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, ice makers, and any other appliance that uses water. If you have an automatic irrigation system, turn off the controller.
Step 2: Locate your meter box.
It is generally located near the sidewalk in front of your home in a direct line with the main outside faucet. (Note: It’s important to make sure the meter box lid is uncovered and visible at all times.
) Carefully remove the meter box lid using a tool such as a large screwdriver, then stand back. Sometimes ‘critters’ hide inside the box and will be startled when the lid is removed; give them a chance to get out of the way.
Step 3: Examine the Meter Dial
The meter uses a straight-reading dial, which is read similar to a car’s odometer. The meter measures water use in thousands of gallons. The small pointer or dial near the center of the meter is the flow indicator and should not move if you are not using any water inside or outside the home. If the flow indicator is moving, you may have a leak.
Step 4: To isolate the leak, turn off the water to your house.
- 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 4.
- 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 4.
- If no movement is recorded, you probably don’t have a leak. The meter will not be able to detect leaks in the irrigation system if the system is running
Your home’s valve is usually located under the outside faucet near the front of the house or under the house. With all water turned off in the house, there should be no movement of the small pointer or any of the dials on the meter. If the leak indicator or dial hand is still moving, water is flowing between the meter and the shut-off valve. That means you could have a leak between the meter and the valve where water enters your home. This is called the ‘service line’. Consider that movement in your meter can also be caused by things like an automatic pool valve or a leaking irrigation valve.
Step 5: Check your irrigation system.
If you have leaks in your irrigation system, they may not be noticeable unless your system is on, (solenoid valves require power.) Turn your controller on manually and walk your property looking for broken sprinkler heads, missing spray heads (which will produce small streams of water), or breaks in irrigation piping or tubing. Check for leaks inside the house including toilets, washing machines, faucets, etc.
Step 6: Check for toilet leaks.
Toilet leaks are one of the most common leaks and can sometimes be hard to pinpoint. They will start and stop and sometimes the flapper will not leak at all for a few flushes. To check a toilet for a leak, add 2 or 3 drops of food coloring to the water in the reservoir or tank. Wait 15-30 minutes. If the water in the bowl changes colors, the rubber flapper needs to be replaced.
Step 7: Congratulate yourself!
You’ve just completed a leak-detection investigation.