Exclusive Sidebar: Fixing School Washroom Leaks

Some water-saving strategies are obvious, but unless facility managers and maintenance workers are vigilant about monitoring the condition of fixtures and equipment in school washrooms, a lot of water can disappear down the drain.

The California Energy Commission’s Energy Quest website notes that when a faucet is leaking enough water to fill a soda bottle every half hour, that amounts to 2,192 gallons of waste a year. A leaky toilet can waste more than 10,000 gallons a year.

Some schools encourage students to form "leak patrols" that periodically check washroom plumbing and fixtures for leaks and report them to the maintenance staff.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Federal Energy Management Program sets forth several best-management practices for making sure that toilets and urinals are using water efficiently: Managers should make sure that equipment is checked for leaks every six months; they should establish a user-friendly way for having leaks reported and repaired; cleaning and custodial workers should be encouraged to report problems; flush valves and fill valves in tank-type toilets should be replaced periodically; other worn parts should be replaced to ensure that water flow levels still meet specifications; and automatic sensors should be maintained and adjusted to make sure they are working properly.

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