It’s been a challenging day. You’re lying in your bed, ready to embark on a wonderful night’s sleep. You close your eyes, ready to bask in the silence. But there’s band playing music in your vicinity. And that band only knows one song: Drip drip. Drip drip. And the more you try to ignore the sound of water dripping from your faucet into your drain with perfect timing, the louder it seems to grow.
You make a mental note: “mental note – fix faucet.” But you never quite seem to get around to it. There are so many other daily fires to extinguish in the course of being an adult. The minor faucet leak seems to trickle on down towards the bottom of your to-do list until it’s deep in your own mental drain.
Outside of the aggravation of having to listen to faucet leaks, what are you really costing yourself?
Improperly managing faucet leaks can lead to a whole host of issues. Hopefully, you’re not setting yourself up to pay a price!
It’s Just Dripping Water, What Can It Really Cost Me?
It’s easy to miscalculate the potential costs of a dripping faucet or not have the idea cross your mind to begin with. Until you get a water bill that suggests that maybe it’s time to start paying attention that is.
A steady drip from the faucets in your home can add to your monthly water costs, and, in severe cases, add hundreds to your bill throughout the year. If you’re in a larger home with more bathrooms, more showers, and more faucets, you could be doubling or even tripling your costs.
Look for unexplainable increases in your water bill, either gradually or suddenly, and you’ll quickly realize that the “drip drip” that you’ve been ignoring is now making itself prevalent in your monthly bill too.
Effects On The Environment
According to the EPA, leakage in the average home can waste up to 10,000 gallons of water every year. Furthermore, 10% of homes wasted up to 90 gallons of water a day!
Yes, we know…insanity. And you probably don’t want to be associated with the average home or that seedy 10%, considering that fresh water is becoming a more precious resource by the day.
How precious? On this glorious blue and green ball we call Earth, only 2.5% of water is fresh and therefore drinkable. Meaning that fresh water is literally disappearing down the drain.
Wasted water affects our energy consumption as well. According to the site Organic Life:
“If you get your water from a public system, you use as much energy running your faucet for 5 minutes as you would leaving a 60-watt light bulb turned on for 14 hours. If one out of every 100 American homes was retrofitted with water-efficient fixtures, we could save about 100 million kilowatts-hours (kWh) of electricity per year—and eliminate 80,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. That’s roughly the same as taking 15,000 cars off the road for a year.”
What are the causes of leaky faucets? Well, they primarily boil down to a handful of offenders: corrosion, worn out internal parts, mineral deposits, defective parts—washers, o-rings, and gaskets. We’ll cover several of these offenders below.
Worn out seals – Normal or excessive use of your faucets can wear down the seals. In addition, the normal buildup of minerals and sediments naturally found in tap water can also do a number.
Loose parts – Another common culprit is the packing nut, which loosens over time through usage. Look for leakage around the handle, which may signal that the packing nut is at fault and will either need to be tightened or replaced.
Worn out washer – Often, a worn out rubber washer (packing washer) is to blame when leaks occur around the spout. Every time you use your faucet, the valve seal and washer collide together, causing friction. Of course, over a matter of time (months in some cases), this kind of friction manifests in a leak. A little more difficult to identify if you’re not a professional is a washer that has been incorrectly installed or is the wrong model washer to begin with. Being able to eyeball the right washer is something a professional plumber can assist with.
Valve seat – The valve seat within the faucet is in a location where water tends to collect over time. The minerals in our water, such as copper, magnesium, and potassium, gradually deteriorate the valve seat. A professional plumber can assist in cleaning this part of your faucet.
O-ring – One of the most vulnerable parts of your faucet is the o-ring, particularly if you have a cartridge model faucet. Because the o-ring is further down in the faucet mechanism, o-ring leaks result in leaks at the handle instead of the spout.
General Faucet Maintenance
It’s a great idea to check all of the faucets in your home on a regular basis to ensure that there are no leaks. Some leaks may be a bit slow, so simply popping in for a quick glance may not suffice. If faucets haven’t been used, feel the spigot for dampness. Look for water or moisture in the sink or tub.
Don’t Forget The Other Culprits In Your Home
Often, shower leaks are produced from a loose connection between the pipestem and the showerhead. Some cases can be easily remedied with pipe tape, but often the situation is a bit more complicated and requires professional help.
Garden hoses are one of the worst faucet offenders as it pertains to leaks. And because that particular spigot is out of our view, or because there’s usually a connected hose that obscures our view of leaks or drips, it goes on unnoticed, wasting hundreds maybe thousands of gallons of water. Be sure to pop into your backyard and check your water hose for leakage or moisture.
Some basic plumbing know-how is enough to tackle the most basic faucet issues. There are a plethora of DIY videos on Youtube—many of them will help solve the problem. But, many plumbing issues can be tricky and require a trained eye or an experienced professional to properly identify the best solution. Whether complexity of the situation, the time required to resolve the issue, or other unexpected situations, a professional will be the best option. If you do find that to be your case, consider calling the team at ARCO Plumbing. Since 1978, we’ve provided the highest quality plumbing services in the Westmont, Illinois area and we cover a wide range of plumbing issues including sink repair, water heater service, flood control, and of course…faucets.
Are you a curious cat that wonders what your drips amount to over the months and years that they go unchecked? Check out this Drip Calculator from the USGS Water Science School. https://water.usgs.gov/edu/activity-drip.html