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Green Tip and Trade

Fix leaky toilets, they can waste an extra 200 gallons of fresh water every day

Christina Huh Nov 25, 2010

Toilets can be the greatest water waster in a home, and inefficient toilets can use up to 20 gallons a day. But if the toilet is leaking water, the situation can be much worse and result in sky-rocketing water bills

You can identify toilet leaks by placing a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If any color shows up in the bowl after 15 minutes, you have a leak. (Be sure to flush immediately after the experiment to avoid staining the tank.) Old or worn out toilet flapper (aka “valve seals) are often the culprit since they are made of rubber and can build up minerals or decay over time. The good news is that they are inexpensive and 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. 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 Web site for the appropriate replacement part number for the flapper. To determine if you have other leaks in your home, look at your water usage during a colder month, such as January or February. Assuming you have a family of four, any consumption in excess of 12,000 gallons per month indicates your home has serious leaks. You may also 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.

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