How to Read Your Meter and Check for Leaks


How to Read Your Meter and Use It to Measure Leaks

If you have a water meter you can check your plumbing system for undetected leaks by following these easy steps:

  • Find your water meter. They’re often located in the front yard near the street.
  • Turn off all running water and water-using appliances, and don’t flush the toilet.
  • Read the dial and record the reading.
  • After 15-20 minutes, recheck the meter.
  • If no water has been turned on or used and the reading has changed, a leak is occurring. The rate (gallons per minute) of the leak can be determined by dividing the number of gallons by the elapsed time. (Check all TOILETS for silent leaks by testing them with food coloring. If the leak can’t be found and fixed, you should call a plumber.)

You should read the meter like a car odometer. You should read the meter from left to right and include the last zero on the meter. If the small black/red triangle or star (leak detector) is moving, water is going through your meter. This means that you have something on or you have a leak.


A lot more water comes out of a faucet than we realize…

  • A small faucet drip will run 30 gallons daily, 900 gallons monthly.
  • A leak 1/16”, as large as a regular knitting needle, will waste 970 gallons a day (29,100 gallons monthly).
  • A leak 1/8” in diameter will waste 3,600 gallons daily (108,000 gallons monthly).

TOILET Facilities are Responsible for 75% of all leaks


Put a few drops of food coloring into the tank at the back of your toilet and let it sit for 10 minutes. If color shows up in the bowl, you have a leak. Make sure to flush afterward to avoid staining, and consider replacing your old toilet flapper if it is torn or worn.


Common practices which result in waste of water in the home:

  • Running water continuously while shaving
  • Running water continuously while washing dishes
  • Running the water until cold to get a drink
  • Running water continuously while washing face and hands (instead of using a stoppered lavatory for water)
  • Allowing a faucet to drip or a seemingly small leak to continue
  • Improperly watering lawns and flowers


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