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 bathroom 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's not scary enough, if you have more than one leaky faucet in your home: those numbers are 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.
For taps, dripping is usually caused by old, worn or corroded gaskets or seats. Hardware stores sell bathroom mixer faucet or kitchen sink sensor touch 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 leaking faucets are regular toilets. Thousands of gallons can be lost every month. This usually occurs when the baffle is aged and worn - usually relatively fast and easy to repair.