Toilets: Listen for running water and conduct the dye test. *Dye Test– place a dye tablet or a few drops of food coloring into the tank of the toilet and let it sit for 10 minutes. If color shows up in the bowl, you have a leak. Make sure to flush afterward to avoid staining, and consider replacing your old flapper if it is torn or worn. Toilet dye tabs can be found in the NID main lobby.
Faucets: Listen for drips and turn on the tap to check for water going in the wrong direction.
Showerheads: Turn on and look for drips or stray sprays that can be stopped with tape.
In the Tub: Turn on the tub, then divert the water to the shower and see if there is still a lot of water coming from the tub spout; that could mean the tub spout diverter needs replacing.
Under the Sink: Check for pooling water under pipes and rust around joints and edges.
Old or worn-out toilet flappers (e.g., valve seal) can cause leaks. This simple rubber device holds water in the tank, then releases water into the bowl when the toilet is flushed. Because the rubber can wear out, the flapper should be checked periodically and replaced at least every five years to ensure a good seal and avoid leaks. An old or worn flapper can cause your toilet to flush on its own or silently leak thousands of gallons a year. Replacing a flapper is a quick and easy fix that will save water and money. If you need more help, you can also consult your local hardware store, home improvement, retailer, or a licensed plumber. Here are some online resources from WaterSense partners:
- WaterSense Bath Hack #3 shows how easy it is to Replace Your Leaky Toilet Flapper.
- Moulton Niguel Water District in California has a great series of "Potty Talk" videos that walk through everything you need to know about finding and fixing toilet leaks.
- Spartanburg Water in South Carolina has a useful video tutorial on detecting leaky toilets.
- Concord General Services has a dye test video on how to detect a toilet leak.
- The Regional Water Providers Consortium has a step-by-step video on how to fix a leaky toilet.
- Two major manufacturers of flappers also have websites that can help you diagnose problems and find the right flapper to fit your needs: Korky's Toilet Troubleshooting Guide and Fluidmaster's Toilet Repair Guide.
Tip: Bring the old flapper (or a picture of it) to the hardware store to make sure you buy a new flapper that fits your toilet model. Pay attention to the width of the flapper and whether it has a foam float on it that may also need to be replaced. You can also check the owner's manual, if you have it, or the manufacturer's website for information on replacement parts.
Old and worn faucet washers and gaskets frequently cause leaks in faucets. A leaky faucet that drips at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year. That's the amount of water needed to take more than 180 showers! Many tutorials are available online for how to fix a wide variety of faucets. Here are a few examples from our partners:
- AWWA's Drip Calculator helps you see how drips add up to gallons wasted.
- Lowe's How to Fix a Dripping or Leaky Double Handle Faucet.
- Lowe's How to Fix a Dripping or Leaky Single Handle Faucet.
- The Home Depot How to Fix a Leaky Bathtub Faucet.
- WaterSense Bath Hack #2 shows you How to Replace your Faucet Aerator.
Tip: Don't forget to turn off the water line before you start!
A showerhead leaking at 10 drips per minute wastes more than 500 gallons per year. That's the amount of water it takes to wash 60 loads of dishes in your dishwasher. Some leaky showerheads can be fixed by making sure there is a tight connection between the showerhead and the pipe stem and by using pipe tape to secure it. Pipe tape, also called Teflon tape, is available at most hardware stores, is easy to apply, and can help control leaks. For more complicated valve leaks in showers that drip when not in use, contact an experienced handyperson or licensed plumber.
- This WaterSense Showerhead Bath Hack #1 video shows how easy it is to add teflon tape and replace your showerhead.
Tip: It's also a good idea to check and, if needed, replace the washer or "o" ring inside the showerhead while making this repair.