by Charlene Burgi
There is nothing more annoying than hearing the drip from a leaking faucet—with the exception of still hearing the drip after you’ve replaced the washers. At least this is my experience with the kitchen sink faucet at my home. The frustration has led me to believe there is some kind of conspiracy going on … call it karma or whatever. Wiggling the handle, twisting it to the left and sending up a prayer can stop the drip until someone turns the faucet back on and the dripping starts again. This is Fix-a-Leak Week and I am determined to stop the drop of the drip once and for all. My next alternative is to replace the faucet and save my sanity!
Do you have an annoying leak around the house? Sometimes it isn’t as obvious as a dripping faucet—it could be a silent leak in the toilet. You can expose this leak by putting a few drops of food dye into the tank and, without flushing the toilet, seeing if the food color finds its way into the bowl. This type of leak can also present itself if your toilet mysteriously flushes by itself. There is no need to hire a ghostbuster, but a plumber or handyperson can fix the problem by replacing the worn flapper. To save your sanity, be certain that the flapper model matches the model of your toilet.
Leaks in an irrigation system can be more difficult to locate. Hopefully your irrigation system is still turned off; however, this is the time to prepare the system for irrigation season. Begin checking your system by turning on each valve and looking for breaks in the line, checking for drip emitters that may be missing or clogged with insects or dirt, and watching for nozzles that are watering everything but the roots of the plants. Ofttimes where nozzles are missing geysers can be seen from afar. The best tool in the garden for working through the irrigation system is your sense of hearing. Water escaping from breaks will make a hissing noise. Follow the sound until the source of the leak reveals itself. Sometimes you will see your lawn bulge up with a lateral line break. The water has nowhere to escape and creates a balloon of water that can look like something out of a horror show.
Another great tool to use as a leak detective is the water meter. Turn all the water off in the house and yard. Open the meter box and check inside first for creepy-crawly insects that like to take up residence in such locations. Once clear of danger, lift up the lid of the meter. In most cases, there is a leak indicator located in the center of the dial. Some indicators look like red or white triangles. If you have a leak, the triangle will be turning at a rate equal to the leak (tiny leak = little movement). You may also see movement if you have an automatic pool fill or ice maker that happens to be working at the time of your investigation. Once the investigation is complete, fix any drips and breaks, then bask in the knowledge that your efforts helped reduce the one trillion gallons of water lost to leaks every year in the U.S.A.
Click here for more information on tracking down leaks: “How to be a Leak Detective!”