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The USGS Water Science School

Water Questions & Answers

Water at Home


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Q&A home:


Water Questions & Answers
Does a little leak in my house really waste water?


It's not the little leak that wastes water—it is the little leak that keeps on leaking that wastes water. And the fact that the leak is so little means that maybe you ignore it. So, how can a little leak turn into a big waste? Many of our toilets have a constant leak—somewhere around 22 gallons per day. This translates into about 8,000 gallons per year of wasted water, water that could be saved. Or think of a leaky water line coming into your house. If it leaks 1 gallon of water every 10 minutes that means that you are losing (and paying for) 144 gallons per day, or 52,560 gallons per year.

There is no scientific definition of the volume of a faucet drip, but after measuring a number of kitchen and bathroom sink faucets, the volume seems to be between 1/5th and 1/3rd of a milliliter (mL). Drips from bathroom tubs come in a bit more, though, at about 1/2 mL. So, we are going to use 1/4 mL as the volume of a kitchen faucet drip. So, by these drip estimates:

  • One gallon: 15,140 drips
  • One liter: 4,000 drips

Looking at it this way, it seems like that drop of water down the drain is pretty insignificant. But, if you use our handy Drip Calculator, you can see that all those drops flowing in "real time" can really add up to a flood.

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Page Last Modified: Monday, 17-Mar-2014 11:03:31 EDT