Fix a Leak Week
Leaks Can Run, but They Can't Hide
Are you ready to chase down leaks? Household leaks can waste more than 1 trillion gallons of water annually nationwide, so each year we hunt down the drips during Fix a Leak Week. Mark your calendars for EPA's tenth annual Fix a Leak Week, March 19 through 25, 2018—but remember that you can find and fix leaks inside and outside your home to save valuable water and money all year long.
From family fun runs to leak detection contests to WaterSense demonstrations, Fix a Leak Week events happen from coast to coast and are all geared to teach you how to find and fix household leaks. See our Event Map Exitto view past events and to find new events near you!
Learn how to find and fix leaks during Fix a Leak Week. It's as easy as 1-2-3.
Checking for Leaks
The average household's leaks can account for more than 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year and ten percent of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day. Common types of leaks found in the home are worn toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and other leaking valves. These types of leaks are often easy to fix, requiring only a few tools and hardware that can pay for themselves in water savings. Fixing easily corrected household water leaks can save homeowners about 10 percent on their water bills.
To check for leaks in your home, you first need to determine whether you're wasting water and then identify the source of the leak. Here are some tips for finding leaks:
- Take a look at your water usage during a colder month, such as January or February. If a family of four exceeds 12,000 gallons per month, there are serious leaks.
- 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.
- Identify toilet leaks by placing a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If any color shows up in the bowl after 10 minutes, you have a leak. (Be sure to flush immediately after the experiment to avoid staining the tank.)
- Examine faucet gaskets and pipe fittings for any water on the outside of the pipe to check for surface leaks.
- WaterSense partners have guides and videos that you might find helpful in finding and fixing leaks.
- Toilet Leaks
Old or worn-out toilet flappers (e.g., valve seal) can cause leaks. Flappers are inexpensive rubber parts that can build up minerals or decay over time. Replacing them can be a quick and easy fix for your water woes. To fix this leak, consult your local hardware store, home improvement retailer, or licensed plumber. Here are some online resources from WaterSense partners:
- Spartanburg Water in South Carolina has a useful video tutorial on detecting leaky toilets.Exit
- Concord General Services has a dye test video on how to detect a toilet leak.Exit
- The Regional Water Providers Consortium has a step-by-step video on how to fix a leaky toilet.Exit
Tip: Bring the old flapper to the hardware store for comparison to make sure you buy a new flapper that fits your toilet model. You can also check the owner's manual, if you have it, or the manufacturer's website for the appropriate replacement part number for the flapper.
- Faucet Leaks
Old and worn faucet washers and gaskets frequently cause leaks in faucets. A leaky faucet that drips at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year. That's the amount of water needed to take more than 180 showers! Many tutorials are available online for how to fix a wide variety of faucets. Here are a couple of examples:
- The Do-It-Yourself Network has a handy reference on faucet repairs.Exit
- YouTube has numerous video tutorials on how to fix a dripping faucet.Exit
Tip: Don't forget to turn off the water line before you start!
- Showerhead Leaks
A showerhead leaking at 10 drips per minute wastes more than 500 gallons per year. That's the amount of water it takes to wash 60 loads of dishes in your dishwasher. Some leaky showerheads can be fixed by making sure there is a tight connection between the showerhead and the pipe stem and by using pipe tape to secure it. Pipe tape, also called Teflon tape, is available at most hardware stores, is easy to apply, and can help control leaks. For more complicated valve leaks in showers that drip when not in use, contact an experienced handyperson or licensed plumber.
Tip: It's also a good idea to check and, if needed, replace the washer or "o" ring inside the showerhead while making this repair.
- Outdoor Leaks
If you have an in-ground irrigation system, check it each spring before use to make sure it wasn’t damaged by frost or freezing. An irrigation system that has a leak 1/32nd of an inch in diameter (about the thickness of a dime) can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month. If you need help, hire an irrigation professional certified by a WaterSense labeled program to inspect it for you. These professionals have passed a certification program focused on water efficiency. They will not only help you detect and correct leaks in the system, but also maximize its efficiency.
- The Region of Peel in Ontario has a good overview for how to check for sprinkler system leaks. Exit
- The Salt River Project in Arizona has good tips on how to determine if you have a pool leak. Exit
Tip: Don't forget garden hoses! Check your garden hose for leaks at its connection to the spigot. If it leaks while you run your hose, replace the nylon or rubber hose washer and ensure a tight connection to the spigot using pipe tape and a wrench.
- Leaks Still Flowing?
If you've already determined you have leaks and you find these step-by-step solutions aren't enough to stop them, it might be time to replace your leaking fixtures. When you consult with a plumbing professional, and look for the WaterSense label when considering a new toilet, faucet, or showerhead, you could increase your home's water efficiency. See a complete list of WaterSense labeled products.
Past WaterSense Partner Fix a Leak Week Events
WaterSense partners across the U.S. and Canada joined EPA in the ninth annual Fix a Leek Week by donning their leak detective hats and grabbing their sleuthing gear (dye tabs, wrench and leak checklist) to find and fix common household leaks. Leaks were detected and fixed in bathrooms – toilets, showerheads and faucets, outside at spigots and in many other locations around the house. These leaks were found by vigilant leak detectives across the country. Check out our Event MapExitto see what events happened near you and click below to see photos and read about some of the events in our 2017 Campaign Summary, 2016 Campaign Summary, or summaries from earlier years.