Bet you didn’t know that the Environmental Protection Agency says this is National Fix-a-Leak Week — a time to head to your basement in search of water savings.

“Leaks add up to approximately 11,000 gallons of wasted water per home each year – enough to fill a backyard swimming pool,” said David Stoneback, Superintendent of Evanston’s Water and Sewer Division. “The City is participating in Fix-a-Leak Week to show homeowners how to save money on utility bills with a few simple tweaks and to raise awareness of the importance of water efficiency for current and future generations.”

Stoneback offers the following tips on checking for and fixing leaks:

First, locate your water meter. It should be inside your house and located where your main water service enters your home, generally in the basement or crawlspace. Your water meter has a main dial that tracks your overall water usage. Next to that is a small leak detecting dial, often with no numbers on it. That dial will spin when it detects even very small amounts of water use. Wait until a time when there is no water use, and if the dial is spinning, chances are that you have a leak.

Next, you will need to locate the leaks. Dripping faucets are usually obvious and are frequently caused by a worn washer. Leaking toilets can be harder to detect. While a toilet that is constantly running makes noise, a smaller leak can be silent. In order to test your leak, put a toilet dye test tablet or food coloring in the tank of your toilet. Wait 20 to 30 minutes (without flushing). If any traces of color show up in the toilet bowl, you have found a leak.

How much money can you save by fixing these leaks? A small drip from a worn faucet washer can leak 20 gallons per day. That will cost over $4 per month on your water bill. A fully running toilet can leak 4 – 5 gallons per minute. That can cost $42 per day! Many leaks can be fixed by the homeowner for minimal cost. Don’t know how to fix the leak? Go to the library and get a book or just type “fix a leaking faucet” or “fix a leaking toilet” in a web search and you will find videos on how to fix any leak.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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