The City of Bremerton works hard to eliminate leaks in the water distribution system. Many leaks, however, occur inside the home, beyond our control. These leaks are the responsibility of you, the homeowner. Finding and repairing them saves water and money.
Leaks waste tremendous amounts of water. A toilet that "keeps running" or a dripping faucet can easily waste thousands of gallons of water a month. If your home is connected to a sewer system, you pay for this water as it enters and as it leaves your house. If you have a private septic system, leaks could possibly overload its capacity.
Audit your entire household and correct any leaks. Evaluate your water usage and make changes where you identify waste. Contact your water purveyor for ways to reduce water usage in your home and landscape.
Meet Your Meter
Your water meter is the best detective in the home. It can tell whether you have leaks. All you have to do is learn its language.
Your water meter is typically located near the street under a metal, plastic, or concrete lid. This meter is your indicator of water usage. Meters record water in cubic feet and record water usage just as your car's odometer records mileage. One cubic foot of water equals 7.5 gallons. Meters are never reset. To find how much water you have used in any given period, just subtract the number on your last bill from the current meter reading.
Locate Your Master Valve
The master water supply shut-off valve controls water flow into the home. It is important that everyone in the household knows where it is located. If there is an emergency, you will need to know in a hurry. You cannot afford to waste precious time searching while the basement floods or the carpets are drenched. Some likely locations are:
Checking For Leaks
- Where the water supply enters the home, such as the foundation or garage
- Near the clothes washer hookup
- Near the water heater
A simple procedure can detect leaks that may exist anywhere in your home.
- Locate your water meter
- Turn off all water - inside and outside. Leave your master valve open
- Read your meter and write down the figure. Your meter may have a small triangle for detecting leaks. Note if this is moving
- Wait 15 to 20 minutes and read your meter again
- If the figure has changed, there is a leak somewhere. Your next step is to find it. Is the leak inside your home or in the service line?
- Turn the water off at your master valve
- Repeat steps 3 and 4
- If the figure changes again, the leak is in the service line. If the figure does not change, the leak is past the master valve and probably inside your home
If the leak is in your service line, you can attempt to fix it yourself or contact a plumber. If the leak is inside your home, continue to check for leaks in your toilets, faucets and appliances.
To detect leaks in irrigation systems, you must first know where that system ties into your home's water system. Newer systems usually are connected between the meter box and the master valve. A leak would be detected in step 8. Older systems may be connected in the home or beyond the master valve. Leaks would be detected in step 5.
You do not need to be a detective to find leaky faucets and it is not necessary to be a magician to fix them. The most common cause of leaks is a worn washer.
Check your local hardware store. They have brochures explaining how to fix different types of faucets.
Toilets are notorious for silent leaks. A toilet that overflows just one gallon every five minutes will waste 288 gallons per day or 8,640 gallons per month.
- Put a few drops of food coloring in the toilet tank. Wait 15 minutes (without flushing). If colored water appears in the bowl, you have a leak. The flush valve ball probably needs to be replaced
- If the flush valve ball is not worn, check to see whether it fits into the flush valve snugly. If this valve is corroded, clean it. Then, if the ball still will not seat properly, straighten the guide wire and make sure it is not catching anything. (Newer toilets have a chain and "stopper ball" instead of the guide wire and flush valve ball.) If it still leaks, replace the flush valve ball
- If your toilet whistles, whines or will not shut off after adjusting the float ball, you may need a new ball cock assembly. Hardware and plumbing stores sell complete replacement or conservation kits with instructions