Have you ever watched a leaky faucet drip into the sink? Faucet leaks are not uncommon as faucets age and the seals start to deteriorate. Many of us probably think that the small amount of water dripping into the sink really doesn't amount to that much over time. But is this really true?
Below is an experiment parents and teachers can help their kids perform to get a better idea of just how much water is actually wasted through a leaky faucet.
Take a piece of masking tape equal to the height of your bucket and affix it vertically to the outside of the bucket. Then, add one cup of water to the bucket. Using your marker, indicate on the piece of tape the level of the water for one cup. Add a second cup of water and indicate on the tape the level for two cups of water. Continue repeating this process until you have added ten cups of water to the bucket and have ten marks on the piece of tape.
Empty the water from the bucket. Turn the faucet on very slowly until it starts to drip. You do not want a steady flow of water, just single drips every few seconds. Then, place your empty bucket under the dripping faucet to catch the water. Record your starting time on a piece of paper. Let the bucket remain under the faucet for several hours.
Try to guess how much water will end up in the bucket at the end of your experiment and write it down on the sheet of paper on which you recorded your start time. After several hours, go back to the sink and check your bucket. Write down the time you ended the experiment so that you can calculate how much water was lost each hour. See how close your estimate was to the actual amount of water wasted.
Did you know that the average leaky faucet can waste from 1000 - 2000 gallons per year? Leaking toilets are even worse, as they can waste up to 500 gallons of water in a single day!
Leaking faucets are easy to spot, but toilet leaks can be a little bit more difficult to identify. One way to check to see if your toilet is leaking is to carefully place a few drops of food coloring in the water storage tank. Do not use the toilet for several hours. Come back and check the color of the water in the bowl. Is it clear, or did some of the colored water leak into the bowl? If the water in your bowl contains some of the colored water, check the condition of the seals and the flapper valve in the storage tank of your toilet and replace them if needed.
Although seal leaks are the most common source of toilet leaks and can be detected through the food color test, there are other places that leaks can occur as well, such as cracks in the overflow tube in the water storage tank. Listen to see if your toilet storage tank tries to refill itself occasionally even though it hasn't been flushed. If so, you could possibly have a leak.
By taking the time to fix leaking faucets and toilets, you will not only be reducing your water consumption rates, but you will also be doing your part to protect one of our most precious natural resources, water.