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Find Out How Much Water Your Leaky Faucet Could Waste

Maybe there’s no maddening drip-drip-drip that wakes you up in the middle of the night, but you know there’s a leaky faucet somewhere in your house. Perhaps the faucet drips in that second bathroom, the one your teenage son uses, the one you have to gird yourself to clean. Perhaps the faucet is leaking in the utility sink, as evidenced by that ever-growing rusty hard-water stain.

A slight leak is so easy to ignore. How much water could possibly be wasted from a slow, lazy leak? Is the pennies-higher water bill worth the expense of calling a plumber, or, worse, putting down the icy margarita you’ve mixed for your day off in order to spend hours in a musty basement figuring out how to tighten gewgaws and install new flibbertigibbets?

If you’re one of those folks who used to enjoy tinkering with a chemistry set, then you could calculate the exact volume of water wasted. Just set up a graduated cylinder to catch the drops for a set amount of time, say an hour. By multiplying the volume of water collected by how many hours in a year, you’ll get a pretty accurate figure.

For those who don’t have graduated cylinders at hand, or whose stomach clenches at the thought of doing the math, fear not. The brilliant geeks at the USGS Water Science School have done some measuring for you. Just count how many drops escape your faucet in a minute, then plug that number into this nifty calculator: http://water.usgs.gov/edu/activity-drip.html.

It’s eye-opening to see how quickly those lazy drops add up. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the effect of household water leaks accounts for an average household loss of 10,000 gallons of water a year. Fixing those leaks can save homeowners about 10% on their water bills. Fixing those leaks also preserves a precious resource, which is especially important in drought-prone areas.

The good news is that this may be the easiest and cheapest plumbing fix in the world. For DIY-ers, rubber O-rings and washers retail for a few dollars. For those less mechanically inclined, the potential long-term savings on your water bill alone make calling a plumber the wise, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly choice.