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Leaks Lead to High Water Bills

Money can leak from your house, one drip at at time. This week's blog suggests where to look and how to address the problem. Useful for tenants and owners alike.

Sometimes a water bill can be high due to usage: Doing a lot of laundry, watering the grass, filling a pool. But most times it’s a leak that you can find and fix yourself. Slow drips can waste gallons of water a day where a running toilet can waste hundreds of gallons a month!

There are typically seven sources of leaks in the common household: Disintegrated rubber of the flapper at bottom of toilet tank, a stuck flapper or valve, the kitchen faucet, the bathroom faucet, the shower faucet, the outside hose bib, and the dreaded of all, the underground leak.

To determine the source of the leak simple tests can be performed:
Flapper at bottom of toilet tank:  
Remove the cover from the toilet tank and place a few drops of food coloring in the tank. Wait about 15 minutes. If the water in the bowl changes color you have a leak. To check without food coloring, flush the toilet and wait 5 minutes. Place your fingers at the back of the bowl and if you feel water running past them then there is a leak.
Stuck flapper or valve:  Flush the toilet and wait for the bowl to fill. If working properly, you should hear the valve shut off and the “rushing” sound will stop. If the rushing continues you have a leak. If unsure, remove the cover from the tank and look at the pipe coming up from the bottom of the tank. If water is washing into this overflow pipe then you have a leak.
Kitchen faucet:  Turn off the hot and cold water with the knobs. Look for an occasional drip or dripping. If the knobs are turned all the way off and the dripping persists then you have a leak.
Shower faucet: See Kitchen faucet above.
Outside hose bib: See Kitchen faucet above.
Underground leak:  If you have tried everything above and found no other leaks call your property manager. You must be home or allow a plumber to enter the house to perform the test. During the test no water can be used inside the house. The water meter, usually located near the sidewalk, is watched for water usage. If it shows usage then there is an underground leak.

Now that you have determined the source of the leak, the next step is the fix or a contact to the property manager. Attempt all repairs that are within your skills and save a maintenance charge. Otherwise contact your property manager. The following is a guide to making that decision:

Flapper at bottom of toilet tank:  Save the cost of a maintenance visit and simply replace the flapper. You can get a new flapper for a few dollars at a hardware store. It’s best to take the old flapper with you but be sure to first turn off the water at the wall beneath the tank. Read the directions on the package.
Stuck flapper or valve: If the existing flapper looks good it may just be an adjustment needed to the length of chain that connects the flapper to the handle. Lift the handle and watch the flapper rise. The chain may be too long and is getting wedged under the flapper. Too short, and the flapper can’t close all the way.
Kitchen faucet:  There are so many kinds of faucets it’s best not to try this repair. Call your property manager.
Shower faucet: See Kitchen faucet above.
Outside hose bib: Don’t even try this one! Call your property manager. A qualified plumber is typically needed to re-pack the valve or replace the valve entirely.
Underground leak: If your property manager determines that there is a leak then a licensed plumber must dig up the front yard and install a new pipe between the house and water meter near the street. A permit is required for this work.

For more detailed instructions, go to the 77th Meridian “Tenants” web page and download the Checking for Water Leaks.

77th Meridian, LLC offers professional property management for residential property in Anne Arundel and surrounding counties. Visit us at www.77thMeridian.com. **Let us manage yours **


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