Find and fix leaks to stop wasting water during drought

You’ve limited your outdoor watering, cut bath time, and stopped doing the dishes before washing.

As Angeles continues to adapt to yet another year of drought and California’s latest water restrictions, you may be wondering what else you can do to save water.

A big waste of water is leaks. Fixing a leak not only saves you water, it also saves you money on your water bill.

There are three ways to inspect your home for leaks, including checking your water bill, checking your water meter, and doing an inspection inside and outside your home. Here’s how.

Become a leak detective

You will want to start this investigation with your water bill. Check for irregularities in water usage.

For example, you can compare your water usage this spring to spring 2021. If there’s more water usage that doesn’t have a reason behind it, like someone coming home, there could be a leak, said Terrence McCarthy, policy manager. of Water Resources at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Energy.

Another way to detect a leak, and the easiest way, McCarthy said, is to check the water meter.

The meter is in a concrete box typically at the front of your property, near the curb or sidewalk. It is labeled “water meter” and its cover can be opened with a screwdriver.

There are two types of meters: analog and digital. The analog meter has a “sweep pointer” (similar to a clock) and a low-flow leak indicator in a star or triangle shape.

If you turn off all the devices that use water inside and outside the house, including the irrigation system, and the indicator turns, it means that the water is still flowing and there is a leak somewhere. A digital meter will have an icon that will appear when there is a leak or the water usage display number will keep increasing.

“That’s the clearest and best way to tell if you have a water leak,” he said.

internal leaks

If you’ve determined you have a leak, start your search in the bathroom (but don’t forget the kitchen).

McCarthy said many people can have a toilet leak but never know it’s happening.

“The sound in the bathroom is very weak, and if you don’t really notice when it happens, it’s like one of those white noise things that’s going on in the background and you kind of assume it’s okay,” he said.

According to the LADWP, a functioning toilet can waste about 150 gallons of water or more every day.

That’s more than double the average residential use of 72 gallons a day, said Ellen Cheng, DWP’s media relations manager.

To check if your toilet is the culprit, DWP offers free dye tablets that go in the toilet tank. Once the tablet is in the tank, wait 10-15 minutes and check the color of the toilet bowl – the color indicates a leak. For free tablets, call (800) 544-4498 and press 5 or email [email protected] You can also do this test with food coloring.

Sometimes you can hear a leaking faucet, shower or bathtub.

Leaking shower faucets

If your shower drips fine when you turn it off, that’s no big deal. But if you’re doing this for hours or all day, you have a leak.

(Patrick Strattner/Getty Images)

“Just get to your zen state and you’ll hear that white background noise of flowing water,” McCarthy said.

For example, he said, when we’re done showering, most of us expect some water to keep dripping from the shower when we turn off the water. But if the water keeps dripping for hours or all day, the shower is leaking.

outdoor leaks

Although Angelenos are limiting their use of irrigation systems, most people still run them early in the morning or late at night. Therefore, you may not see a broken or leaking sprinkler.

“Everyone assumes [the sprinkler] it shoots and it’s perfect,” McCarthy said. “But just driving around the neighborhood, I saw… a lot of people have leaky sprinklers that waste a ton of water.”

You can check by briefly turning on the irrigation system and inspecting each sprinkler.

You’ll also want to check your irrigation control valves, which are constantly under a lot of pressure and can leak. If the irrigation system is off and there is a puddle of water or the soil is wet near the valve, this could indicate a leak.

Underneath your landscape or grass are the pipes that carry water through your irrigation system. One way to recognize an underground leak is any area where pools form, areas greener than the rest of the landscape, or where grass grows faster.

Need help?

You can carry out these inspections yourself or get help from Los Angeles County Public Works.

The public works department offers a free audit of your home’s water – sending a consultant to perform a comprehensive indoor water review and check for leaks from toilets, sinks, showers, dishwashers, washing machines and irrigation systems.

The expert advisor will provide a detailed report, with information on usage by indoor device, a summary of irrigation equipment, leaks if any, a suggested irrigation schedule and recommendations on how to reduce overall water usage, the spokesperson said. of Los Angeles Public Works, Steven said Frasher.

The audit takes one to two hours to complete and clients are encouraged to follow along with the consultant.

“Don’t worry about hovering! The consultant recommends that clients walk with them and ask questions,” Frasher said.

Repair and preventive action

When you identify a leak and its source, ask your family member for help or call a plumber.

If you need to replace a shower or toilet with a more efficient one, check the LADWP website for incentives, discounts or free devices. For example, if you need to replace a faucet aerator or shower head, please email [email protected] and include your name, address, number and types of devices required. Devices will be shipped to you.

The LADWP provides an incentive for in-line leak detection or domestic water use monitoring systems. (This is when a plumber installs a device that can alert your smartphone if it detects a leak.)

The department is also working on a home leak detection system, which is expected to roll out in the coming months. It will be a device that you can strap to your meter and connect to your home WiFi. The device will send alerts when it detects a leak; it also identifies different types of internal and external usage.

“That way, you get a better sense of when your water is being used and whether you’re using it a lot here versus there,” McCarthy said.

About the Times Utility journalism team

This article is from The Times Utility Journalism Team. Our mission is to be essential to the lives of Southern Californians by publishing information that solves problems, answers questions and helps decision-making. We serve audiences in and around Los Angeles—including current Times subscribers and many communities that historically have not had their needs met by our coverage.

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