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The true cost of leaky faucets and running toilets

Happy Male Plumber Repairing Faucet In Kitchen Sink

Leaky faucets and running toilets can cost homeowners hundreds of dollars each year.

Because the leaks happen one drip at a time – literally – many people fail to recognize just how much money is running down the drain.

Unresolved leaks are equivalent to tossing a handful of coins into the trash each day. A dollar here and a dollar there seems miniscule, but after 12 months, you’ve squandered some serious cash.

Earth Day, held each year on April 22, is our annual reminder that little drips matter. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 10% of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more each day.

Leaky Faucets

Kitchen and bathroom faucets develop leaks because of regular wear and tear, faulty seals, strong water pressure and improper installation. Faucets may be durable on the outside, but the inside is where most leaks originate.

The U.S. Geological Society’s Drip Calculator figures out precisely how much water is wasted with leaky faucets. Plugging in the numbers generates some eye-popping totals:

  • One drip every six seconds (10 per minute): 347 gallons per year
  • One drip every second (60 per minute): 2,083 gallons per year
  • Two drips every second (120 per minute): 4,166 gallons per year

For potable water, Collier County’s Public Utilities Department charges rates based on usage blocks. Residential users pay higher rates per gallon if they use more water. This upcharge is meant to encourage water conservation principles.

Block 3, for example, is $6.52 per 1,000 gallons for monthly usage that falls between 11,000 and 20,000 gallons. A drippy faucet or two, combined with other water-wasting practices, can easily cause water bills to spike.

Running Toilets

Toilets are made of strong, durable porcelain. Inside the tank, though, are inexpensive rubber, plastic and metal parts. Faulty flappers and fill valves are leading causes of toilet leaks. If left unchecked, a toilet running continuously can add hundreds of dollars onto monthly water and sewer bills.

Estimates vary widely based on models of toilets, but a running toilet can easily waste 4.5 gallons of water per minute. That’s 270 gallons per hour or 197,100 gallons per month. Toilet leaks caused by faulty flappers waste far less water, yet homeowners can still see their water and sewer bills skyrocket if leaks aren’t immediately fixed.

For wastewater, Collier County’s Public Utilities Department bills in flat rates of $5.10 per 1,000 gallons. And just like leaky faucets, homeowners pay for water coming into their home as well as wastewater leaving it.

Water Conservation Tips

In the spirit of Earth Day, it’s incumbent upon all Southwest Florida residents, businesses and visitors to preserve our natural resources.

Collier County’s Public Utilities Department offers these water conservation tips:

  • Install low-flow showerheads to save as much as 86 gallons of water per day.
  • Install low-flow toilet to save as much as five gallons of water per day.
  • Install a sink aerator to save as much as eight gallons of water per day.
  • Turn off the faucet while brushing teeth to save up to 10 gallons of water per day

Other tips include only running dishwashers and washing machines when they are full, and not using running water to thaw frozen foods.

Lee County Utilities also offers a series of indoor, outdoor and general water conservation tips. It may seem like we have an unlimited supply of water, but having clean water automatically flow whenever we turn the knob is both costly and time consuming.

Early Detection of Leaky Faucets

Homeowners often ignore the warning signs of a leak, like wet spots under sinks and around handles, staining or even dripping sounds. Leaks never fix themselves. In fact, nearly all leaks will get worse over time.

Early leak detection is key. Plumbing leaks can occur anywhere within a structure. Many homeowners only see leaks when water drips from the faucet or they hear water filling the toilet tank. Leaks can occur under cabinets, between walls or even underground. Water leaks can destroy drywall, paint, flooring and cabinetry, as well as finances.

It’s important to keep a close eye on monthly water and sewer bills. Many homeowners are opting for Pro-Tec’s Premier Annual Maintenance Plan, which offers peace of mind with fair and honest pricing. The 12-month agreement is designed for single-family residences and is fully transferrable. It includes an annual plumbing inspection, 10% discount on service calls and priority service calls. Plan holders also pay no dispatch fees or overtime fees for emergency service on nights or weekends.

Through the year, and especially during dry season, every drip matters.