Finding water leaks can save you water, which means saving money on water and sewer bills. Follow these easy steps to determine if you have a leak in a domestic or a sprinkler irrigation system.
Step 1. Turn all water-using appliances off so that no water is being used. This means turning off all water inside and outside the house including showers, sinks, washing machines and any appliance that uses water. If you have a sprinkler irrigation system, turn off the controller and manually shut off the two valves at the double check valve assembly (DCVA) to isolate the irrigation system. (See photo.)
Step 2. Take the lid off the meter box and lift the protective cover. (Photo at right.)
|Water meter with red triangle leak indicator.
Watch the meter. Your meter will have a triangular red or silver and black round disc that is commonly called a “leak indicator.”
- If it is spinning, you have a leak. If there is no indicator and the actual meter dial hand is moving, water is running somewhere in your system and you have a leak – go to step 3.
- If the hand is not moving, note the position of the hand and wait 10 minutes. Check the meter again, if it has moved, you have a slow leak - go to step 3. If not, you do not have a leak.
Step. 3. Locate the main shut-off valve (see photo at left) to the house. This is usually located close to the meter box.
Step 4. Turn off the valve.
Step 5. Turn on a faucet inside the house to test.
- If water still flows from the faucet after several seconds, the shut off valve is not working.
- If no water flows through the faucet, the shut off valve is working. Return to the meter.
|Another type of water meter.
Step 6. Check if the meter’s leak indicators hand is moving.
- If the leak indicator or dial hand is still moving, water is flowing between the meter and the shut-off valve. That means you have a leak between the meter and the customer-side shut-off valve.
- If it is not moving, then you have a leak between the customer-side shut-off valve and possibly somewhere in the house. Check toilets, washing machines, faucets, etc., for any leak.
Step 7. To check a toilet for a leak : Flush the toilet and while the reservoir is still filling, add 2 or 3 drops of food coloring to the water in the reservoir.
Wait 15-30 minutes. If the water in the bowl changes colors, the flapper valve needs to be replaced.
|In leaky toilets, the flapper valve often needs to be replaced.
Get more tips to save water on our water conservation pages.
— Updated Dec. 29, 2005