Customers of the National Water Commission (NWC) who may receive unusually high water bills, are being advised to check for leaks in their internal plumbing system as well as their outdoor piping.
This is the strong suggestion of President of the NWC, Mark Barnett who pointed out that 90 per cent of customers who complain of high bills for one month or another, normally have leaks on their premises.
“Often times, my customers tend to think (at) first…that there is something wrong with the meter and invariably, that is not the case. (They will) complain about the meter and ignore checking their onsite plumbing infrastructure,” he said during a digital press conference on (Oct. 29).
He is encouraging customers to check their plumbing network regularly “because not all leaks are going to be visible and in some instances …you (may) ignore these dripping pipes, you ignore the slow leaking toilets, you ignore these small things – these small things add up.”
“A lesson to learn – the longer the leak remains unattended, the worse it becomes. Therefore, I am encouraging everyone to pay keen attention to these situations because NWC has to look within its own business model and make a decision as to whether it is something that we can continue to give concession on,” he warned.
According to statistics from the NWC, a leak of just one drop per second, wastes 2,400 gallons per year. Most leaks are easy to repair with some basic knowledge on plumbing and a few simple tools.
The agency recommends that persons especially check their toilets for leaks. It notes that the rubber bung (also called the plunger ball) in the toilet tank is sometimes the source of undetected leaks, as it wears with age. A leaky toilet can waste as much as 200 gallons of water per day.
To check for toilet tank leaks, it is recommended that persons put a little food colouring into the tank and leave it for 10 to 15 minutes without flushing. If colouring appears in the toilet bowl, clean the bung and valve seat into which the bung fits and try the food colouring test again. If the leak persists, replace the bung and valve seat. If the colour appears in the bowl without flushing, there is a leak that should be repaired immediately.
To conserve on water, it is suggested that customers purchase water-conserving toilets or place a one quart plastic bottle in large, older toilet tank away from movable parts. Persons may also regulate the water level by adjusting the float.
Additionally, persons can limit the time the water is left running when taking a shower, as well as install showerheads or flow restrictors. They will cut the flow of water to about three gallons per minute. A typical shower uses five to 10 gallons of water per minute and most of the water is not utilised.
Other water conservation tips include not leaving the water running while washing dishes; saving and re-using the water from washing dishes and doing laundry (grey water) for watering plants, instead of fresh water; and washing vehicles with a bucket of water and a rag, and not a running hose.
The NWC also outlines the steps to take in detecting whether there are leaks in yard piping or plumbing fixtures in the house overall. First, shut off all plumbing fixtures. Look at the water meter, read the numbers and write them down, then record them again in another few hours.
If the second number is larger, the difference in the two numbers will increase only if water is going through the meter. There is no defect that will cause an increase in number for any other reason.
Many faucet leaks are caused by worn washers. To stop a faucet leak, turn off the lock-off or supply line, screw off the pipe cock and replace the washer, taking care to insert the right size. To repair other leaks, call in a competent plumber as soon as the leaks are detected.