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Every Drop Counts: How A Small Faucet Leak Can Lead To A Big Loss In Water

SALT LAKE CITY — All week, KSL has been exploring simple ways to save water that go beyond how Utahns water their lawns because when 90% of the state is in extreme drought, every drop counts. If the drips from a leaky faucet keep you awake at night, wait until you see the math on how much water those drops waste.

You are home alone late at night. All you hear is a steady drip, coming ominously from a bathroom sink: Drip drop, drip drop. OK — that is an old horror film trope and a leaky faucet probably will not lead to your untimely demise. But it can lead to significant water loss.

In its drip calculator, the U.S. Geological Survey measures one gallon as 15,140 drips.

So, a small drip of once every 10 seconds will grow to one full gallon of wasted water by the end of the day. A full year of dripping brings the water loss up to 347.2 gallons! But what if your leaky faucet is dripping faster – say, a drop every two seconds? At that rate, 2.9 gallons of water will go wasted by the end of the day. For the year, the total goes up to 1,041.5 gallons. If the drip is humming along at a drip every second, then the water waste climbs to 5.7 gallons a day, or 2,083 by the end of one year of drip-dropping.

If that is not frightening enough, if you have more than one leaky tap in the house: those numbers will be much higher.

In fact, the Environment Protection Agency estimates 10% of homes have leaks wasting 90 gallons or more per day.

The U.S. Census Bureau pegs the number of homes in Utah at 1,133,521. So, if 10% of Utah homes leak more than 90 gallons of water a day, that adds up to over 10.2 million gallons of water lost in Utah, daily.

When it comes to faucets, drips are often caused by an old, worn-out washer or gasket or a corroded valve seat. Hardware stores sell faucet repair kits that include those parts for as little as $15 or $20.

Whether you fix the faucet’s dripping or hire a plumber: Ignoring a small leak can have big consequences for water when every drop counts.

Closely related to the leaky faucet is the always running toilet. It can add up to thousands of lost gallons every month. That typically happens when the flapper gets old and worn out – usually, a relatively quick and easy fix.


If you have a simple idea that can help us save water, let us know. Call 385-707-6153 or email matt@ksl.com.

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