Oops! We’ve Sprung A Leak

Residents occasionally call the Water District with reports of leaks in their yards. Almost 90 percent of these calls result in repairs to the District’s lines and meters with no direct cost to the customer. But the other 10 percent are related to customer lines, which are leaking costly, metered water. What do you do?

Q. How do you determine if it’s your line that is leaking?
A. This is relatively easy. Each home and business in the District has a meter. The meter is usually located near the street on one side of the lot. The meters are also inside a meter box, which is typically constructed of black plastic. The cover for the meter box will lift off with just slight effort.

Inside, there are generally two meters: one for your home and one for your neighbor. As you face your home, standing on the street side of the meter box, the meter closest to your home should monitor your water service.

Wipe any soil or dirt away from the glass lens that encloses the meter register. The register is round with a large red pointer, and somewhat resembles an automobile odometer, with a small red triangle near the center of the register.

The “odometer” section accumulates the gallons used each month for your water bill. The digits on the left have a white background and the digits on the right have a black background. Only the white background digits on the left are recorded for your water bill. These digits indicate how many thousands of gallons are consumed through the meter.

The three digits with the black background indicate usage less than one thousand gallons and are not recorded. This is due to the District’s billing structure which only charges for water in one thousand gallon increments. You can check your water consumption by recording these numbers each month and subtracting the prior month’s reading from your current reading. The date that the District reads your meter is recorded on your bill if you wish to coordinate your readings with those of the District.

The large red pointer on the register indicates usage from 0 to 10 gallons. If this pointer is moving, water is flowing through the meter.

Q. What do you do if you suspect that you have a leak?

A. The small red triangle in the center of the register is a flow indicator. Any movement of this triangle indicates that water is flowing through the meter, even if the red pointer is not moving. If this is the case, you have a leak on your line.

Q. So, you have a leak on your private water line; how do you determine where the leak may be?

A. Locate the main valve for the water line entering your home. This is typically on the side of the house near an outside hose faucet. Turn this valve off and return to the meter. If movement continues, the lead is on your line between the meter and the home. If movement has stopped on the meter, the leak is inside the home.

The most common cause of leaks inside the home is a leaking toilet flush valve. A leak can exist here without any visible or audible indications. An easy method of checking for a leaking toilet is to add red or any other bright food coloring to the water in the tank. Observe the water in the bowl after approximately 30 minutes. If the bowl water has begun to change color, you have a leaking flush valve that needs to be repaired promptly.

If you discover a leak between the meter and your house, contact the District immediately. Leaks within your house are your responsibility to repair.