Household Leak Detection and Mitigation Introduction

Leaks from pipes, plumbing fixtures and fittings are a significant source of water waste for water utilities and the residential customer. Research has shown that the typical home loses 2,000 to 20,000 gallons (7.6 m3 to 76 m3) of water per year due to leaks. Some leaks are readily apparent, such as dripping faucets and leaking water heaters. Unfortunately, many leaks go undetected for years because the source of the leak is not visible. When leaks are hidden, the water escapes undetected, such as caused by deteriorating toilet flapper valves and cracked water supply lines. Individually or collectively, the leaks in a single home can easily waste thousands of gallons of water each year; costing money to BOTH the water customer and the utility.

The true cost of leaks has been somewhat misrepresented in the past. Most water conservation literature informs customers that the value of fixing the leak can be calculated by multiplying the water volume of the leak times the per-unit cost of the water, as charged by the water utility. In fact, many water meters do not even register the water usage from the leak, unless the leak exceeds one pint per minute, or 360 gallons (1.3 m3) per day. This allows more than 100,000 gallons (378.4 m3) per year to slowly pass through the meter without garnering revenue for the water utility. More information regarding the sizing and sensitivity of meters can be found in the Metering and Submetering section of the AWE Resource Library

There is no one easy method to detect leaks. A comprehensive approach must be used to detect leaks from all of the household’s appliances, fixtures, or fittings.