Old Gainesboro Road Utility District
Smith Utility District

Water Leaks

If you receive a water bill that is much higher than normal, you may have a water leak. Leaks are often the culprit for unexplained water consumption. To determine if you have a water leak:

  • Locate your water meter. It is normally found at the property line in the front yard.
  • Make sure no one is running water in the house. Read and record your meter reading.
  • There is a hand that looks somewhat like a second hand on a watch. Note its position. Observe the position of this hand for 2 to 3 minutes. If it moves, there is a leak.
  • There may also be a small triangle or red-wheel device located on the dial. If it is moving, you have a leak.
  • You may have a water cut-off valve inside your house. If so, close the valve. If the meter is still moving, your leak is between the meter and the valve location.
  • Look for wet spots in the yard. This type of leak in the waterline is often difficult to locate, so you may need to call a plumber.
  • If the meter flow indicator hand stops when the cut-off valve is closed, the leak is in the house beyond the cut-off valve. Turn the valve back on and check in and under the house for a leak.
  • If the hand or detector on your water meter is not moving, then you need to read and note the position of the hand on the meter before you vacate the house for an hour or so, or before you go to bed at night, and then read and check the position of the hand just as soon as you get home, or get up in the morning, before running any water. If the reading has changed, or if the hand has moved, then water went through your meter. This usually means a leaky toilet is the culprit.
  • Toilets are the most common cause of high water bills. First, check the water level in the tank. It should be at least 1/2 inch below the top of the overflow tube. To check for a leak, lift the lid and put 3-4 drops of food coloring in the tank water. Don't flush the toilet for an hour or so if possible. Check the water in the toilet bowl and if the water is colored with the food coloring, you have a leak. This type of leak is usually easy to repair by replacing the flapper assembly. If this does not work, consult a plumber.

Conservation Tips

  • Take shorter showers. Long, hot showers can waste 5 to 10 gallons every unneeded minute.
  • Install low-flow shower heads and toilets. Low-flow toilets use 1/2 the water of a standard toilet.
  • Install low-flow faucet aerators to faucets.
  • Fill a glass with water when brushing your teeth for rinsing instead of running the water.
  • Rinse your razor in the sink. Fill the bottom of the sink with a few inches of water.
  • Wash only full loads in your washing machine and dishwasher.
  • If you wash dishes by hand, don't leave the water running for rinsing.
  • Don't let the faucet run while you clean vegetables. Rinse them in a pan of clean water.
  • Use a nozzle on your garden hose that will stop the water flow when appropriate.
  • Use a broom, not a hose, to clean driveways and sidewalks.
  • Water your lawn only when it needs it. When you step on the grass and it stays flat, fetch the sprinkler.
  • Water your lawn during the cool parts of the day. Early morning watering prevents fungus growth.
  • Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator. Running tap water to cool it off for drinking is wasteful. Plus any air or chlorine taste in the water will dissipate.
  • Watch for wet spots in the yard, dripping faucets, and listen for running toilets. Leaks waste thousands of gallons of water each month. When you use your garden hose, make sure you remember to turn off the water when you're done. Leaving the garden hose running is a common reason for a high water bill also.
  • If you have always had good water pressure, and you suddenly have a drop in pressure, check your meter first to make sure you haven't sprung a leak in your waterline. However, pressure problems are most likely due to a pressure regulator that is no longer functioning, and therefore lowers your water pressure too much.