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Leak Detection Tips

Updated: Jan 19

Protect yourself from unexpectedly high bills due to water leaks. SGWASA wants to help customers understand how, and what to look for, to prevent unexpectedly high bills due to water leaks. Are you ready to chase down leaks? Household water leaks can waste nearly 1 trillion gallons of water annually nationwide, but remember that you can find and fix leaks inside and outside your home to save valuable water and money all year long.

Checking for leaks:

The average household's leaks can account for nearly 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year, and ten percent of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day. Common types of leaks found in the home are worn toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and other leaking valves. These types of leaks are often easy to fix, requiring only a few tools and hardware that can pay for themselves in water savings. Fixing easily corrected household water leaks can save homeowners about 10 percent on their water bills.

To check for leaks in your home, you first need to determine whether you're wasting water and then identify the source of the leak. Here are some tips for finding leaks:

  1. Take a look at your water usage during a colder month, such as December thru March. If a family of four exceeds 12,000 gallons per month, there are serious leaks.

  2. Identify toilet leaks by placing a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If any color shows up in the bowl after 10 minutes, you have a leak. (Be sure to flush immediately after the experiment to avoid staining the tank.)

  3. Examine faucet gaskets and pipe fittings for any water on the outside of the pipe to check for surface leaks.

  4. The EPA has numerous resources, videos, guides, and a leak checklist at:

Toilet Leaks

Old or worn-out toilet flappers (e.g., valve seal) can cause leaks. Flappers are inexpensive rubber parts that can build up minerals or decay over time. Replacing them can be a quick and easy fix for your water woes. To fix this leak, consult your local hardware store, home improvement retailer, or licensed plumber.  

Tip: Bring the old flapper to the hardware store for comparison to make sure you buy a new flapper that fits your toilet model. You can also check the owner's manual, if you have it, or the manufacturer's website for the appropriate replacement part number for the flapper.

Faucet Leaks

Old and worn faucet washers and gaskets frequently cause leaks in faucets. A leaky faucet that drips at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year. That's the amount of water needed to take more than 180 showers!

Shower Head Leaks

A shower head leaking at 10 drips per minute wastes more than 500 gallons per year. That's the amount of water it takes to wash 60 loads of dishes in your dishwasher. Some leaky shower heads can be fixed by making sure there is a tight connection between the shower head and the pipe stem and by using pipe tape to secure it. 

Outdoor Leaks

If you have an in-ground irrigation system, check it each spring before use to make sure it wasn’t damaged by frost or freezing. An irrigation system that has a leak 1/32nd of an inch in diameter (about the thickness of a dime) can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month. 

Tip:  Don't forget garden hoses!  Check your garden hose for leaks at its connection to the spigot. If it leaks while you run your hose, replace the nylon or rubber hose washer and ensure a tight connection to the spigot using pipe tape and a wrench.   Never leave outdoor water faucets on when not in use.  Garden hoses can easily burst causing significant water loss.

Who’s Responsible for the Water Service Line and Leaks?   

The water service line brings water to your home. The water service line that runs from the water meter, normally found at the property line, to the home or place of business is the property owner’s responsibility to maintain.  SGWASA is responsible for maintaining and fixing the pipes that go from the property line (meter box) to SGWASA’s water main.  

If a leak is discovered and fixed and that leak resulted in a high water bill, please see our website and Leak Adjustment Form for information on a possible leak adjustment.  Adjustments are not available for some types of leaks. 

For more information, visit


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