Detecting Water Leaks

Leaks are the silent water wasters inside and outside our homes.  A dripping faucet or constantly running toilet is fairly obvious, but hidden leaks - such as those in an irrigation system - could waste more than 100 gallons of water per day.

Catch leaks before they grow
Finding a leak is the process of elimination. Perform the following tests to find leaks at your home.

Make sure no water is being used inside or out.
Also shut off automatic pool filters, sink faucets, washers, and dishwashers.

Locate your water meter
About 90% of all area residential water meters are located in the front sidewalk.  The should be a white "S" on the road to mark the direction of your water meter (90% of residential water meters are located in the front of the house).  Follow the direction of the "S" to find the meter; if there is an arrow by the "S", it will point in the direction of the meter which is located behind or beside the home. Your meter will be in a box under a lid.

Check your water meter for movement
Look at the top of the meter.  You'll notice a red or white triangle or a red or white gear shape called a flow indicator.  (If you have a new Automatic Meter Reader (AMR), it will also have a flow indicator.)

It will move whenever water is passing through it.  If the flow indicator is moving, you may have a leak.

Check your toilets
Shut off one toilet at a time at the wall. In between each shutoff, go out to the water meter and check your flow indicator.  If the flow indicator is moving, that toilet is not the problem.  Something else is causing a leak.  If the flow indicator stopped moving, that means that toilet is the culprit.

Check your sprinkler system
Shut off the anti-siphon valve that serves your sprinkler system.  Check the flow indicator at the water meter.  If the flow indicator stopped moving, the sprinkler system is the problem.

Check your water softener
Most softeners have a bypass lever.  Turn the lever to allow water to bypass the softener.  Check the flow indicator at the meter.  If the indicator is no longer moving, you have isolated the leak to your softener.  (You can also check leaking swamp coolers, water-cooled air conditioners, ice machines, and reverse osmosis units by turning the bypass lever on each and checking the meter.)

Check your main service line
If you still haven't found the problem, try checking the main service line:

Find the water shutoff valve to your home.  It will be either in your front yard, in your garage, or near your water softener. It may be inside or outside your water meter box.  Diagram for Valves
Shut off this valve, which will turn off all water to your home.  Turn on a faucet to make sure there is no water flowing inside the home, then check the meter.  If it's still moving, the leak is most likely between the shutoff valve and the water meter.

If you've found your leak, you may be able to fix it yourself.  Repairs to toilets and faucets can be fairly simple, while other leaks may need a professional plumber.  Don't get in over your head.  If you're not sure that you can fix it, call a professional.

If you have questions about detecting leaks, call ONWASA at 455-0722.