Hi, this is Mark Brown with the Pulaski County extension service. Today I’m here with Val Henry, and we’re going to talk a little bit about Fix-A-Leak Week coming up in March 2012. [Mark Brown, Pulaski County, U of A Division of Agriculture Research and Extension University of Arkansas System.]
Val, if you would just tell us a little bit about what you do there at Central Arkansas Water.
[Val Henry, Central Arkansas Water.] Well Mark, I’m a customer relations specialist; actually do home inspections and help customers when we’re having a problem. During Fix-A-Leak Week, we are going to be giving away the shower heads and the rain gauges. [Val shows the shower and the rain guage.] Customers will have to come into the offices, either in North Little Rock or Little Rock, in the downtown offices to reach these.
[Mark] Val, there are some other things homeowners can do as well, as far as not only outside the house fixing leaks, but inside the house. What are some of the common problems homeowners can encounter?
[Val] There’s really just two things in a house that are automatic. That’s the toilets and the pressure-relieve valve on the hot water tank. We check those two items when we do a home visit.
[Mark] Today you’ve brought some; looks like you’ve brought some older parts of a toilet that may be causing problems. If you could just kind of show those and kind of point out what a homeowner might be looking for when examining.
[Val] OK; this is actually called a ball cock, or filler valve. [Val shows a filler valve and ball cock.] This you can see if broken, it has parts that are hanging loose. And what happens to these is they have a diaphragm in here, that once this diaphragm goes bad, even though the float level looks like it’s stopped, it’s not, and it’s running water 24/7. And what that does is it will eventually go into the overfill tube, which is in the center of the tank. And the other thing is the flapper, which is at the bottom. [Val shows a flapper.] This is what seals the water from going out, in and down through sewer system. As you can see, this one is very worn; the rubber is about to fall apart. These things actually steal water that you think that you are not using. In comparison, this is a brand-new one; you can see how easy that it is; it’s very porous and there’s no problem with it. And this is the new type filler valve. This does away with that arm. These just come up and shut off. Very easy to adjust; very easy. But that’s the number one thing.
[Mark] That’s a big difference from the new models to the old models.
[Val] Oh yes.
[Mark] You can see the new technology in them just by looking at them. How much water, kind of on average, would a toilet waste as far as gallons with having faulty equipment like this?
[Val] It depends on the size of the leak or what’s wrong. It can run a bill up as much as a $100 a month over what they normally pay. I have seen them even be worse than that, where a customer has more than maybe several leaks. Now if a customer wants to, they can check themselves to find out where the leak is. [Slide – Leak Test. Wait 5-10 minutes after the last flush cycle to perform the leak test. Remove the cover of your commode tank. Gently drop blue food coloring into the tank. Do not flush. Graphic shows blue food coloring being added to the commode tank.] Best way to do that is take the top tank off and put three or four drops of food coloring in there, wait 10 or 15 minutes and if any of that blue comes into the bowl in the bottom; that shows that the ball cock is not working properly, it’s running in the overfill valve; and this one, these when they get warped like this, the water runs around the edge and will run down in the bowl. And you’ll see it either coming out of the hole where everything flushes or down the sides of the commode. It will; you can see the blue streaks starting to form. If you’ve got those problems, it’s one of those two items that’s causing this to happen. [Slide – Wait 15-20 minutes. If the blue food coloring appears in the bowl you have a leak. (Don’t worry, the food coloring won’t stain the bowl. ]
[Mark] Another thing I see that you’ve brought with you today Val, is the actual meter that is out on the street, and that is a good indicator of where a homeowners can look and see if they have a leak or not. Can you kind of explain the meter a little bit?
[Val] Certainly. On each meter, or on most meters that are in our system, there is a small triangular, what we call the leak detector. [Val shows a water meter.] This shows any movement of water through this meter. Turn off everything in the house, make sure there is nothing or anybody comes in and turns on anything, and then go out and watch this. If this moves any, you’ve got a problem. And that shows; that’s the purpose of that. The rest of it is all, you know, for our purposes to read and what we bill from. These items that we’ve talked about today are things that steal water from you and that you’re not familiar with that are under cover. If anybody feels that they’ve got a problem, we’re certainly glad to help them. All they have to do is call our offices at 372-5161, ask to speak to customer service and one of our clerks will be glad to set up a visit.
[Mark] Val, thanks for coming in today. That’s great information that the homeowner can use to look for leaks, and they can actually fix in their own home. So remember, folks, that National Fix-A-Leak Week is March 12th through the 17th. It’s a national program sponsored by the EPA and the water-sense partners like Arkansas Water. Don’t forget to go by their locations in Little Rock and North Little Rock and pick up your free shower head or your rain gauge. [Slide – Fix-A-Leak Week – Inside Leaks March 12-17, 2012. Central Arkansas Water www.carkw.com. University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Research and Extension University of Arkansas System www.uaex.edu.]