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Leaks account for more than 10,000 gallons of water waste in an average home every year. High water bills are often caused by a leak inside or outside your home. These leaks are your responsibility to repair. Want to know if you have a leak? Follow these simple steps.
- Turn off all the water-using appliances in your home, including the washing machine, dishwasher, and ice maker, and tell everyone at home not to use the sinks, showers, or toilets for the next two hours. Do not shut off the water supply to these appliances; just make sure they aren’t actively running or being used. Only shut off the individual water supply if these appliances continuously run—some ice makers operate this way.
- Locate your water meter. It should be out in your front yard under a metal cover. Remove the cover to view the meter.
- Write down the number you see on the meter readout, or take a picture of the meter. Also observe the small leak detection wheel and the needle on the face of the meter. Nothing on the meter should be moving when you are not using any water inside or outside your home.
- After two hours of no water use, go outside and read the meter again. The number should not have changed. If the readout did change, or if you notice any movement on the meter during the test, you probably have a leak.
If you discover you have a leak, check your water fixtures and appliances to determine which one is leaking. Look for dripping faucets and showerheads, check the pipes under your sink, in your basement, or around your water heater. Don’t forget to walk around your yard to look for soggy areas that can indicate a leak in your underground pipes.
Even minor leaks can add up. Use this Drip Calculator to find out how much water a leak can waste.
Toilet Leak Detection
Check your toilets by putting one teaspoon of food coloring in the tank (the back of the toilet) or use the dye tablets we provide. Don’t flush! Wait 30 minutes and check to see if any color has appeared in the bowl. Some toilet leaks are silent, and a dye test will help you find them.
The Department of Water Resources (DWR) provides free toilet leak detection kits. The kits contain dye tablets to test your toilet for leakage and a drip guide that indicates how much water is being wasted from dripping faucets. These kits are available at the customer service counter at DWR’s Central Facility. To have one mailed to you, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 678.376.6722.
If your toilet is leaking, the cause is most often a faulty toilet flapper. Over time, this inexpensive rubber part decays. It is usually best to replace the whole flapper, a relatively easy do-it-yourself project that pays for itself in no time. If your toilet is running constantly, you could be wasting 200 gallons of water or more every day!
Do-It-Yourself Leak Repair
In many cases, fixture replacement parts pay for themselves quickly in water savings and can be installed by handy do-it-yourselfers. Here are some tips to help you get started.
- As you start the repair, take pictures of the way parts are assembled so you remember how to put them back together.
- Ask staff members at hardware and home improvement stores questions; they are often great sources of information and advice.
- Take your old parts and/or photos to the store with you to help find the correct replacements.
- Try watching a few leak repair and water fixture repair videos online before you get started.