Fixing Leaks

Use your meter to check for leaks

If you have an unusually high water bill, you may have a leak. But how can you tell? Your water meter can indicate whether you have a leak.

Before you start

  1. Make sure all water-using appliances and fixtures in your home, including irrigation systems, are switched off and no one is using any water.
  2. Locate your water meter. Water meters are usually located in the parking strip or the sidewalk at the front or side of the house. If you are unable to find your water meter, please call your water utility for assistance.

Read the dial on your water meter

  1. Remove the water meter cover, making sure you’re not creating a hazard for passers-by.
  2. If the dial on your meter has a cover on it, open the cover to view the dial, or if the dial is muddy, give it a quick clean with a damp cloth.
  3. The quickest way to see if you have a leak is to look at the dial on the face of the water meter – it’s white, silver or black in color. Watch closely for movement.
    • If the dial is not moving when no one is using water, you don’t have a leak.
    • If the dial is moving, you have a leak.

Finding the leak

  1. Close the main water shut-off valve for your house. The shut-off valve can be indoors or outdoors – usually in a basement, crawlspace or garage. If you don’t have a shut-off valve, you should arrange for a plumber to install one.
  2. Check that the water is shut off by turning on a faucet and seeing if the water stops running.
  3. If the meter dial stops moving after you’ve closed the shut-off valve, your leak is inside the house – more than likely in your toilet. Learn more about finding and fixing toilet leaks.
  4. If the dial is still moving when your shut-off valve is closed and you have an irrigation system, shut off the water to the irrigation system. If this stops the dial from moving, the leak is in your irrigation system.
  5. If water is shut off to both the house and irrigation system (if you have one), and the meter dial is still moving, you have a leak in the line between the meter and your shut-off valve and will need to call a plumber to repair it.
  6. Before finishing, make sure you securely replace the water meter cover.

Disclaimer: The Saving Water Partnership and Seattle Public Utilities provide these videos as general information only and the advice contained therein shall not be construed as any type of certification, warranty or other approval with respect to the Owner's compliance with any applicable Federal, State and/or local law, code, regulation or requirement, nor is the Saving Water Partnership or Seattle Public Utilities responsible for any injury or damage that may result from the use of the information contained in these videos.