You have probably experienced the annoyance of a faucet that just won’t stop dripping. While you may dismiss it as a fleeting irritation, it can actually waste large amounts of water and could even cause serious damage to your home. Fortunately, leaking faucets often require only simple, inexpensive repairs. Below, we’ll discuss how to assess the problem, what to do about it, and share more water-saving tips.
Why Do Faucets Drip?
Your faucet can drip for a variety of reasons. Below are some of the most common:
- Frequently, the problem is a worn-out washer. When water is running, washers are pushed up against the valve, creating friction that wears them out over time. Dripping can also happen if the washer is the wrong size for the faucet or if it’s improperly installed.
- A corroded valve seat (the connection between the faucet and the spout) can be corroded by mineral deposits, leading to faucet leaks. Depending on the type of faucet, you may be able to remove the corroded valve and replace it with a new one. If this isn’t an option, you may need to replace the whole faucet.
- High water pressure can cause water to drip intermittently. Suspect this cause if the faucet is dripping only at certain times of day or when you’re doing certain things around the house.
Once you understand why your faucet is dripping, it is important to address the issue right away. It may not seem like much, but wasted water unnecessarily inflates your utility bills and undermines conservation efforts. In fact, a leaky faucet can waste more than 3,000 gallons of water every year. That’s 180 showers’ worth of water leaking from your faucet.
Impacts of Faucets Dripping
Even if your dripping faucet doesn’t seem like a big deal, wasted water affects us all. Household leaks can waste close to 1 trillion gallons of water per year in the U.S. This waste strains the environment, puts public health at risk, and can cost homeowners an increased water bills as well as potential water damage to the home.
If a dripping faucet isn’t addressed in a timely manner, that small amount of water can accumulate and begin to wear down any grout or caulking around the sink. The now-damaged seal allows water to flow down the sink and into the floorboards and the surrounding area. Not only does this lead to water damage in the walls or floor, but it can also be the perfect environment for mold or mildew growth.
Solutions for a Dripping Faucet
Sometimes, it can be simple to fix a dripping faucet, but be sure to turn off the water supply before attempting any repairs. You don’t want an extra mess to clean up!
- First, check all the components of your faucet. If you find a part that’s broken or damaged, find it at your local hardware store and replace it, if possible.
- If nothing seems damaged, try tightening any loose pieces, such as the washers and connections. Don’t over-tighten, however, or you could break the component.
- If these steps don’t solve the problem, you can try checking the water pressure.
If you’re unable to fix the problem on your own, it’s time to call a professional plumber.
Preventing Faucet Leaks
You can help keep your faucets in good condition with some simple maintenance:
- Regularly wipe down your faucets with mild soap to remove grime and help prevent corrosion.
- Check frequently for mineral buildup, and clean with vinegar and water or a gentle cleaner as needed. You can soak mineral buildup for an hour or so to loosen it before rinsing thoroughly.
- Each month, unscrew the aerators from their spouts and clean them thoroughly before reattaching. This can help regulate water pressure to reduce water waste. If monthly seems like too much, try at least two to three times a year. Sometimes is better than never!
Save Water with Efficient Features
Installing water-efficient fixtures and components like low-flow aerators, sensor-activated faucets, and dual-flush toilets can aid water conservation efforts while minimizing your utility bills.
- Low-flow aerators can reduce the flow of water by up to half (from 2–3 gallons per minute to 1–1.5) without compromising water pressure.
- Sensor-activated (touchless) faucets, like those often used in public bathrooms, turn off automatically and keep water at a constant temperature to save energy. They can also reduce the spread of germs by eliminating the need to touch the faucet during hand washing.
- Dual-flush toilets allow you to choose the appropriate water volume for each flush: less for liquid waste and more for solid waste. Dual-flush toilets also use fewer gallons per flush than ordinary toilets, and those that carry the EPA's WaterSense label are certified to meet the organization’s standards for efficiency and performance. The WaterSense label guarantees that products use at least 20% less water, save energy, and perform as well or better than other models. The EPA estimates the average family can save 13,000 gallons of water and $130 on their water bills each year by replacing all old, inefficient toilets in their home with WaterSense labeled models.
The Pacific Sheet Metal team includes experienced master plumbers who can help fix leaks, install water-saving fixtures, and respond to emergencies around the clock in Western Colorado.
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