Monday, July 27, 2009

Exorcising a money leak

We've got a ghost flusher. An older flapper valve on one of our toilets began leaking over the weekend, draining enough water to partly flush it every three or four hours.

It's an easy fix. The valves wear out every four or five years. We've repaired them often enough that I'm confident it won't turn out like scenes from a World War II U-boat movie. I've also learned to call in professionals when I think things might get tricky.

But is it worth it? EPA estimates that a leaky toilet can waste as much as 200 gallons of water a day. A quick peek at our latest water bill and some back-of-the-envelope calculations show we pay the water company about three-tenths of a cent per gallon. So the leak costs us about 60 cents a day.

New parts run $5.69 at the hardware store. Stopping the leak,we recoup that investment in about nine and half days. I haven't run a similar check yet on the new eco-friendly toilets that people are recommending. Some of those cost more than the first car I bought. In this economy, it's easier to keep the old stuff working longer

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