Lots of water is lost through leaky faucets and toilets that don’t run efficiently. According to the City of Saint Paul Regional Water Department, a bad flapper inside a toilet tank combined with a bad fill valve can run a homeowner an extra $307 a month. Got a bathtub that leaks? That’s another $75 a month.

On March 23, union plumbers from Local 34 in St. Paul, Local 15 in Minneapolis and Local 6 in Rochester took a Saturday off to volunteer their skills to help homeowners in need of their services. It was part of the 30th anniversary of Water’s Off, a community service program that helps homeowners in need. They provided plumbing repairs and inspections to senior, low-income and disabled homeowners around Minnesota.

The goal is not to just help others but to raise awareness about the importance of proper plumbing maintenance and repair, two things that help conserve water and save money on a homeowner’s utility bill.

Often when the plumbers enter a home, they’ll be presented with a list of what the homeowners think the problems are only to find there are other, potentially bigger problems to address. When you save people’s homes by preventing them from being damaged, says Local 34 Business Manager Dean Gale, you tend to get a lot of gratitude in return. “I’ve had people some cry in joy when you leave. Some want to bake you cakes. A lot of gratitude from the homeowners.”

Since the Water’s Off community service program started, union plumbers have donated more than 13,000 hours of skilled labor, with a value of $2,050,000.

“The plan is to keep this program going,” Gale said. “The guys get a sense of pride out of it and it’s great camaraderie.”