every single day. So how do you tell if your home is leaking?

First, pull out your water bills from the past year. Organize them by the months of colder weather when you’ll use less water for landscaping purposes and hotter weather when you’ll use more. In the winter months, December through February, the monthly average for a family of four should be under 12,000 gallons. If it’s more than that, you may have a leak.

Where does the leak come from?

The most common source of leaks is a worn toilet flapper or a dripping faucet. When you hear a hissing sound from the toilet tank, or it flushes randomly, you need to update the flapper. Dripping faucets start slowly, but unless you correct the problem, the leak only gets stronger. In fact, homeowners can save around ten percent on their water bills by merely fixing a few leaking fixtures.

How do you find them?

Turn off all the running water in your home, then read your water meter. Wait for two hours with no water use and then reread the meter. If the meter changes, it’s likely that you have a leak. Note that some water utilities have electronic meters with smartphone apps so you can track water leaks while you’re away from your home.

To determine if your toilet leaks, you’ll need some food coloring. Add one to two drops to your toilet’s tank. Wait for about 10 minutes to see if any of the colored water appears in the bowl. If you see it, that means your flapper does not seal properly and needs replacing. Once you’ve determined if it’s leaking, you should make sure to flush your toilet right away to completely expel the colored water from the tank to avoid staining your toilet bowl. A leaky faucet or showerhead is more straightforward. Often, you’ll see the drip coming from the fixture. Other times you’ll see a rust stain on the sink bowl or tub from the slowly dripping water. Other leaks can come from the connectors under sinks and behind toilets. If the valves are damp it could merely be condensation, so wipe them dry and leave them exposed to the air (leave cabinet doors open). Recheck them in an hour or two. Also, check for mold or mildew build-up since damp, leaky areas promote their growth.

Another area to find a hidden leak is in your landscaping. If your grass is greener in one area, or the ground sinks in when you step on it, you may have a broken sprinkler pipe. Landscaping and sprinkler professionals can trace the leak for you so that you can have it dug up and repaired.

How do you fix them?

If you’re handy, you can purchase a new flapper seal at your local hardware or DIY store. You’ll find instructions on YouTube, other websites or you can inquire about it while in the store. Leaky showerheads and sinks might need new gaskets, so start there. If your faucet’s fittings are inside walls, or it’s a complex system such as a touchless fixture, seek professional help in tracking down the leak and replacing seals and gaskets. Some leaks in valves and pipe joints only need plumber’s tape or pipe glue, but others might require replacing. To avoid flooding your home, let a professional handle the more complicated repairs.

For a referral to a plumbing or landscaping professional near you, ask your knowledgeable real estate agent.

About the Author
Author

Judy Spencer Dona, CRS, GRI, BROKER

You can learn a lot growing up on a farm in rural Illinois. Just ask Gillespie native Judy Spencer-Dona. When it came to the daily chores on her family's farm - raising the livestock and harvesting the crops - each member of the family did their part. And although she didn't realize it at the time, young Judy was learning invaluable life lessons that would be the foundation for her later pursuits. To this day, she'll tell you her strong work ethic and her commitment to getting the job done are direct results of her childhood days on her family's farm. Hometown Values Truth be told, Judy will always be a country girl at heart. Even though she moved away from her hometown for a period to take advantage of career opportunities, she carried with her the values she learned early on. While Judy was grateful for the chance to experience new places and meet new people, she always secretly longed to return to Illinois' rural countryside. She'll even tell you her love for her home grew stronger during her time away, which is whey she was even more grateful to be able to return to the area she cherished. It's been several years since Judy moved back, and she feels it more than ever - there's no place like home. She now has a different perspective on the area. More than ever she treasures the natural beauty, the easy-going atmosphere and, perhaps most importantly, the warm, friendly people. A Passion for Her Work With such a deep appreciation for all this special place offers, it's no wonder Judy is so passionate about her work. As the area's leading real estate professional, she finds few things more fulfilling than helping others in the community make the most of their opportunities here. Whatever your real estate goals, this dedicated professional is committed to getting the job done. Judy understands firsthand, there's no place like home. For buyers, she not only works hard to match you with the right home, but the perfect neighborhood to fit your unique needs. For sellers, Judy knows there are oftentimes many emotions involved in the real estate process. With genuine care and compassion, she covers the details and strives to make your transition smooth and worry-free. A Homegrown Professional Whether you're looking to buy or sell a home in Macoupin or Montgomery County, put your move in the hands of a homegrown professional who understands your needs. A professional who knows There's No Place Like Home. Make the most of your real estate opportunities and call Judy Spencer-Dona today to schedule a private consultation. • Full-Time Real Estate Broker • Top Producer in the combined counties of Macoupin and Montgomery since 1999 • Your Lake REALTOR with over $20,800,000 in lake sales alone • Works With New Construction and Custom Built Homes • Relocating?--Let me be your relocation resource • Your Mature Moves Specialist--Condominiums for 55 years young • Top Overall Producer for Century 21 Reid Baugher Realty since 1999 • Quality Service Award Agent (chosen by clients) • Centurion Award, Century 21 - '00-'07 & '13-'16 - Top 1% Nationally • Ruby Award -- Illinois Association of REALTORS President's Club - '01-'06, '14 • Diamond Award -- Illinois Association of REALTORS President's Club - '08-'12, ‘15