The subtle drip of a leaky faucet can often go undetected, but once noticed the sound can become extremely irritating. Many environmentally conscious homeowners understand that leaky faucets and running toilets equate to unnecessary waste of valuable clean water in addition to inflating the home’s water bill. It may surprise some just how much money is being poured down the drain when these leaks and runs go unattended for too long. Additionally, unattended leaks can lead to a host of other problems in the home.

Starting with potential environmental impact, according to the EPA, the average household’s leaks, including drips from faucets, showers, other pipes and running toilets, accounts for 10,000 gallons of water wasted each year, equating to 1 trillion gallons wasted annually nationwide. In fact, 10% of all homes have the greatest negative impact, each home responsible for wasting more than 90 gallons of water daily.

The impact of leaks and water waste is usually more keenly felt when paying excessive water bills, as most homeowners give little thought to excess water down the drain. The reality is one leaky faucet can add nearly 10% to the annual water bill. Consider the statistics: a leaky faucet dripping at the rate of one drip per second wastes 3,000 gallons per year; a showerhead leaking 10 drips per minute wastes 500 gallons per year; running toilets waste about 4 times more water than a simple faucet leak. In fact, a running toilet can waste a gallon of water in 30 seconds.

A typical luxury custom built home may have several faucets, showers and toilets, many seldom checked, and potentially resulting in several thousands of gallons of water wasted annually. Additionally, irrigation systems should be checked each spring, as damage from freezing could easily cause small cracks and leaks, which could go undetected and lead to several thousands of wasted gallons of water monthly.

In addition to environmental impact and expensive water bills, leaky faucets will only worsen in a short amount of time, the drip quickening, thus wasting progressively more water. Leaks left unattended too long cause lasting damage to faucets, sinks, tubs and tile, can help deteriorate grout and caulking and can put added stress on plumbing.

The good news is that leaky faucets, showers and running toilets are easy to detect and just as easy to fix. For the most part, fixture replacement parts are low-cost and easily installed without professional help. Leaky faucets can be fixed by checking faucet washers and gaskets for wear. A toilet leak can be detected (in absence of the audible running sound) using food dye: place a drop of food dye in the toilet tank, and if color shows up in the bowl within 10 minutes without flushing, a leak exists. The culprit is often a faulty flapper or floater; however, older toilets in particular are apt to have a more serious problem.

Lastly, if renovating an older home into an updated dream home, consider retrofitting the home with new high-efficiency fixtures, toilets and appliances. It’s a practical approach to having a luxury custom home that runs more efficiently, with less maintenance and environmental impact.