How to Check for a Leak

Once you know how to read your water meter, it's time to put that knowledge to work for you. Finding water leaks can save you water, which means you save money on your water and sewer bills. Also, you can figure out how much various appliances are using.

STEP 1: For leak detection, turn all water-using appliances off so that no water is being used anywhere in the house. Then check the position of the meter dial and wait. If after 15 minutes, the dials haven't moved, congratulations! You have a relatively water-tight home. But, if the dials have moved, start checking hose connections, faucets and the toilets for water leaks. If you have everything turned off and are sure the toilets and connections aren't leaking and yet the dials are still turning, you may have a hidden leak in an underground pipe. If you believe this is the case, you may need to call a plumber for assistance.

STEP 2: Turn on the lawn sprinkler and watch the meter dial move for exactly one minute. One complete revolution of the sweep hand (on the straight-reading meter) or the one foot dial (round-reading meter) represents 7.5 gallons. Count the number of revolutions and multiply it by 7.5 to get the amount of gallons used per minute. Now estimate how long you usually leave the sprinkler running. The hundreds of gallons of water going into your lawn and garden each week may come as a surprise to you.

STEP 3: Wait for a member of the family to step into the shower and follow the same timing routine. Check the volume of water used and multiply it by the number of minutes a normal shower takes in your family. If you're shocked at how much water is used in the shower, maybe you need a low-flow showerhead.