Written by Charlotte Shaff and featured on AzFamily.com on July 29, 2020.

The average household wastes 10,000 gallons of water every year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. That’s a lot of water — and a lot of money — right down the drain. But there are simple ways to determine if you have a problem in your pipes, according to Mike Donley of Donley A/C and Plumbing. While some leaks like dripping faucets or hissing toilets are obvious, others may go unnoticed. “The irrigation systems here in Arizona are often our biggest leaking problem,” Donley said. “we don’t even know it’s happening, but we’re losing water every day.”

How to locate a leak

To determine if you have a leak, Donley says you should shut off all the water in your house, and then watch your water meter. If it’s moving, you know you’re losing water somewhere.

Check the toilet

Toilets are another easy place to check for leaks. Put a few drops of food coloring in the tank and wait about 10 minutes. If the water changes color in the toilet bowl, Donley says you need to clean or replace your flapper. (Make sure you remember to flush so the food coloring does not stain your toilet).

“You’re just going to pop it off the flush valve and pop it back on,” Donley said. “Whenever you’re taking something apart, take a picture of it so you can go back to it and look at it and save yourself a plumbing call.”

Flappers typically need to be replaced every two to three years, according to Donley.

Check your water bill

Your water bill will also tell you if you have a leak. The EPA says if a family of four is using more than 12,000 gallons of water per month in cooler months, there is most likely a leak that should be fixed. According to the agency, fixing leaks could save you 10% on your water bill.