7 Ways You May Be Wasting Water (and Not Even Know It)

Almost every homeowner tries to be diligent when it comes to water leak detection. After all, no one wants to pay more than they have to for their water bills. But here’s the problem: many ways that water is wasted are not obvious. Here are seven of the most frequent culprits:

1. Irrigation system. No, this doesn’t refer to overwatering or having the sprinklers on while it’s raining. But many irrigation systems are connected by tubing or piping that is either susceptible to rust or not hearty enough to withstand the elements. Plus, sprinkler heads can be broken by yard equipment or foot traffic. So watch for water pooling or trickling in your yard where it shouldn’t be.

A pipe valve, wasting water as it drips

2. Crawlspaces. Since you rarely set foot (or wriggle around) in them, water could be leaking from pipes that run through your crawlspaces. You might need to get a flashlight and shine it under the home to find evidence that water is being wasted. As with irrigation systems, unusual pooling or puddling water is a telltale sign; you should also listen for hissing or dripping sounds coming from your foundation.

3. Outdoor spigots or hoses. Even a slow drip from an outside faucet can result in a great deal of wasted water. The seals these spigots can deteriorate over time, so be sure replace them as needed. In addition to — you guessed it — small puddles of water under dripping spigots, listen for a weird hissing noise and/or reduced water pressure when turning them on.

Water spigot

4. Hidden pipes or pipe joints. You’ll probably notice when your under-sink pipes or other visible plumbing is leaking. But this may not be the case if the leak occurs in pipes (especially older ones) that are hidden by your walls. Corrosion can cause leaks to form in the pipes themselves or the joints where two or more pipes come together. So listen for water dripping or hissing noises coming from your walls.

5. Refrigerator icemakers. Wasted water can also be found in the interior of a home. Refrigerators with icemakers and water dispensers have a line that runs from the appliance to a pipe in the wall. If this pipe is leaking slowly, you may not notice the water on your floor underneath or behind your fridge. You should also check the connections and the refrigerator hose for moisture as well.

6. Washing machines. Unless it is severe, a leak in a washing machine hose or line may go unnoticed for months. Fixtures can corrode, and connections can become loose if the washer is moved around (even with uneven loads). So don’t hesitate to pull out the washer and check for standing water. Plus, the supply lines from the wall to the machine should be dry when you touch them.

A toilet

7. Toilet flappers and float valves. The more bathrooms you have in your home, the more opportunities there are for toilet-related water waste. The most common way this occurs is when the flapper in the tank doesn’t close completely after flushing, causing water to run continuously in the tank. And an improperly-functioning float valve can result in the same problem. Both of these are cheap fixes with parts from any hardware store.