If you’re looking to conserve water, lifestyle changes like taking shorter showers, and running full loads of laundry and dishes can help. But you could also have leaks in and around your home that you don’t even know about, and that could cause major problems down the road. Thankfully, most leaks are easy and inexpensive to repair.
Before you start investigating for leaks, check your water meter.
"It will have a numerical reading on the top. Check that, then come back in about two hours. During that time make sure nobody in the house uses any water. When you look at the meter again, if the number has gone up it means you’ve got a leak somewhere in the house," said Paul Hope, Consumer Reports home editor.
The tricky part can be finding them.
"Start with the bathroom, because it accounts for more than half of all the water used in a home. The first fixture to check out is the toilet," advised Hope.
To check for leaks you may not see, add a drop of food colouring to the tank, then wait 15 minutes. If food coloring ends up in the toilet bowl, you have a leak. You’ll need to replace the flapper or valve seal.
But you may want to consider replacing toilets older than 25 years. The newer models on the market use as little as five litres per flush.
For a leaky showerhead, use pipe tape or Teflon tape to secure a tight connection between the showerhead and the pipe.
Check any faucets, too. If they’re leaking, you can usually just replace the washer or gasket.
"You don’t have to get rid of the entire thing. You also want to make sure to look under the vanity for any leaks you may not see," Hope said.
Don’t forget to check your kitchen faucet.
And finally, be on the lookout for leaks behind your walls. Mold or moisture on your walls, ceilings, or floors may indicate a leaking pipe. In that case, it’s best to call a plumber.
You should also check for leaks outside your home. If your garden hose leaks where it connects to the spigot, try replacing the washer to ensure a tighter connection. You can also secure the connection using a wrench or pipe tape. And if you have in-ground irrigation, check to make sure it isn’t leaking.