It may surprise you to hear household leaks can waste over 1 trillion gallons of water every year across the country. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that the average household wastes more than 10,000 gallons of water a year, while 10% of homes have leaks that allow at least 90 gallons a day to go down the drain unused.
Even more astounding is that the most common causes of leaks are easily correctable.
So what are the most common types of leaks found in households, how much water do they waste and how much can you save by fixing or replacing fixtures?
You’ll find the answers in the article below as well as some tips on how to detect water leaks in your house.
Average Household Leaks
1. The average household wastes more than 10,000 gallons of water through leaks.
This translates to the amount of water needed to wash 270 loads of laundry. Nationwide, household leaks account for 1 trillion gallons of water wasted, equal to the yearly water usage of over 11 million homes in the United States.
How Many Homes in the US Waste Water Due to Bad Plumbing
2. 5-10% of homes have leaks that waste at least 90 gallons of water daily.
The EPA reports that 5 to 10% of homes have easy-to-fix leaks that allow 90 gallons of water to escape down the drain a day. What’s more, 8.1% of US homes experience water damage as a result of leaks inside the house. That’s 1 in 12 homes across the country that not only lose water but also waste money on expensive home repairs.
3. 2.1 trillion gallons of treated water are lost annually in the USA due to leaky infrastructure.
According to the American Water Works Association, 5.9 billion gallons of treated water is lost each day across the nation as a result of old and leaky pipes, faulty meters, unauthorized consumption, and broken water mains.
This accounts for 14 to 18% (one-sixth) of the country’s daily water usage, or enough to support 15 million households.
4. Fixing leaky infrastructure could save between 6.5 and 10 trillion gallons of water.
The American Water Works Association estimates that the cost of fixing crumpling, leaky pipes across the country will cost around $1 trillion, half of which will be used to replace the existing infrastructure and the other 50% to put in infrastructure for new water users.
How Much Can a Leak Add to Your Monthly Water Bill?
5. A gallon of water wasted through household leaks costs around $1 a month.
A typical leak of around 10 drips a minute wastes around one gallon of water a day or around 29 gallons a month and adds one dollar to your water bill, depending on where you live. This may not seem like a lot but drips quickly add up.
A fast drip of around 120 drips per minute wastes 330 gallons a month which translates to another $20 more to your monthly water bill or $200 and more a year.
On the other hand, a leaky toilet may cost an average of $150 per month.
Multiple leaks, including plumbing issues, may cost homeowners $100 a month or more in wasted water. For example, a small crack in the pipes can cost around $600/month.
6. Fixing household leaks can save homeowners around 10% on water bills.
Fixing leaks can help you save water and up to $100 a month in bills. Replacing old inefficient fixtures and appliances with WaterSense-labeled fixtures and ENERGY STAR-certified appliances can help homeowners save 20% of wasted water and deliver more than $380 a year in lower bills.
- Replacing an old faucet can save up to 700 gallons a year. The EPA reports that WaterSense-labeled faucets or aerators are 30% more efficient than standard faucets helping you save more than 1.9 gallons a day.
- Replacing a showerhead with WaterSense-labeled models may save the average household over 2,700 gallons of water annually. It can also lower water and electricity bills by $70.
- A homeowner can save 13,000 gallons of water, or around $130 in water costs annually just by replacing an older model with a new, more efficient toilet. What’s more adding new features to the existing system in the home, also known as retrofitting, can save the average household almost $2,400 in water and wastewater bills over the life of the toilet.
7. The average American family of four people pays $73 in monthly water bills.
Families that use 50% more than the average of 100 gallons a day tend to spend $115 a month on water bills, whereas households that use 50 gallons of water each month pay around $37 a month.
Water bills depend on location as well as usage. Costs can range from $20 a month in states like North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Vermont to $105 in West Virginia, Oregon ($88), and Alaska ($87).
How Much Water Does a Leaky Faucet Waste?
8. A leaky faucet might waste over 3,000 gallons of water a year.
One drip per second from a leaking faucet can waste 3,000+ gallons of water annually. To put it in perspective, this is the same amount of water you’d need to take more than 180 showers.
9. It costs an average of $210 to fix a leaky faucet.
This covers the cost of a plumber, who charges $45 to $200 per hour, plus parts. The cost can be lower or higher depending on how serious the issue is. If it is a simple fix you could also repair it yourself and save hundreds of dollars in plumbing services and wasted water.
How Much Water is Wasted by a Leaky Faucet in 1 day?
10. A typical drip of 10 drips per minute waste one gallon of water a day.
This translates to 29 gallons a month or around 348 gallons a year. The amount of water wasted depends on the flow of the leak and the number of leaky faucets in the home. For instance, two faucets leaking at a rate of 20 drips per minute can waste 1,388 gallons a year or 3.8 gallons a day, while three faucets dripping two drips per second can equal 34.2 gallons lost a day.
What Percentage of Household Water Use Is Due to Leaks?
11. Leaks account for 12% of household water use.
Where does your water go? A surprising 12% of your water usage is attributed to leaks, which is up to half of the water the average toilet uses.
Leaks use up more water than your dishwasher (1%) and running a bath (3%). For comparison, a washing machine accounts for 17% of average water use, while showers and faucets take up 19 and 20% of water use, respectively.
12. Leaving the water running while brushing teeth wastes 8 gallons of water a day.
Leaks and drips contribute the most to water wastage by households, but there are other daily practices that affect the amount of water wasted and your monthly bill. For example
- Leaving the water flowing while brushing your teeth wastes nearly 3000 gallons of water a year or 11,680 gallons for a family of four. With water costing around $0.00295 per gallon, you waste $34.46 monthly.
- Running the dishwasher while it is partially full wastes 320 gallons a year
- Leaving the water running for 5 minutes wastes 10 gallons of water
- A broken sprinkler head wastes 80 gallons a day or 2,400 gallons a month
Common Types of Leaks
13. A leaking toilet could waste up to 200 gallons of water a day.
Toilets are one of the most common causes of leaks in the home. A toilet that constantly leaks could waste around eight gallons of water an hour or 200 gallons a day. If left unnoticed, a running toilet could lead to water loss of 6,000 gallons a month or 72,000 a year.
14. A showerhead leaking at a rate of 10 drips a minute wastes more than 500 gallons of water annually.
This is the same as the amount of water one would use to wash 60 loads of dishes in the dishwasher.
15. An irrigation system can waste 6,300 gallons of water every month.
This considerable water waste can be caused by a leak in the irrigation system the size of a dime, i.e. a leak that is 1/32nd of an inch in diameter. Landscape irrigation and other types of residential outdoor water use account for almost 8 billion gallons of water used a day. In fact, outdoor water use takes up 30% of total household water usage or 60% in arid regions.
How to Detect Leaks
A leaky faucet or showerhead is easy enough to detect, but how to check for plumbing issues below the surface? Here are a few tips:
- If your water usage during colder months like January or February exceeded 12,000 gallons, you might have a serious leak on your hands.
- Place a dollop of food coloring in your toilet tank to check for leaks. If you see color in the toilet within 10 minutes without flushing, you most likely have a leaky toilet.
- Check the water meter when water is not being used. If there is a change in the meter in the last two hours, you probably are dealing with a leak.
Fascinating Facts and Stats
- The average household wastes more than 10,000 gallons of water through leaks
- 2.1 trillion gallons of treated water is lost annually in the USA due to leaky infrastructure.
- A typical drip of 10 drips per minute waste one gallon of water a day.
- A fast drip of around 120 drips per minute can add $200 to your monthly water bill.
- Fixing household leaks can save homeowners around 10% on water bills.
- Leaks account for 12% of household water use.
- A leaking toilet could waste up to 200 gallons of water a day.