Frequently Asked Questions
We have tried to compile a variety or reliable sources to help address some frequently asked questions that relate to the water industry.
How much water is wasted if I have a leak?
- Leaks can account for 10 percent or more of the water bill.
A dripping faucet can waste 20 gallons or more of water a day.
A leaky toilet can waste 200 gallons a day.
How can I check for a silent toilet leak?
- Mix a few drops of food coloring or place a dye capsule or tablet into the water in the toilet tank.
Do not flush the toilet.
Wait for about 10 minutes.
If the dye or food coloring appears in the toilet bowl, the toilet has a silent leak.
How can I check for invisible or unnoticed leaks in other places besides my toilet?
- Turn off all water outlets and water-using appliances.
Read the dial on the water meter and record the reading.
Recheck the meter 15 to 20 minutes later.
If no water has been used and the reading has changed, a leak is occurring somewhere in the plumbing system.
What are some common causes of toilet leaks?
- Worn flappers
Improperly adjusted water levels
Worn valve seats
Leaking fill valves
How much water is used in my kitchen?
About 8% of in-home water use takes place in the kitchen.
How much water is used by my washing machine?
About 14% of in-home water use is by the washing machine.
How much water is used in the bathroom?
About 75% of in-home water use takes place in the bathroom.
What can I do to conserve water in the kitchen and while doing laundry?
- Purchase newer, water-saving models of washing machines and dishwashers. They should not be any more expensive than conventional models and they can reduce the water usage by 25-35%
Wash only full loads of clothes or dishes
How can I change my bathroom habits to conserve water?
- Take a shower insead of a bath
Install a low-flow showerhead -- it saves about one-half the amout of water currently being used. It's the single most effective conservation step that can be taken inside the home.
Don't over use water when brushing your teeth.
Consider installing a low-flow faucet aerator in your lavatory
How much water does my toilet require for each flush?
- Toilets prior to the 1980's
5-7 gallons per flush
1980's to early 1990's
3.5 gallons per flush
1992 in Texas (1994 nationally)
A law required that new toilets use 1.6 gallons or less of water per flush
I have an older toilet. Can I still conserve water?
In the older models, you can conserve water by installing a displacement device such as a toilet dam, plastic bottle, or bag.
Do not use a brick. It can crumble and damage the fixture.
What are some other in-home conservation tips?
- Insulate hot water pipes where possible. Pipe insulation is inexpensive and easy to install.
Be sure the water heater thermostat is not set too high. Setting higher than 125 °F wastes energy. However, if you have a dishwasher, 140 °F is required to clean dishes effectively.
Health, Smells, and Tastes
How does water affect our bodies?
- Water makes up about 80% of our blood
Supports our cells
Regulates body temperature
Help! Why does my water stink and taste funny?
The three most common reasons for bad tasting or smelling water are:
A funny taste can come from the chlorine that is added to the water to kill germs.
A rotton-egg odor in some groundwater (wells) is caused by a harmless, smelly chemical, called hydrogen sulfide, dissolved in the water.
As algae grows in surface water (lakes, reservoirs), they give off harmless, smelly chemicals that can cause unpleasant tastes in drinking water.
Are these smells and tastes harmful to my health?
Generally, the chemicals that cause a bad taste or smell in drinking water will not make you sick. Unfortunately, none of the harmfull chemicals that might be found in drinking water can be seen, tasted, or smelled. However, if you think you might have a problem, please contact our lab technicians at (254) 879-BACT.
Should I use bottled water instead of tap water?
Although common opinion may hold that bottled water is safer than tap water, this is a myth. Bottled water is not necessarily "safer" than tap water. Its quality depends on where it comes from and how it's produced.
Hard and Soft Water
What's the deal? Hard Water vs Soft Water
"Hardness" in drinking water is caused by two harmless minerals -- calcium and magnesium. It is called hardness because if calcium and magnesium are present in your water, making lather or suds for washing is "hard" to do. Laundry washed in hard water may not seem as clean.
Should I install a water softener in my home?
First, find out how hard your water is by calling the Upper Leon Lab at (254) 879-BACT. If the hardness of your water is more than 125 mg/L (milligrams per liter, sometimes called 125 parts per million (ppm) or 7.5 grains per gallon), you might consider a softener.
How do water softeners work?
Water softeners replace harmless hardness minerals (calcium and magnesium) with sodium. Because sodium is believed to cause high blood pressure in some people, you might want to connect the softener to the hot-water line only. This will prevent softener sodium from entering your drinking or cooking water.
What percent of the earth's surface is water?
More than 70% of the world is covered with water, but only 1% of this supply can be used for drinking. The rest is salty or trapped as polar ice.