Marana Water News: Searching for Unintended Water Use

It can be tough to find a leak in your home. Is it the water softener, water heater, toilets? There are many areas where leaks can occur. Below are some insights on where to check to find unintentional water use.


The flapper inside a toilet will wear out over time. These rubber mechanisms are what seals the water in the tank from leaking into the bowl. On average, a flapper that is not sealing properly can leak up to 200 gallons of water a day, so checking that these are functioning properly is typically a good start for looking for an increase in water use.

To check your flapper, flush the toilet and let the tank refill. Once it has refilled place a few drops of food coloring in the tank. Come back in about an hour and check the bowl. If any color is in the bowl, it is time to replace the flapper.

Water heaters –

Water heaters are a wonderful addition to our homes. Ensuring there is hot water to wash dishes and clothes, as well as those steamy showers are all provided by the water heater. In the desert we have different minerals in our water than in other places in the country. These minerals can build up in water heaters. If the water pressure or temperature drops, it might be time to check the tank. Water heater leaks are typically found were the water supply is connecting to the tank. Be sure that all connections are tightened properly and using the correct materials. Always be sure to turn off the power when working with anything connected to electricity.

Water softeners –

Not every home will have a water softener. Should you have one, there are a few places to check for a leak. The connection to the appliance for the water supply or the bypass valves should be inspected. Replaceable o-rings can wear out over time and cause a leak in the valve seal. Again, be sure to disconnect the softener from electricity when inspecting for leaks.

Evaporative (Swamp) coolers –

Since there is typically very little humidity in Arizona, evaporative/swamp coolers are installed on many homes. Starting in the 1940s, these units were used primarily to cool homes rather than expensive air conditioning. Now that AC has become increasingly energy-efficient and less expensive, swamp coolers are seeing a decline. Here is an article with a little more information on evaporative coolers in Arizona.

There are a few places that could be inspected for a potential leak. The copper line, or main water supply line, that carries water to the unit can leak at the connection point due to a worn out washer or scale build up. If there is water below the unit it could be due to a cracked reservoir tray or the drainage pipe is out of alignment. Check the pads are properly fitted, including the edges where scale can build up from hard water deposits. Finally, be sure the cooler does not overflow due to a faulty float.

Should you see an unexpected increase in your water bill, take a look around and see if any of these appliances might be the culprit. Again, be sure to turn off the power when working with these devices. A quick check of connections or valves could show where water might be leaking, and a quick dye test of the toilet can save quite a bit on a water bill. Please contact a professional plumber should you need to.

There are several services we offer to help find this water. We have water meter monitors available for check out at the office. These monitors can show the meter reading at any moment so customers can track water use during the month. We also provide water audits and water use reports should it become more difficult to find where the water might have come. Renting the monitors, water audits, and a first water report is all at no cost to the customer. Give the office a call if you would like help identifying any unintentional water use, (520) 382-2570.