Finding Leaks

Use your water meter to check for leaks.

The easiest way to determine if you have a leak in your plumbing system is to check your water meter.
  • Make sure water is not being used inside or outside of your house.
  • Find your water meter and check the triangular dial to see if it’s moving. If it is, you likely have a leak.
  • Another option is to wait a couple of hours and see if the meter reading has changed. If so, you likely have a leak. To learn more, visit our page How To Read Your Meter.

Is your leak inside or outside?

  • Make sure all water using appliances and fixtures are turned off.
  • Find your home’s main shut-off valve and shut off the water. Usually, these are located in the garage directly behind an outdoor faucet.
  • Check the meter again to see if there’s any movement. If there is no movement, then you have a leak inside, or in back of the house. If the leak indicator continues to move, then you have a leak outside the house between the meter and the house.

Most common indoor leaks:

Leaking Faucets

Leaking faucets are often the result of a worn rubber washer usually located under the handle. These are relatively easy to replace if you have the right tools. Check out our video on Leaky Faucets, or contact your local home center or hardware store on how to repair faucet leaks.

Leaking Toilets

Toilet leaks can waste hundreds of gallons and are often silent. Over time, a small leak can add up to a lot of wasted water and money. To test your toilets for leaks, follow these steps:

  • Add a few drops of food coloring to the back of the toilet tank (not the bowl).
  • Wait about 30 minutes to see if any color comes through to the bowl.
  • If you see color in the water bowl, you have a leak.
  • In most cases, you simply need to replace the toilet flapper or the filling mechanism.

Water Softeners

Water softeners periodically recharge or flush by draining and filling up from the bottom. If the recharge or flush cycle gets stuck, it can continually operate and you will not notice. Check your system and call a professional if necessary.

Most common outdoor leaks:

Irrigation Systems

The first steps is to walk around your property to look for leaks or signs of leaks. Look for patches of greener grass, wet spots, small holes and depressions, as they may indicate an underground leak. Second, walk around your property while your irrigation system is on.

  • Look for missing or broken sprinklers, bubblers or drip emitters.
  • Look for leaky pipes, drip lines and hoses.
  • Check valve boxes, backflow prevention devices and other irrigation equipment for leaks.

Evaporative Cooling Systems

Evaporative coolers are connected to the home water supply to maintain water in the system. If the system fails, a constant stream of water will continue to overflow and the bleeder line will drain continuously. If the bleedoff line is inserted into the sewer pipe, you will never see that water. To check for leaks, follow these steps and if necessary, contact a professional.

  • Shut off the evaporative cooling system.
  • Find the supply valve, usually near the water heater, and shut it off.
  • If there is no more consumption showing on the meter, your system may need a check up or a repair such as replacing the refill valve, re-circulation pump, or water lines.
  • If your bleeder line drains into the sewer pipe, re-route it down your roof to water your landscape.

Swimming Pools and Fountains

A malfunctioning auto-fill valve can cause a hidden leak by continuously filing the pool and the excess water to go through the overflow drain. A hissing sound coming from the auto-fill valve might indicate a leak. Other signs of leaks can include daily water level drops, algae formation too soon after chemical treatment, loose or falling tiles, pool deck cracks, or constantly damp soil surrounding the structure. To check for a leak in  your pool or fountain, follow these steps and if necessary, contact a professional.

  • Turn off the pool system and close it off to use.
  • Place a bucket or plastic container on the top step of the pool and fill it with water equal to the water level in the pool, or fountain.
  • Use a piece of tape or marker to mark the water level on the inside and outside of the container.
  • Put the container inside for 24 hours, preserving the water.
  • After 24 hours, place the bucket back on the pool step or in the fountain and observe the water level.
  • If the pool water level is lower than the water level inside the container, there probably is a leak in the pool, fountain structure or plumbing system.

For more information and on finding leaks go to these valuable resources, which include checklists, videos and more:

Residential Leak Detection Checklist (pdf)
Commercial Leak Detection Checklist (pdf)
Irrigation Audit and Leak Detection Checklist (pdf)
Water Leaks - Checks and Repairs

Outdoor Visual Leak Inspection

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