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Protecting My Plumbing


moisture is money         60 drops per minute equates to 192 gallons each
         month - almost 5 loads of laundry!

Use your senses to save you cents:

iseeLook - Do you see any dripping faucets? 
Check all of your taps, including kitchen, laundry, bath, and even outside spigots.

ListenListen - Does your toilet make a noise or hiss when no one is using it? 
Identify toilet leaks by placing a few drops of food coloring into the tank, wait 10-15 minutes; if you see coloring in the bowl, there is a leak.

touchFeel - Can you feel moisture around any pipes under sinks? 
Some leaks can be stopped by simply tightening fittings.

Finding and Fixing Water Leaks at Home 

Check for Toilet Leaks
(Home Water Use Audit)

toilet illustration 

Listen to the toilet tanks for a small hissing sound. That could indicate the flapper valve is passing water.

Check the toilet tank or the proper water level. There is a level mark in the tank which provides the optimal flushing without wasting water. If the water level is too high, the excess water will run through the overflow tube in the tank into the toilet bowl continuously.


DYE TEST....Place a few drops of food coloring in the toilet tank.


After 10 minutes, check the water in the bowl for color.
If you see color in the bowl, you have a leak.



Checking for Faucet Leaks

  1. Turn off the faucet completely and place a glass under the faucet.

  2. Check glass in 15 min., 1 cup = 300 gallons a month.

  3. Check faucet for aerators by placing finger against water spout.

  4. If you feel a screen, unscrew the aerator for cleaning or replacing.


Checking for Landscape Leaks
  1. Check for leaks around the hose and sprinkler connection.

  2. Look for standing water on the surface near irrigation system spray heads.

  3. If you see areas of the lawn that are brighter green than others, you may have a leak.

  4. Learn how to read water meter to see if it is running.




How much water does a toilet or shower really use?
An average residential home in Mecklenburg County uses 7 Ccfs (5,236 gallons) a month.
Average person uses 80-100 gallons of water a day, mostly in the bathroom.
Two people typically use 4,480-5,600 gallons a month.


Flush the toilet 

  • 3.5 - 7 gallons per flush. 6 flushes a day = up to 1,176 gallons a month
  • 1.6  gallons with a water saving toilet . = up to 268 gallons a month

10-minute shower

  • 3.0 gallons a minute 3 showers a day = up to 2,520 gallons a month
  • 1.2 gallons with a low-flow showerhead = up to 1,008 gallons a month
  • Tub bath minimal water level = 10 to 15 gallons

Washing Machine - 40.9 gallons per load 6 loads of in a month = 245.4 gallons a month
Dishwasher - 9.3 - 20 gallons per load 6 loads in a month = 55.8 -120 gallons a month
Kitchen Faucet - 10.9 gallons a day = 327 gallons a month

Measuring Flow Rates at Home

     *  Hold a plastic sandwich bag tightly around your showerhead or faucet.

     *  Turn water on completely for 10 seconds.

     *  Pour water from the bag into a measuring cup.

     *  Multiply the measured amount by six to get the flow rate-per-minute.


How do you know the age and flush volume of your toilet?
If your residence was built after 1992, then the toilet probably uses 1.6 gallons per
flush, as required by code. Toilets built from 1980 – 1992 typically use 3.5 gallons per flush. Prior to 1980, toilets were designed to use five to seven gallons per flush. There are two places on your toilet to check for age or flush volume:

The date the toilet was made should be stamped on the inside of the tank lid.
The gallons per flush rate is stamped on the bowl rim.

Gallons Per Flush
     Before 1980      5 to 7 Gallons
     1980 – 1992      3.5
     Since 1992        1.6






 What Should I Put Down the Disposal?

What Should I Put Down the Disposal? 

– small amounts of everyday small scraps and pitless fruit

NO– bones, peels, animal fats, left-over grease, olive oil, vegetable oil, motor oil, eggshells, coffee grounds, noodles, rice, pasta, flour, fruit pits, corn husks, celery, potato skins (peels), avocado skins, artichoke leaves, shrimp shells, or asparagus or other fibrous foods.   Learn more.

Sink disposals, if used like trashcans, will clog over time and cost a lot to repair. Please put leftover food in trash. Review your disposal manual for more information.


HALLOWEEN - Carving a pumpkin into a happy or scary jack-o-lantern? Compost or trash the sticky ‘pumpkin guts.’ Pouring them in the disposal can clog plumbing and lead to a ghoulish mess.


Things that should NEVER go down the drain or be flushed down a toilet:

  • Prescription drugs
  • Paper products other than toilet paper (paper towels, diapers, mail)
  • Toys
  • Leftover cleaning supplies





Prevent Frozen Pipes 




BBRRRR! Bundle up - and protect your water pipes from extreme cold
Taking steps now can help prevent burst water pipes and costly repairs, especially when temperatures dip well below freezing for extended periods of time.

  • Insulate pipes in unheated parts of your home and save on energy costs by insulating your water heater. Insulation materials are available at local hardware stores.
  • Seal any openings and air leaks in crawl space or basement. Use cardboard, plastic or newspaper to seal air vents if necessary.
  • Open doors on cabinets below sinks to allow warmer room air to circulate around plumbing at night.
  • Be sure garden hoses are disconnected from outdoor spigots.
  • Unplug automatic lawn sprinkler systems. Irrigation line breaks and sprinklers spraying onto sidewalks and roadways will quickly lead to serious public safety hazards and expensive repairs. If you must irrigate your lawn this time of year, do so during daylight hours when temperatures are well above freezing.
  • Locate the master water shut-off valve in your home now in case you experience a burst pipe, and need to cut off your water in a hurry.
  • Make sure the water meter box in your yard remains properly in place to keep cold air from freezing water inside the meter. If for any reason your water meter cover is damaged or missing, contact Charlotte Water by dialing 311.

If private pipes freeze but there are no visible leaks detected or obvious burst pipe:

  • Don't panic.
  • Open faucets just slightly (to give melting ice/steam a place to go without added stress on pipe) and know where to turn off the water via 'master valve' in case a thawing pipe bursts or begins to leak.
  • Keeping your house warm, opening indoor cabinets to expose any plumbing to warmer air, and wrapping frozen spots with towels soaked in hot water can help with the thawing process.
  • The City does NOT recommend using ANY electrical appliances to heat pipes directly; doing so presents a private plumbing damage risk or the possibility of electrocution/fire/burn hazards.
  • Be advised some private plumbing companies may not make home service calls simply to thaw frozen pipes. Doing so means added (and possibly unnecessary) expense to the customer and extra workload for the plumber during a period of high service call volumes due to actual burst pipe emergencies.


If a frozen private plumbing pipe is already leaking or suddenly bursts:

  • Shut off the closest available master water valve on your private plumbing.
  • Call a professionally licensed plumber for assistance.
  • If you live in an apartment complex and/or don't have control over the building's water supply, be sure to contact your landlord or building manager ASAP.


If your private plumbing does not include a master water valve and you need your water service line shut off at the City meter connection due to a leaking or broken water line, the customer account holder will need to call CharMeck 311 and specifically request an emergency shut-off. Charlotte Water staff will respond as soon as they can. Once the private plumbing repair has been made, call 311 to request/confirm restoration of water service from the meter.

Protect Your Irrigation System & Backflow Device (if you have one)
Codes require certain types of commercial and residential water customers - those with irrigation systems, for example - to install and maintain backflow prevention assemblies at their connection. It’s important to protect your equipment from cold weather damage that can cause system leaks and high water bills.

Prepare your backflow device for winter (best completed by December):
  • The best way to prevent freezing on an irrigation backflow connection is to drain the assembly of all water for the winter. Turn off your irrigation system at the shut-off valve and drain system, open test cocks and Shut-off valves on the assembly to discharge any water. Leave valves open 1/8 of a turn! Fully Open or Fully Closed will trap water behind the ball in the valve and that will leave the valve susceptible to freezing and damage to the valve.
  • Whether your device/connection remains in use for the winter, be sure the backflow cover fits securely to the ground to prevent air infiltration. Check your cover for any cracks, holes, splits, etc.
  • Wrap old blankets or beach towels around the assembly for temporary protection during the peak of the cold temperatures.