Water leaks are one of the more common sources of water use in a residential home. According to the Water Research Foundation's 2016 report on Residential End Uses, leaks account for 14% of total water use per home on average.
Below is the Top 5 Leaks that Sacramento Suburban Water District staff has been finding during or Leak Investigation Program. If you think you have a leak, you can sign up for a Leak Investigation and our trained staff will help you investigate the source of the leak.
- Toilet Flapper Valve
- Toilet Tank High Water Line
- Sprinkler Valves
- Hose Bib
- Pool/Pond Autofill Device
1. Toilet Flapper Valve
The most common leak we find in homes is the toilet flapper. The toilet flapper is a device that keeps the water in the tank from flowing into the bowl. When the handle is pulled, the flapper lifts up and allows the water to flow into the bowl, flushing the waste down the toilet. Overtime, the flapper can become worn out, especially if cleaning tablets containing bleach are used in the tank. To test for a flapper leak, simply drop some food coloring or toilet dye tabs in the tank and wait 5 minutes. If the bowl water turns the color of the food coloring or tabs, you have a flapper leak. Toilet dye tabs are available for pick up at our Administrative office located at 3701 Marconi Ave. SSWD will also provide complementary replacement flappers upon request. Just call 916.679.2898 to request a replacement flapper.
2. Toilet Tank High Water Line
The second most common leak we find in homes is a high water line in the toilet tank. Toilet tanks are designed to not overflow by way of an overfill pipe next to the auto fill valve. If the float on the auto fill valve is malfunctioning or set too high, water will begin leaking into the overfill pipe and down through the back of the bowl. The problem with water leaking into the overfill pipe is that, most of the time, this type of leak cannot be found with food coloring or dye tabs. To find a high water line leak, you must take off the toilet tank lid and inspect the water line. If the water line is near the top of the overfill pipe, shine a flashlight in the pipe. If you see water running into the overfill pipe you can either adjust the autofill float down to reduce the water line to 1/2 - 1 inch below the top of the overfill pipe, or replace the autofill device if it is defective.
3. Sprinkler Valves
The third most common leak we find around the home are leaking sprinkler valves. Usage and weather exposure can wear out sprinkler valves over time. When the valve fails, water will seep by and head to the lowest point in that sprinkler zone. The water will either puddle in the landscape or run out onto the sidewalk and into the gutter causing slippery moss to grow during the warmer months. If you find a broken sprinkler valve, please replace it as soon as possible.
4. Hose Bibs
The fourth most common leak we find around the home is the hose bib. Hose bibs are the outside spigot that normally has a garden hose attached. Over time, the packing inside the valve can wear out and start leaking through the shut off handle, or the "stem" part of the valve can become worn and not seat correctly in the shut off position. A hose bib with leaking packing can be repaired by tightening the "stuffing box" or "packing nut" below the shut off handle. If the stem isn't seating properly, you may need to replace the seat washer or replace the hose bib all together.
5. Pool or Pond Auto-Fill
And, finally, the fifth most common leak we find around the home are the pool or pond auto-fill device. The auto-fill device works the same way as a toilet. As people use the pool and splash water out or the sun evaporates the water from the pool or pond, the auto-fill device will kick on and fill the pool or pond to the desired level. Over time, these devices can fail and continuously fill the pool or pond. Now, you might be wondering how the pool or pond doesn't overflow, but many pools and ponds are designed with an overfill pipe that will lead water to a natural drain making these leaks harder to find. If you suspect you have a leak in your auto-fill device, check the device, find your overflow pipe, and look inside. If water is actively flowing into the overflow pipe, you may need to either adjust the height of the float mechanism or replace the device.