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Leaks & Water Conservation Tips

Public Works and Utilities

Public Works and Utilities

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Leaking Toliet

Toilet Inspection Guide
Faulty toilets cause over 95% of all water waste and leaks in the home. Worn or damaged parts in the flush tank are the usual culprits.

To inspect your toilet, follow these instructions. Carefully remove the tank lid and make sure all the mechanisms are working properly. The diagram below will help illustrate the important parts of your toilet.

toilet_diagram1

A. Overflow Pipe 
B. Flapper 
C. Float Arm 
D. Float 
E. Fill Valve 
F. Fill Tube 
G. Water Line

Also, make sure the fill tube "F" is fastened so that it empties into the overflow pipe "A".

There are three common reasons for a toilet leak. They are easy to detect.

Float Arm Not Working Properly
Visually check to see if the overflow pipe "A" and the flapper "B" are working properly. Do this by flushing the toilet, watching the flow tank mechanism, and listening. You should be able to hear the water flow shut off. If the water does not shut off, is the water level above the overflow pipe "A"? If it is, gently bend the float arm "C" down and adjust the water level. You want the fill valve "E" to shut off the water when the water level is about 1/2 inch below the top of the overflow pipe "A". This "water line" "G" is marked in some toilet tanks. If adjusting the float arm does not fix the problem, you may want to have a plumber replace the assembly.

Defective Flapper
Check for a worn or improperly seated flapper "B" by dropping two dye strips, or 5-7 drops of red food coloring, into the toilet tank. Do not flush. If there is a leak, the dye-colored water will seep into the bowl in about 5-10 minutes. If the water in the bowl changes color, the flapper needs to be replaced or realigned, and you should make the necessary repairs. Free die strips are available from Town Hall at 18 Court Street.

Pinhole Leak in Pipe or Float 
A pinhole leak in the overflow pipe "A" below the waterline could produce an invisible leak. Check for this by shining a flashlight down into the overflow pipe. If you see running water, you have a leak and need to have this problem corrected. A pinhole in the float "D", or a worn washer on the inlet line "E" could also cause water to leak into the overflow pipe. Again, you may want to call a plumber to have this repaired.

Finally, if you need to replace your entire toilet, you will need to install a 1.6 gallon per flush toilet to comply with the plumbing code.

How to replace your toilet flapper:
First: Find out whether your leak is in the flapper or fill valve. To do this turn off your water supply valve located under the commode, then put one teaspoon of food coloring or a dye tab/strip into your toilet tank (not the bowl). Do not flush the toilet. Wait about 15 minutes, then check to see if you have color in the toilet bowl. If food coloring appears in the bowl, you have a flapper leak. If the food coloring did not appear in the bowl, you have a fill valve leak. Sometimes both valves will leak.

Second: Turn off the toilet's water supply valve (located below the toilet) and flush to empty the tank. Sponge out excess water, and then remove the refill tube from the overflow tube. Remove the chain from the flush lever. Remove the old flapper by sliding it up and off the overflow tube. For new plastic flush valves, you may bend flapper ears out and off of the pins on the flush valve. Install the new flapper by sliding it down over the overflow tube until the ring touches the bottom of the tank. Then adjust the flapper bulb so that it centers on the valve opening.

For plastic valves, cut the ring off of the flapper along lines marked "cut" and slip ears of flapper over pins on the flush valve. Reattach flush chain to flush lever, adjusting length as necessary. Turn the water supply valve back on. Fill the tank and check that the flapper works properly.

For a more complete toilet repair guide, see your local plumbing store or home improvement center.

Undeground Leaks

Underground leaks may or may not be easily detected. If obvious signs of water bubbling up in your yard are not evident, try the following.

To check for an underground leak, find the main water shut-off valve in your home. This should be located in the basement or crawl space where your water service enters the building.

Turn the valve off and check your water meter to see if it is moving. The small red pyramid on the face of the water meter will move counter-clockwise when water is passing through your meter. If you are not using water, the red pyramid should not move one bit. You will have to watch it closely. If it moves at all, you have an underground leak. One complete revolution of the red pyramid per minute equals 3,000 gallons of water per month, or approximately $35.

If you are not familiar with the mechanics and hazards of removing the water meter lid, we would prefer that you contact the Town for assistance.

If you do check your meter, please be careful to replace the meter box lid tightly onto your water meter box. For assistance, contact the Town office at (540) 347-1101 to schedule an inspection with a technician.

Water Conservation Tips

Water Drip Calculator

What Can You Do To Save Water?
With all that water in the oceans and around the world, why do we need to conserve water? The truth is most of the water on the earth is saltwater. Saltwater cannot be used for drinking because it has too many minerals in it plus it doesn't taste good. Why can't we take the salt out of the water? Well, we can but it is a very expensive process called desalination.

We can only use fresh water, which is found in lakes, rivers and underground. This freshwater represents only 1% of all the water on the earth.

It is also important to conserve water because we rely on rain, sleet and snow to bring us water and since the weather is unpredictable, it sometimes results in a drought when there isn't enough water available.

Conservation Facts

  • Fact! A slow drip on a faucet can waste 3,280 gallons of water a year. That is equal to 165 bathtubs of water.
  • Fact! You use 5 gallons of water per minute when you shower. If you take a 10-minute shower, you use 50 gallons of water. A full bathtub uses only 36 gallons of water.
  • Fact! When you let the water run while you brush your teeth, 3 gallons of water go down the drain each minute.
  • Fact! Washing small loads in the dishwasher uses the same amount of water as washing full loads.
  • Fact! A running hose can use 8 gallons of water per minute. Make sure you have a shut off nozzle on the end of your hose.
  • Fact! Do not use the toilet as a trash can. Every time you flush, you use 3 to 6 gallons of water.

Conservation Kits
Water conservation kits are now available from the Town office at 18 Court Street for $9.08. If your home does not already have low-flow conservation fixtures, these kits will pay for themselves within your first month's billing.

Each kit includes;

  • 1 Low flow kitchen faucet 3 g.p.m. aerator with on/off control.
  • 1 Water saving power showerhead with on/off soap-up control.
  • 1 Bathroom sink water saving aerator.
  • 1 Toilet tank water dam. Saves up to 50% = 2 to 3 gallons in older commodes.
  • 1 Pack of leak detector dye tablets. (To check for toilet leaks.)
  • 1 Booklet on water saving tips.