Checking Your Water Meter & Testing for Leaks

Checking Your Water Meter

Some customers feel a water meter not working properly causes their high water bills. To test the accuracy of your meter, use the following procedure:

Run water until the test dial (the red sweep hand located on the face of the meter) points to zero. The test hand will be straight up in the 12 o’clock position when it is on zero. Fill a one-gallon container with water. Check the position of the test dial. It should measure .1333 cubic feet. (See illustration of meter face.)

Checking for Leaks

Newer types of water meters have a leak indicator on the face of the dial. It is a triangular or diamond-shaped indicator that revolves 354 times for every gallon of water that passes through the meter. You may see what looks like water on the face of the dial. It is oil that prevents corrosion and increases the life of the dial mechanism. It does not enter the water supply and does not affect the quality of the water delivered to the customer.

To check for leaks, look at the indicator when no one is drawing water. It should not be moving. If it is moving, check every plumbing fixture at the property, i.e., toilets, sinks, outside sprinklers, washer, hot water heaters etc. Shut off the valves that supply each fixture, one by one, and check the indicator after each shutoff. When closing a valve stops the indicator from moving, or slows its movement, you have found the location of a leak. There may be more than one leak!

Check toilets. Toilet leaks are the most common and are hard to see or hear. Put food coloring, kool-aid powder or laundry bluing in the toilet tank and wait 10 minutes. Do not flush the toilet during this time. If the coloring appears in the toilet bowl, there is a toilet leak. Also, if you hear the toilet refilling and no one has used it, there is a leak. A major toilet leak can waste 800 cubic feet of water a day – which would cost $12.96 for water and $9.44 for sewer each day. That adds up to more than $642 a month!

Look for leaky faucets. A fast drip from a faucet wastes about 265 gallons a day – which would cost 57 cents for water and 42 cents for sewer per day. That’s almost $30 a month! Repair leaky faucets and toilets promptly – do it yourself or call a plumber because these leaks cost money.

Once a leak is repaired, check the leak indicator again and make sure all leaks are repaired.