Early detection of a leak can minimize water loss at the property. If you suspect that there may be a leak somewhere in your plumbing, try these easy steps to identify that a leak exists.

Common Leak and Water Loss Locations | Use Your Meter To Check For Leaks
Check Toilets for Leaks | Suggestions for Saving Water

Common Leak and Water Loss Locations

Some common sites where you might be losing water are:

  • From a leaking toilet. See below for helpful tips on identifying a toilet leak.
  • Dripping faucets. You may be able to repair a dripping faucet by replacing worn parts.
  • Outside irrigation. Check your yard for soggy spots or broken sprinkler heads. You should also use your water meter to keep track of how much your irrigation system typically uses during a 30 minute period (check your meter before and after a 30 minute session). If you think you have a problem, you can compare how much your system is using to see if use has gone up. This could indicate an underground leak or a faulty sprinkler head.
  • Swimming pools and outdoor fountains. You should also check for leaks in your swimming pool or fountain system. You should also consider using a cover to prevent evaporation, which can really add to your bill.
  • Faulty plumbing. You may not see these leaks right away, but using your meter to check for leaks can help you determine if this might be a problem for you.

Use Your Meter To Check For Leaks

A water meter that measures in cubic feet

A water meter that measures in cubic feet

If there appears to be no obvious leaks inside your home, you may want to use your meter to check for leaks.

  1. Turn off all water inside your home. The test needs to be performed when all faucets are off and there is no automatic water equipment in use (irrigation controls, clothes washers, dishwashers etc.).
  2. Record the reading at the water meter and wait 15 minutes. Be certain that no one in your home turns on the water during this time.
  3. Record the meter reading again. If the meter has recorded water during the test, it might be due to a leak. Verify that the water use is not due to small appliances such as ice makers or water heaters.

Check Toilets For Leaks

One of the most common causes of leaks is from leaking toilets. A faulty flapper can really add to your water bill, and replacing it is often an inexpensive fix. If you have had a leaking toilet which lead to a high water bill and you can demonstrate you have fixed it, you may qualify for a Plumbing Adjustment.

  1. Add a few drops of food coloring to the water in the tank (See Figure A to the right). (Be cautious of the type food coloring used. Some may stain the bowl of your toilet)
  2. Do not flush.
  3. Wait one (1) hour to see if the colored water appears in the toilet bowl (See Figure B to the right). If it does, there is a leak.
  4. Repairing the leak is normally inexpensive and easy to do. Check with your local hardware store.

BEWARE: If you have to shake the handle to stop a running toilet, you may be losing water. There may be occasions where the toilet runs for greater periods of time than others. This type of problem will result in water loss.


To check for a leaking toilet, add food coloring to the tank (A), wait an hour, then check to see if any dye has leaked into the bowl (B)

To check for a leaking toilet, add food coloring to the tank (A), wait an hour, then check to see if any dye has leaked into the bowl (B)

Suggestions for Saving Water

  1. Take a shower for 5 minutes or less.
  2. Turn water off while brushing your teeth.
  3. Carefully check all faucets after using them, ensuring they are turned off.
  4. Monitor readings when lawn watering (take before and after readings of your meter)


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