ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) -- Seemingly minor leaks in and around your home can really add up. Before you start investigating, Consumer Reports says, first check your water meter.

"It will have numerical reading on the top. Check that and then come back in about two hours. During that time make sure nobody in the house actually uses any water and when you go and see it again and the number has gone up , it means you've got a leak somewhere in the house," explained Paul Hope, Consumer Reports Home Editor.

Most leaks are often easy and inexpensive to fix. The tricky part can be finding them.

"We're going to start in the bathroom because it accounts for more than half of all the water used in your home. The first fixture to check out is the toilet," he added.

To check for leaks you might not see, add a drop of food coloring to the tank, then wait 15 minutes. If food coloring ends up in the toilet bowl you have a leak and you'll need to replace the flapper or valve seal. Consider replacing toilets older than 25 years. The newer models CR has looked at use as little as 1.28 gallons per flush.

For a leaky shower head use pipe tape or teflon tape to secure a tight connection between the shower head and the pipe. Check any faucets, too. You can usually just replace the washer or gasket.

"You don't have to get rid of the entire thing. You also want to make sure to look under the vanity for any leaks you may not see."

Check your kitchen faucet, too. And finally, be on the lookout for leaks behind your walls. Mold or moisture on your walls, ceilings, floors may indicate a leaking pipe. In that case, it's best to call a plumber.

Don't forget to check for leads outside your home. If the garden hose leaks where it connects to the spigot, try replacing the washer for a tighter connection.

Copyright 2019 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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