Consumer Reports: Hidden home leaks could be costing you cash

Looking to save water? Lifestyle changes like taking shorter showers, running full loads in your washing machine and dishwasher can help. But Consumer Reports says you might have leaks in and around your home that you don't even know about.

Seemingly minor leaks in and around your home can really add up, but before you even start investigating, Consumer Reports says, check your water meter.

"It will have a numerical reading on the top. Check that and then come back in about two hours. During that time make sure nobody in the house actually uses any water and when you go and see it again and the number has gone up it means you've got a leak somewhere in the house," said Paul Hope, Consumer Reports Home Editor.

Most leaks are easy and inexpensive to fix. The tricky part can be finding them.

"We're going to start in the bathroom because it accounts for more than half of all the water used in your home. The first fixture to check out is the toilet," said Hope.

To check for leaks you might not see, add a drop of food coloring to the tank. Wait fifteen minutes. If food coloring ends up in the toilet bowl you have a leak and you'll need to replace the flapper or valve seal.

Consider replacing toilets older than 25 years. Newer models use as little as 1.28 gallons per flush.

For a leaky showerhead, use pipe tape or teflon tape to secure a tight connection between the showerhead and the pipe. Check any faucets, too. You can usually just replace the washer or gasket.

"You don't have to get rid of the entire thing. You also want to make sure to look under the vanity for any leaks you may not see," said Hope.

Also check your kitchen faucet and be on the lookout for leaks behind your walls. Mold or moisture on your walls, ceilings, floors may indicate a leaking pipe. In that case - it's best to call a plumber.

And don't forget to check for leaks outside your home. Look at your garden hose and if you have in-ground irrigation, check that, too.
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