Leaky Faucets - annoying and wasteful
I don't consider leaky faucets to be a big waste of water, but they can be if they're large enough and left uncorrected long enough. Usually, when there is a leak in a plumbing fixture, it's aggravating enough for someone to take action before it becomes an expense of any appreciable size.
Except if you have renters, then you need to keep your eyes peeled. Nothing against renters, but I've only known horror stories about water leaks to come from my days as a renter. Let me relate a couple of stories so you get the picture.
The first tale of leaky faucets is about a young man in the military who lived in the apartment next door to me in Cheyenne. I jokingly used to call him "commander" and saluted him on occasions when I met him in the hallway. He wasn't a commander, he was more like a goofball because he allowed a healthy leak in his bathtub faucet to go unreported. The landlord finally had to do a unit-to-unit inspection to determine the source of the leak. It was costing the landlord an additional $100 a month for this guy's lack of care about wasted water. That's what you get when "all utilities" are included in the rent.
According to the landlord's representative, there was a decent flow coming out of the spigot, not simply a leak. Fortunately, this individual doesn't represent the kind of mission orientation I've come to expect from our military men and women. Most are much more deserving of (and have earned) our respect and gratitude.
The next story is about a couple with exceptionally poor decision-making skills who dribbled water into their bathroom basin, thinking that a constant flow of water (that someone else was paying for) would somehow clear the slow drain. Again, since they weren't paying for the water, they were more than happy to waste it in an attempt to solve a problem that could have been solved with a phone call to the landlord or a little do-it-yourself plumbing.
Anyway, except for examples like the above, small drips from leaky faucets aren't really a big waste of water, but they should be fixed nonetheless. It's only when you're experiencing a dribble or a tiny stream that you're going to see something show up on your water bill. I liken a small leak at a faucet to a nightlight that burns away in the dark while no one is using it. It's more a mindset against unnecessary wasted resources than it is a cause for concern like dollar bills blowing away in the wind.
For the self-reliant homeowner, leaky faucets can usually be fixed with a simple rubber seat, an O-ring, or tightening down on the packing nut. If you've never done something like this before, it's best to talk to someone who has done this type of work before you start wrenching away. An acquaintance of mine once charged forth with a plumbing project and was quite surprised when the valve stem shot out of the faucet and water sprayed uncontrollably from the faucet up onto the ceiling in the bathroom. Okay, so she now knows what those shutoff valves under the sink are all about. It's a good lesson learned, but flooding out the bathroom is a high price to pay for such information that otherwise comes cheap.
While I'm at it, I might mention that leaky faucets are a source of water waste, but they can cost more money in terms of damaged flooring, walls, tile and cabinetry than they ever will in terms of water wasted. That is, if they're allowed to leak at the stem which is covered by the handle or faceplate. Such "behind the scenes" leaking can be where you won't notice it for quite some time, and that can cost you plenty.
So, get to those leaky faucets and stop the annoying drip. It will help conserve water and save money. And, if you're lucky, leaky faucets caught in time could help save you plenty in home repair.
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