Your Money MattersConsumer Reports


Consumer Reports: Fix leaks and save money

Posted at 9:29 AM, Jun 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-12 09:32:47-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - Seemingly minor leaks in and around your home can really add up. Before you start investigating, Consumer Reports says, first, check your water meter.

“It will have a numerical reading on the top. Check that and then come back in about two hours," says Consumer Reports Home Editor, Paul Hope. "During that time make sure nobody in the house actually uses any water and when you go and see it again and the number has gone up it means you’ve got a leak somewhere in the house.”

Most leaks are often easy and inexpensive to fix. The tricky part can be finding them.

"We’re going to start in the bathroom because it accounts for more than half of all the water used in your home," says Hope. "The first fixture to check out is the toilet."

To check for leaks, you might not see add a drop of food coloring to the tank. Wait fifteen minutes. If food coloring ends up in the toilet bowl you have a leak and you’ll need to replace the flapper or valve seal. Consider replacing toilets older than 25 years. The newer models CR 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. You can usually just replace the washer or gasket.

“ You don’t have to get rid of the entire thing," says Hope. "You also want to make sure to look under the vanity for any leaks you may not see.”

Check your kitchen faucet, too. And finally be on the lookout for leaks behind your walls. Mold or moisture on walls, ceilings and floors may indicate a leaking pipe. In that case, it’s best to call a plumber.

And don’t forget 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 use a wrench or pipe tape. And if you have in-ground irrigation, check to make sure it didn’t burst.