With the serious drought conditions we are suffering in Texas, water conservation is on everyone's mind. Lake levels are dangerously low, outside water use has been restricted and residential conservation surcharges are even being imposed when residents use over 1,500 cubic feet of water in a billing cycle. An undetected plumbing leak can be very costly to the homeowner. There are some things you can do yourself to help insure you do not receive a suddenly high water bill.
First, check to make sure your toilets are not leaking. The toilet is the number one culprit for wasting water and hiding leaks. Did you know that a leaking toilet can waste hundreds of undetected gallons of water a day? It's a simple test to see if your toilet is leaking. Carefully remove the tank cover and any bowl cleaners that color the water. Begin the test with clear water in the tank and bowl. Drop enough food coloring in the tank to give the water a deep color. Wait 30 minutes and make sure no one uses the toilet. If after 30 minutes you find any of the dyed water is now in the toilet bowl, you have a leak.
Dripping faucets and water on the floor inside the home tell us very quickly that we have a problem but many times we don't notice what is happening outside. Take a walk around your yard to look for puddles, moist soil or unusually lush landscape. These can be signs of a leak somewhere. If you suspect you have a leak you can call your local plumber to do a water pressure test to determine if a leak is present.
Once you have determined your home is water tight you might want to think about other ways you can conserve water. Older toilets and showerheads can be replaced with water efficient models. You could install an instant water heater near your kitchen sink so you don't have to run the water while it heats up. To have instant hot water throughout the house a circulating system can be installed. Also, don't forget to winterize your outdoor spigots when temperatures dip below freezing to prevent pipes from leaking or bursting.