WaterSense Celebrates 10-Year Mark

Over the past decade, EPA’s WaterSense program has sparked a market transformation all across North America for irrigation products that save water, energy, and money.

The program was recently threatened by Trump administration budget cuts. (See related article, “AWE Fears WaterSense May Lose Funding.”) But that threat is on hold for now. (See box below.)

Let’s take a look at some of the program’s accomplishments in the last 10 years…

Label and Certification Milestones

Since 2007, more than 21,000 product models of plumbing fixtures and irrigation controllers have earned the WaterSense label for efficiency and performance.  More than 5,000 new models earned the label in 2016 alone. Nearly 68 million individual labeled products have been shipped to date. 

Beginning in 2006, WaterSense certification programs have focused on water-efficient techniques and technologies for certified irrigation system designers, auditors, and installation and maintenance professionals. Since then, thousands of irrigation specialists have been certified and gained an edge in the competitive marketplace.

The Three “P’s” — Products, Practices, People

In an effort to reduce the waste of outdoor water, the EPA program has promoted the three “P’s”— products, practices, and people. This includes:

  • Designing water-smart landscapes that are well-suited for the local climate
  • Installing WaterSense-labeled irrigation controllers, and
  • Hiring WaterSense-certified irrigation professionals.

Their efforts have paid off. For instance, in 2016, the number of labeled irrigation controllers increased by an impressive 63% over the previous year.  These new, web-based models allow users to adjust their irrigation systems via an app on their smartphone.

What’s Next?

In 2017, the WaterSense program is focused on product labeling for pressure-regulating sprinkler bodies. The idea is that large amounts of water can be wasted whenever spray sprinklers operate under higher-than-normal pressure. In other words, significant water savings can be realized by regulating this pressure. To this end, the program recently released a draft specification for these new pressure-regulating sprinklers.

Let’s Keep It Going

The AWE is working to ensure that the WaterSense program can continue unabated. But they need help. Which is why they are seeking signers of letters supporting their proposed legislation to keep it going. To join in this effort, click here.


Environmental Protection Agency

Alliance for Water Efficiency

Interior Appropriations Subcommittee

Every Drop Counts…July Is Smart Irrigation Month

water

It’s that time of year again…July is Smart Irrigation Month and, as usual, there are many ways  for businesses and consumers to participate in the campaign.

First launched in 2005, Smart Irrigation Month continues to gain traction each year as consumers and irrigation specialists alike recognize the positive impact efficient irrigation and water use provides to all of us.

Give this a try!

Place a few empty tuna cans around your lawn while you’re watering and measure how long it takes your sprinkler to fill them with a half inch of water. Then, try watering that amount of time twice a week, gauge how your landscape responds, and adjust based on weather conditions. Or simplify by replacing your standard clock timer controller with a WaterSense labeled irrigation controller.

Smart Systems

Among the strategies being presented to consumers, first and foremost is proper programming of automatic watering or sprinkler systems to deliver just the right amount of water at the right time. Additional strategies include:

  • smartProper landscaping, keeping soil healthy, mulching and routine landscape maintenance
  • Investing in an irrigation system that uses the best, most flexible, components, has “smart” controls, and meets code requirements
  • Watering during the evening and early morning to prevent evaporation, taking soil type and sprinkler placement into consideration
  • Maintaining the sprinkler system regularly by adjusting sprinkler heads, repairing leaks and monitoring pressure

WaterSense

According the the EPA’s WaterSense website, adopting water–savvy habits also is essential to maintaining and extending our communities’ water supplies, especially during peak use. WaterSense partners with manufacturers, retailers/distributors, and utilities to bring high-performing, water-efficient products to the marketplace. WaterSense also partners with professional certifying organizations to promote water–efficient landscape irrigation practices. Since the program began in 2006, WaterSense has helped consumers save a total of 1.5 trillion gallons of water, resulting in more than $32.6 billion in water and energy bill savings.

Smart Ideas

Since July is the peak month for water consumption, the national Smart Irrigation campaign is encouraging industrial firms and professionals to promote smart irrigation practices and technologies, as well.   Here are some of the many  “Smart Ideas” to promote the national campaign that are listed on the Irrigation Association website:

  • SIM_LogoAdd the Smart Irrigation Month logo to your web site, ads, customer presentations, field signs, invoices and more.
  • Submit a press release or letter to the editor of your local newspaper.
  • Ask employees to add the Smart Irrigation Month logo to their e-mail signature block.
  • Hand out Smart Irrigation Month bumper stickers at your next contractor meeting.
  • Host a live demonstration of water-saving irrigation technologies, in the field or at your location.
  • Feature water-efficient products and services in displays, ads, promotions and product demos with the Smart Irrigation Month logo.
  • Use a banner, outside signage or counter sign to encourage customers to ask about how smart irrigation can save water and money.
  • Smart Irrigation Controller RebateMake smart irrigation the theme of sales calls.
  • Stick a Smart Irrigation Month label on every box that goes out the door.
  • Give awards to customers and/or business partners who promote water-efficient practices.
  • Volunteer to speak to a local homeowner association, garden club or civic group.
  • Distribute copies of the Smart Irrigation Month coloring book at a farmers market or county fair.
  • Ask your local radio station to play a public service announcement, promoting July as Smart Irrigation Month.

What are YOU doing to promote Smart Irrigation Month?  Remember…Every Drop Counts!


Sources:

Irrigation Association, http://www.irrigation.org/Resources/SmartIrrigationMonth/SmartIdeas.aspx

EPA WaterSense,  https://www3.epa.gov/watersense/pubs/efficient.html

 

 

WaterSense® Program Accomplishments

U.S. EPA WaterSense® Program Accomplishments

Since the program’s inception in 2006, WaterSense has grown dramatically. Here are some of their most significant accomplishments:

  • The program has more than 1,613 organizational partners.
  • The program has helped consumers save a cumulative1 trillion gallons of water, resulting in saving over $21.7 billion in water and energy bills.
  • Through the use of labeled products, by the end of 2014 reductions of 146 billion kWh of electricity and 54 million metric tons of carbon dioxide were achieved.
  • The  labeled products program has proven to be overwhelmingly successful. Originally there were twenty-two labeled products. Today, the label is found on more than 1,600 models of showerheads, 1,900 models of tank-type toilets, 6,800 models of faucet or faucet accessory models, and 150 models of weather–based irrigation controllers.

Water Savings

  • Labeled products that are 20 percent more water-efficient and perform as well as or better than standard models.
  • Labeled faucets—or aerators that can be installed on existing bathroom faucets—are about 30 percent more efficient than standard faucets while still providing sufficient flow.
  • Labeled toilets use 20 percent less water per flush but perform as well as or better than today’s standard toilets and older toilets that use much more water.

Key Milestones

  • The launch of the Single-Family New Home Specification, and the first labeled homes entered the market in December of 2009. As of the end of 2014, the total number of  labeled homes across the country is at 449.
  • Celebrated their eight annual Partner of the Year awards in October 2015.
Lisa Jackson

Lisa Jackson

“The WaterSense® program is a great way of empowering consumers to make a difference for our environment. WaterSense continues to raise awareness about the value of smart water use and, by growing our green economy, is moving the marketplace to preserve one of our most precious resources.”

– Lisa P. Jackson, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator

2014 WaterSense Accomplishments

 

 


Program Accomplishment Sources:

http://www3.epa.gov/watersense/about_us/milestones.html

http://www3.epa.gov/watersense/about_us/facts.html

EPA WaterSense® – Friend or Foe

WaterSense® – Is it Working?

As reported by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), “America’s consumption of the public water supply continues to increase.” Our use of water can be improved, and in many cases, at little or no cost. Water efficiency can be effectively achieved through education and the implementation of conservation strategies such as the use of non-potable water in the landscape.

The Need for the WaterSense Program

EPA WaterSens LogoCommercial and residential outdoor water use in the United States accounts for more than 7 billion gallons of water each day, mainly for landscape irrigation. As much as half of that is lost or wasted due to evaporation, wind, or improper irrigation design, installation, and lack of consistent maintenance.[1]

From all of the controversy centering on landscapes being a waste of water and natural resources, the EPA developed the WaterSense program to foster water conservation and the efficient use of water both indoors and out.

The program is designed to help protect the future of our nation’s water supply by promoting water efficiency and enhancing the market for water-efficient products, programs, and practices.[2]

Jeff Carowitz, an long-time industry veteran, is hopeful that the EPA’s WaterSense Program will enjoy the same success as the ENERGY STAR® Program

User Feedback on the WaterSense Program

The EPA’s WaterSense program has the potential to have a profound effect on the landscape irrigation industry.

 John Newlin, Quality Sprinkler Services, Likes the Program

John Newlin, owner of Quality Services, an irrigation contractor in Cleveland, Ohio shared his thoughts:

John Newlin, Secretary, Ohio Irrigation Association

“I like the program. The EPA has been very professional with their marketing materials. This helps me promote my business. The information and marketing materials provided by the WaterSense program are excellent. The best part is that it does not cost me anything.”

Newlin says the EPA is doing an excellent job of developing consumer awareness toward water conservation. WaterSense is helping to modify behavior without resorting to restrictive legislation.

“I am not sure I liked it when the EPA opened the door for irrigation certification to companies like Rain Bird and other associations. I think the Irrigation Association should be certifying irrigation contractors, but I like the certification requirement.”

Overall, Newlin likes the EPA’s WaterSense program. Newlin says, “By continuing to raise the standards for performance in the landscape irrigation industry, it will make the industry stronger.”

 

Kurt Thompson, Training & Technical Director – Irrigation for Massey Services in Florida sees both positive and negative effects of the EPA WaterSense program.

Kurt Thompson“I like the product labeling program and the professional certification program. The WaterSense program can provide good pull-through for manufacturers’ products. The certification standard helps to raise the level of professionalism in the landscape irrigation industry.”

Thompson dislikes the ‘one-size-fits all’ component of the WaterSense home program. “The data provided by the EPA does not allow for the differences in climate across the country,” says Thompson, “Because the data is based upon a fixed climatic condition, it cannot be an effective tool where those conditions are not typical. On the West coast it will do a great job. However, on the East coast it will not work as effectively.”

“I would like to see some provisions for irrigation system maintenance,” continues Thompson. “I see too many irrigation systems that have not been looked at since installation. The state of disrepair in these systems is disheartening. It is so easy to save water with a little bit of attention.”

Overall, Thompson says, “The beauty of EPA’s WaterSense program is that it is encouraging more people to be properly trained in correct irrigation practices.”

Brain Vinchesi, Owner of Irrigation Consulting, is a Proponent

Brian Vinchesi, consultant and owner of Irrigation Consulting, Inc. and winner of the EPA’s WaterSense Partner of the Year – 2009, is a proponent of the WaterSense program.

Brian VinchesiHe spends much of his time advocating for water conservation and promoting water efficiency throughout the industry. Vinchesi shares, “The public relations effort by the EPA’s WaterSense program is excellent for the industry. Generally speaking, the EPA’s attempt to look at water savings like energy savings is great.”

Vinchesi has reservations with the water budget inaccuracies in the technical data. Evapotranspiration in July is the basis for the water budget. There are wide variations in evapotranspiration rates across the country. July is not always the peak water-use month. The water budget gives too much water to drier areas of the country and not enough water to wetter areas of the country. In wetter areas, using July as the driest month will not save as much water. In wetter climates, more water savings could be achieved in other months. Additionally, in other parts of the country, Arizona for example, July is not the month with the highest level of evapotranspiration.

Vinchesi feels the WaterSense label campaign for products is working well. However, he feels that the WaterSense labeling for new homes is a little too prescriptive and the science behind some of the assumptions is lacking.

Vinchesi’s biggest concern for the future of the WaterSense program is that the limitation on funding has kept the EPA from doing more. “Overall,” Vinchesi says, “everyone at the EPA works very hard. The awards program is good and has been expanded. The EPA has done an excellent job.”

“The irrigation industry needs to see more products with the WaterSense label. The plumbing industry has more experience in working with government agencies and is more adept at consensus-based decisions. The irrigation industry is slowly learning how to work with this style of decision making.”

Vinchesi believes that in the future, the WaterSense program will need additional funding. “It is taking too long to get things done. The EPA is on-track with product labeling, but there needs to be better research and science behind the water budget and WaterSense labeling for new home construction. Commercial and institutional standards need to be developed.”

Tim Malooly – 2008 WaterSense Irrigation Partner of the Year

Tim Malooly, President of Water in Motion and 2008 WaterSense Irrigation Partner of the Tim MaloolyYear, has been involved with the EPA’s WaterSense program since its inception in 2005. He likes the program’s goal of achieving a 20% water savings without adversely affecting the lifestyle of consumers.

He feels that the premise of developing consumer awareness of our water resources through a strong educational effort is great. “It’s all about affecting behavior,” says Malooly, “There is a great deal of work to do in building consumer awareness. The consumer can have a huge impact on saving water by understanding the difference between a properly designed and installed irrigation system and a poorly installed irrigation system. Additionally, the consumer can save even more water by interacting and adjusting their irrigation controller on a regular basis.”

Malooly’s concern lies in the tendency of concentrating the agency’s efforts on developing a standard for a technological device like weather-based controllers that will reduce water usage when educating consumers can have a far greater impact.

“Picking SMART controller as the initial product for the first WaterSense labeled irrigation device was probably a mistake,” says Malooly, “There are other, more conventional devices, like rain sensors and spray heads with built-in pressure regulators, that could have been WaterSense labeled faster because of a wider level of acceptance within the landscape irrigation industry.”

Malooly is concerned that the WaterSense New Home Specification has some flaws. Developing a specification that is easily administered across the country is difficult. Malooly adds, “The water budget tool is workable but needs some refinement. There are regional differences that are vital to consider.”

“In the future, realizing that this is a living document and the specifications are subject to change is important. All of us in the landscape irrigation industry can play an important part in the development of this program,” says Malooly.

The EPA’s opinions carry a lot of weight in conservation organizations. Working with the landscape irrigation industry is important as the EPA moves forward in increasing consumer awareness of water conservation. “Hopefully, the International Code Council will assist in developing a standard for the irrigation industry,” concludes Malooly.

Judy Benson – 2010 WaterSense Irrigation Partner of the Year

Judy Benson EPA Award

Judy Benson, left, receiving the 2010 U.S. EPA WaterSense
Partner of the Year Award

 

Judy Benson, owner of Clear Water Products & Services and 2010 WaterSense Irrigation Partner of the Year likes the EPA’s WaterSense program. “The EPA WaterSense program is on the right track,” says Benson, “Although there is some room for improvement, this program raises the bar by requiring certification for performance standards. This helps to professionalize the industry. We need more contractors to get on-board with the program.”

While the WaterSense product labeling is a good idea, its implementation has been too slow for the irrigation industry. Benson would like to see more outdoor products with the WaterSense label, and adds, “The WaterSense New Home Specification needs some adjustment.”

Benson would also like to see a recertification program for older properties. “Too many irrigations systems are installed here in Florida and not looked at afterwards,” says Benson, “All irrigation systems require attention and maintenance to perform properly.”

“Overall, the EPA WaterSense program is on the right path. The program is more suggestive than prescriptive,” says Benson, “and that is a good thing.”

Jeff Carowitz, owner of Strategic Force Marketing, thinks the EPA’s WaterSense program is a good program. He sees a lot of changes facing the irrigation industry today, and believes the EPA’s WaterSense program raises consumer awareness. Carowitz exclaims, “In building business, it is up to the contractor to effectively use the program.”

Carowitz is hopeful that the EPA’s WaterSense program will enjoy the same success as the EPA’s ENERGY STAR program. The ENERGY STAR program, by creating a standard for energy efficiency, has helped create demand for energy efficient products. This helps consumers make more informed decisions on their purchases. Carowitz believes that the EPA’s WaterSense program can assist manufacturers, suppliers, and contractors in positively promoting water efficiency to consumers.

The U.S. EPA WaterSense Program is on the Right Track

From the interviews conducted for the landscape irrigation industry, the EPA is on the right track with the WaterSense program. Those familiar with the program appreciate the program’s ability to educate the public about water conservation and water efficiency. Concerns point to the program’s ability to create products and procedures usable in variable locations and climates, both nationally and internationally.

The EPA exerts considerable influence with the American consumer and throughout the world. With that said, the program’s product labeling campaign helps manufacturers increase product sales and gives consumers more information about a product’s water saving ability.

Most agree that water is a precious and vital resource; water conservation is readily accepted as something both consumers and industry professional must address. Creating programs that educate, standardize, and work effectively are no longer optional. The best solutions are often those that are created from a shared responsibility for a positive and effective outcome.


 

[1] http://www.epa.gov/WaterSense/pubs/cert_programs.html

[2] http://www.epa.gov/WaterSense/about_us/why_watersense.html

What is WaterSense®?

What is U.S. EPA WaterSense®?

EPA WaterSens LogoLaunched in June of 2006, the EPA’s WaterSense program created a goal to educate the public and consumers in the importance of water conservation. During the 2006 American Water Works Association’s Annual Conference and Exposition in San Antonio, Texas, EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson informed, “Commercial and residential outdoor water use in the United States accounts for more than seven billion gallons of water each day, mainly for landscape irrigation.” The EPA estimates over three and a half billion gallons of water are wasted every day from inefficient and ineffective landscape irrigation practices. More than fifty percent of irrigation water used in residential and commercial irrigation systems is wasted.

The EPA’s WaterSense Program is a program designed to promote water conservation and the efficient use of water through education, not regulation. There are four primary features of the program.

Consumer Education

WaterSense is working towards protecting our nation’s water supply by educating consumers and businesses in water efficient practices, programs, and products.

FixALeakWeekThe Fix a Leak Week campaign, held annually in March, is one of the ways WaterSense is bringing water conservation awareness to the public. The EPA reports that the average American home leaks over 10,000 gallons of water each year. Nationally, this represents over 1 trillion gallons of water lost.

We’re for Water” campaign was launched to encourage consumers to make simple changes to save water. The cornerstone of the campaign is a series of print public service announcements featuring Flo, the WaterSense spokesgallon. The public outreach campaign traveled the country passing out 500 WaterSense labeled aerator faucets in order to raise awareness about how easy water conservation can be at home.

We're for WaterAs part of the “We’re for Water” campaign, the “I’m for Water” program asks individuals to take a pledge and commit to checking off one or more simple tasks each month to save precious water resources. The program provides tips on how to use less water and spend less on utility bills.

Professional Certification Programs

EPA Watersense Product LogoIrrigation professionals can earn a WaterSense labeled certification by demonstrating expertise in water-efficient irrigation technology and techniques. The specifications cover three areas: irrigation system design, installation and maintenance, and system auditing.

Irrigation professionals can distinguish themselves from competitors through certification and a documented commitment to the program of water efficiency. Certified irrigation professionals are listed in WaterSense’s Directory of Certified Professionals, making it easy for consumers and businesses to find local irrigation experts.

The Irrigation Association’s certification program was the first certifying partner to be approved by the EPA. The following is a list of professional certification programs that have earned the WaterSense label[1].

Irrigation System Design

§  Certified Irrigation Designer (CID) (landscape/turf specialties only) – Offered by the Irrigation Association, available nationwide.

§ Irrigation System Installation and Maintenance

§  Certified Irrigation Contractor (CIC) – Offered by the Irrigation Association, available nationwide.

Irrigation System Audits

§  Certified Golf Irrigation Auditor (CGIA) – Offered by the Irrigation Association, nationwide.

§  Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor (CLIA) – Offered by the Irrigation Association, available nationwide.

§  Certified Water Management Program – Offered by the California Landscape Contractors Association, available in California.

§  Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper (QWEL) – Offered by the Sonoma–Marin Saving Water Partnership, available in California, Utah, New Mexico, Florida, Wyoming. Available for adoption nationwide.

§  Texas Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor Program (TxCLIA) – Offered by Texas A&M AgrilLife Extension Service, Texas A&M School of Irrigation, available in Texas.

§  Watershed Wise Landscape Professional (WWLP) – Offered by G3LA, LLC, available in California and west of the Rocky Mountains.

Product Labeling

Products that carry the WaterSense label generally demonstrate a 20% water savings over conventional products. WaterSense labeled products are tested by independent, third party testing and certification agencies. The certification process is rigorous, assuring consumers that a WaterSense labeled product will deliver exceptional performance and water savings.

WaterSense has issued final product specifications and technical clarifications for the following product categories[2]:

WaterSense New Home GraphicNew Home Specification

The WaterSense New Home Specification is designed to reduce residential water use, both indoors and outdoors, when compared to a conventional new home. The program focuses on hot water, as well as water use in the bathroom, kitchen, and landscaping.

American homes average 75 gallons of water use per person per day. The EPA claims that compared to an existing home, a WaterSense labeled home could save more than $200 per year on water and energy bills. The WaterSense New Home Specification works well with other green building programs like ENERGY STAR, LEED®, and the National Green Building Standard.

The water we use everyday is vital and limited. We as an industry have both an opportunity and a responsibility to increase our water conservation efforts. The EPA’s WaterSense program has proven we can increase water efficiency and develop practices that help preserve this precious resource. To find out more about the benefits of a WaterSense labeled home and the latest in program news, read the WaterSense Blueprint, a quarterly update dedicated to news and events related to WaterSense labeled new homes.



[1] http://www3.epa.gov/watersense/outdoor/cert_programs.html

[2] http://www3.epa.gov/watersense/partners/product_program_specs.html

 

Specifications for Soil Moisture Sensors Being Developed by EPA WaterSense

Soil Moisture Sensors – The Most Effective Way to Irrigate

Rain Bird Soil Moisture SensorSoil moisture–based control technologies water plants based on their needs by measuring the amount of moisture in the soil and tailoring irrigation schedules accordingly. Studies suggest that soil moisture sensors can result in water savings of at least 20 percent, potentially saving millions of gallons of water across the country. Soil moisture–based control technologies that earn the WaterSense label will take the guesswork out of watering and help improve irrigation system efficiency.

As an alternative to convention irrigation controllers, soil moisture-based control technologies make irrigation schedule adjustments by automatically tailoring the amount and frequency and timing of irrigation events based on the moisture content of the soil in the landscape.

WaterSense has issued its Notice of Intent to develop a specification for soil moisture–based control technologies. If you are interested in participating in developing the specification for  soil moisture-based control technology Click Here to send your comments to the EPA WaterSense Program.

Approved Weather-based Irrigation Controller Specification

Watermark Soil Moisture Control SystemSoil moisture-based control is designed to work in conjunction with the WaterSense Weather-based Irrigation Controller Specification. Replacing a standard irrigation controller with a WaterSense labeled irrigation controller can save an average home nearly 8,800 gallons of water annually. If every home in the United States with an automatic sprinkler system installed and properly operated a WaterSense labeled controller, we could save $435 million in water costs and 120 billion gallons of water across the country annually from not overwatering lawns and landscapes. That’s equal to the annual household water needs of nearly 1.3 million average American homes.

Earning the WaterSense Label

To earn the WaterSense label, landscape irrigation controllers must be able to adequately meet the watering needs of a landscape without overwatering. As with all other WaterSense labeled products, WaterSense labeled controllers will be independently certified to ensure that they meet the WaterSense criteria for efficiency and performance.

About the EPA WaterSense Program

EPA Watersense Product LogoWaterSense, a partnership program by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, seeks to protect the future of our nation’s water supply by offering people a simple way to use less water with water-efficient products, new homes, and services.

WaterSense brings together a variety of stakeholders to:

  •  Promote the value of water efficiency.
  • Provide consumers with easy ways to save water, as both a label for products and an information resource to help people use water more efficiently.
  • Encourage innovation in manufacturing.
  • Decrease water use and reduce strain on water resources and infrastructure.

The program seeks to help consumers make smart water choices that save money and maintain high environmental standards without compromising performance. Products and services that have earned the WaterSense label have been certified to be at least 20 percent more efficient without sacrificing performance.

Upgrading to more efficient WaterSense labeled products can help us to save billions of gallons of water in the country every year. Something as simple as twisting on a WaterSense labeled aerator and upgrading to a WaterSense labeled faucet could save a household 11,000 gallons over the life of the faucet. Learn more about how you can save water and help WaterSense preserve and protect our nation’s water resources.

 

Fix A Leak Week – March 18-24, 2013

Fix a Leak Week 2013Fix A Leak

Because

Every Drop Counts

March 18-24, 2013

Did you know that the average American family can waste, on average, more than 11,000 gallons of water every year due to running toilets, dripping faucets, and other household leaks?

Nationwide, more than 1 trillion gallons of water leak from U.S. homes each year. That’s why WaterSense reminds Americans to check their plumbing fixtures and irrigation systems each year during Fix a Leak Week.

WaterSense is teaming up with our partners to promote the fifth annual Fix a Leak Week, March 18-24, 2013.

From New Mexico’s search for bad flappers to leak detection efforts in Texas, West Virginia and across the nation, explore our list of some of the Fix a Leak Week 2012 events. For all the latest on Fix a Leak Week events happening across the country, be sure to follow us on Facebook Exit EPA Disclaimer and Twitter

 

Checking for Leaks

To check for leaks in your home, first you need to determine whether you’re wasting water, then identify the source of the leak.

  • Take a look at your water usage during a colder month, such as January or February. If a family of four exceeds 12,000 gallons per month, there are serious leaks.
  • Check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter changes at all, you probably have a leak.
  • Identify toilet leaks by placing a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If any color shows up in the bowl after 15 minutes, you have a leak. (Be sure to flush immediately after the experiment to avoid staining the tank.)
  • Examine faucet gaskets and pipe fittings for any water on the outside of the pipe to check for surface leaks.
  • The Regional Water Providers Consortium has a video on detecting household leaksExit EPA Disclaimerthat you may find helpful.

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Fix a Leak: Toilets

A common reason why toilets will leak is an old or worn out toilet flapper (sometimes called a “valve seal”). Flappers are inexpensive rubber parts that can build up minerals or decay over time. Replacing them can be a quick and easy fix for your water woes. To fix this leak, consult your local hardware store, home improvement retailer, or licensed plumber. Here are some online resources from WaterSense partners:

Tip: Bring the old flapper to the hardware store for comparison to make sure you buy a new flapper that fits your toilet model. You can also check the owner’s manual, if you have it, or the manufacturer’s Web site for the appropriate replacement part number for the flapper.

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Fix a Leak: Faucets

Old and worn faucet washers and gaskets frequently cause leaks in faucets. Many tutorials are available online for how to fix a wide variety of faucets. Here are a couple of examples:

Tip: Don’t forget to turn off the water line before you start!

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Fix a Leak: Showerheads

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 tame unruly leaks. For more complicated valve leaks in showers that drip when not in use, contact an experienced handyperson or licensed plumber.

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.

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Fix a Leak: Outdoors

If you have an in-ground irrigation system, check it each spring before use to make sure it wasn’t damaged by frost or freezing. Or hire a WaterSense irrigation partner to inspect it for you. These professionals have passed a certification program focused on water efficiency. They will not only help you detect and correct leaks in the system, but also maximize its efficiency.

Finally, check your garden hose for leaks at its connection to the spigot. If it leaks while you run your hose, replace the nylon or rubber hose washer and ensure a tight connection to the spigot using pipe tape and a wrench.

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Leaks Still Flowing Overboard?

Have you done all that you can to try to eliminate leaks from your home but still can’t nip that drip in the bud?

If you’ve already determined you have leaks and you find these step-by-step solutions aren’t enough to stop them, it might be time to replace your leaking fixtures. If you consult with a plumbing professional, and look for the WaterSense label if you are considering a new toilet or faucet, you could increase your home’s water efficiency.

See a complete list of WaterSense labeled products.

The Facts on Leaks:

  • Leaks can account for, on average, 10,000 gallons of water wasted in the home every year, which is enough to fill a backyard swimming pool.
  • The amount of water leaked from U.S. homes could exceed more than 1 trillion gallons per year. That’s equivalent to the annual water use of Los Angeles, Chicago, and Miami combined.
  • Ten percent of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day.
  • Common types of leaks found in the home include leaking toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and other leaking valves. All are easily correctable.
  • Fixing easily corrected household water leaks can save homeowners more than 10 percent on their water bills.
  • Keep your home leak-free by repairing dripping faucets, toilet valves, and showerheads. In most cases, fixture replacement parts don’t require a major investment and can be installed by do-it-yourselfers.
  • The vast majority of leaks can be eliminated after retrofitting a household with new WaterSense labeled fixtures and other high-efficiency appliances.

Leak Detection:

  • A good method to check for leaks is to examine your winter water usage. It’s likely that a family of four has a serious leak problem if its winter water use exceeds 12,000 gallons per month.
  • Check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter does not read exactly the same, you probably have a leak.
  • One way to find out if you have a toilet leak is to place a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If the color shows up in the bowl within 15 minutes without flushing, you have a leak. Make sure to flush immediately after this experiment to avoid staining the tank.

Faucets and Showerheads:

  • A leaky faucet that drips at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year. A home with WaterSense labeled toilets could use that water to flush for six months!
  • Leaky faucets can be reduced by checking faucet washers and gaskets for wear and replacing them if necessary. If you are replacing a faucet, look for the WaterSense label.
  • A showerhead leaking at 10 drips per minute wastes more than 500 gallons per year. That’s enough water to wash 60 loads of dishes in your dishwasher.
  • Most leaky showerheads can be fixed by ensuring a tight connection using pipe tape and a wrench.

Toilets:

  • If your toilet is running constantly, you could be wasting 200 gallons of water or more every day.
  • If your toilet is leaking, the cause is most often an old, faulty toilet flapper. Over time, this inexpensive rubber part decays, or minerals build up on it. It’s usually best to replace the whole rubber flapper—a relatively easy, inexpensive do-it-yourself project that pays for itself in no time.
  • If you do need to replace the entire toilet, look for a WaterSense labeled model. If a family of four replaces its older, inefficient toilets with new WaterSense labeled ones, it could save more than 16,000 gallons per year. Retrofitting the house could save the family approximately $2,000 in water and wastewater bills over the lifetime of the toilets.

Outdoors:

  • An irrigation system should be checked each spring before use to make sure it was not damaged by frost or freezing.
  • An irrigation system with pressure set at 60 pounds per square inch that has a leak 1/32nd of an inch in diameter (about the thickness of a dime) can waste about 6,300 gallons of water per month.
  • To ensure that your in-ground irrigation system is not leaking water, consult with a WaterSense irrigation partner who has passed a certification program focused on water efficiency; look for a WaterSense irrigation partner.
  • Check your garden hose for leaks at its connection to the spigot. If it leaks while you run your hose, replace the nylon or rubber hose washer and ensure a tight connection to the spigot using pipe tape and a wrench.