Drip. Drip. Drip. We’ve all heard it, and generally, try to ignore it. But have you ever thought of how much water is literally going to waste and how much that could be costing you? Generally it is a fairly easy and affordable repair, whether it is a flapper or a washer. Being aware and doing something about it as soon as you can will always be better than just putting it off for another day, because the problem with drips is they generally worsen over time. Don’t compound the problem by waiting.
That Drip. Drip. Drip. At one per second adds up to about 3,000 gallons a year. The average leaking toilet is 200 gallons a day or 6,000 gallons a month. The combination of the two would fill nearly 4 average residential size pools at 19,000 gallons each in one year’s time. On average a family household of 4 could go through 9,000 to 12,000 gallons or 12 to 16 units a month with just the normal usage.
|Drips Per Minute||Gallons Per Month||Gallons Per Year|
What is that extra water loss costing you, you might ask? Well that depends on where you live. Also keep in mind this is not based on if you are on a well but a city utility. But if you figure on each unit (the measurement that most utilities will bill you on, 1 cubic ft. = 7.48 gallons, and 1 unit = 100 cubic ft. or 748 gal.), you will more than likely be between $3-4 per unit. Therefore, if you have a toilet leak that is roughly 6,000 gallons/8 units a month, that could cost you from $24-32 a month. And to make things worse, usually that bill comes quarterly in which you would have compounded 3 months of accumulated water loss, and that bill quickly multiplies to $72-96. Not to mention the fact you will still need to take time to repair the leak and/ or pay someone else too. Did I mention, more than likely all you needed was a $3-15 flapper? Drip. Drip. CHA-CHING…
Pro Tip: Drips can become leaks, leaks can become streams, and streams can become floods.
With that being said, here are some ways to stay on top of leaks and help identify them as they are happening or before it’s a major problem.
In addition, to check for leaks in your home, you first need to determine whether you’re wasting water, and then identify the source of the leak. Here are some tips for finding leaks: https://www.epa.gov/watersense/fix-leak-week
Have you ever tried eating pudding out of the packet with a spoon or a straw, and then get frustrated because you realize that you cannot have it all? Of course you have. Everyone faces this dilemma at least once in their lifetime, whether it be pudding, ice-cream, baked beans, or peanut butter etc. The spoon is a great tool to get the majority of the food to your mouth, but not necessarily the best tool to thoroughly clean the bowl, cup or dish, not to mention the access can also limit your thoroughness. The last part of the process involves water, a cleaning agent (dish soap) and a brush or a sponge that can adapt to different contours. After that, only then is the dish and/or container restored to its original state and ready to accept another serving.
Just like the example above, it is your DWV (Drainage, Waste, and Vent) System. It is not an if, it is a when will my DWV system need to be opened/cleaned and how? It may be years of accumulated buildup, roots, sand, abuse, grease, etc. The good news is, there are several ways to go about this. Let’s review the options, and get a good understanding of the equipment and how it works.
Several things to think/ask about before approaching each drain problem are
Once some of those questions are answered, a professional can make a more educated analysis of the situation and prescribe the appropriate equipment to effectively open and clean the drain if necessary. That having been said, the best analysis is a camera inspection. It gives fact vs speculation, which is always the best approach. The goal should always be to restore the drain back to its original clean new install state. So, to open or to clean, I say both if that is what the line requires to restore it to its original state.
It is best practice to verify the cleaning with a follow up camera inspection. Without it you can only speculate on the condition and performance of the drain.
Drain back-ups happen. It’s never ideal. But we live in a fallen world, and that’s the reality of it. First, confirm that all water usage stops, to try and avoid any further damage. (Note: sometimes this is out of your control and depends on where the blockage is in the Drainage Waste and Vent system, such as in the city or the apartment below. You may have no control other than knocking on doors and making phone calls). Secondly, confirm there are not any electrical receptacles in the area that could be submerged and/or also confirm breakers aren’t blown in the breaker box (if in a dry area, away from the backup). If breakers are tripped, wait until the plumbing emergency is addressed, before flipping back on. Thirdly, treat back-ups with respect. Backups can carry many nasty things such as bloodborne pathogens, harmful chemicals, and disease.
After isolating the issue, here are some helpful questions and steps you can take to determine the severity of the problem at hand.
Note: These are ideas of steps that can be taken and most certainly used as a professional. However, the writer of this article is not responsible for any unfortunate outcomes. Always use common sense.
Note: Each blockage has its degree of difficulty, and a drain can be opened in numerous ways. In the following post, I will give the details on how this can be accomplished, but more importantly on how to properly clean a drain, not just open it temporarily.
Don’t be deceived. Just because the back-up went down, it does not mean your problem is fixed. You very well could still have a lurking drain problem.