Your home could be leaking money down drain

Consumer Reports: Simple fixes could help you save on your next water bill

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Consumer Reports warns your home could be leaking money right down the drain, but the good news is there are some easy fixes that can help you save money on next month's water bill.

To save on the amount of water you use and pay for, you likely already know that making changes like taking shorter showers and running full loads in your washing machine and dishwasher can help. But Consumer Reports says you may have leaks in and around your home that you don’t even know about, and they could be costing you cash!

Consumer Reports says first look at 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. And most leaks are often easy and inexpensive to fix. 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.

To check for leaks you may not see, add a drop of food coloring 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 should consider replacing toilets older than 25 years. The newer models Consumer Reports has looked at use as little as 1.28 gallons 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. Don’t forget to check your kitchen faucet, too. 

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.

Consumer Reports says also remember to 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.

All Consumer Reports material Copyright 2019 Consumer Reports, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Consumer Reports is a not-for-profit organization which accepts no advertising. It has no commercial relationship with any advertiser or sponsor on this site. For more information visit consumer.org.