How to Perform a Household Water Audit
by Denise Bassett, Castle Pines North Metro District
On average more than eight percent of residential water use is lost through leaking fixtures or pipes!
Knowing how much water you use is the first step toward getting a handle on water consumption. As you evaluate your water use, try to look for ways to reduce your daily consumption.
Your water bill
To calculate daily consumption, divide the total amount of water used by the number of days in the billing period. It is important to look at your water use over at least an annual period, since water use can vary by season. Most people use more water in the warmer months for gardening, washing cars, and other outdoor uses.
Your water meter
Your water meter measures the total amount of water used by your home. Most water meters are located in the basement.
Check your meter
Turn off all water fixtures both inside and outside the home, and check the reading on your water meter. If the sweep hand is moving, there is water moving through the meter.
A leaky pipe indoors is usually pretty obvious. Visually inspect all piping in your home, and look for tell-tale water marks on walls or ceilings. If a pipe is leaking, replace or repair it. Most leaks will be in the irrigation system.
A leaking faucet is also easily identified, but do you know how much water can be wasted from what seems like an insignificant drip? Count the number of times that water drips from the faucet per minute. You can use the following chart to estimate the amount of water wasted per month.
30 drops per minute =
54 gallons per month
60 drops per minute =
113 gallons per month
120 drops per minute =
237 gallons per month
1/2” stream of water =
1,014 gallons per month
1-1/2” stream of water =
2,202 gallons per month
Toilet leaks are common and potentially the largest source of water loss within your home. A leaking toilet can waste anywhere from several gallons to more than one hundred gallons per day. In some cases, it’s easy to identify a leaking toilet. If you have to jiggle the handle to make a toilet stop running, if you regularly hear sounds coming from a toilet that is not being used, or if a toilet periodically turns the water on (i.e. “runs”) for 15 seconds or so without you touching the handle, you can be fairly certain that you have a leak. But sometimes, even if your toilet doesn’t have any of these symptoms, it’s still possible that it is leaking. These “silent leaks” can go undetected for long periods of time, potentially wasting thousands of gallons of water.
To check your toilet for leaks, a simple test involves adding dye to the tank. Complimentary leak detection kits, with easy-to-use instructions, are available at the CPNMD office.
There are two possible culprits when a toilet leaks, the flush valve or the refill valve. To determine which is responsible for your leak, draw a pencil line on the inside of the tank at the waterline. Turn the water supply off, either under the tank or at the main shutoff and wait 20 to 30 minutes. If the water level remains at the pencil mark, that means the leak is occurring at the refill valve, the unit in the left side of the tank. If the water level falls below the pencil mark, the flush valve, the unit located in the center of the tank, is to blame. Many homeowners are capable of making their own toilet repairs; but, if in doubt, call on the expertise of a professional plumber.
With a little effort, you can save many gallons of water and thereby reduce your water bill each month.