Do You Have A Water Leak?

Is your water bill higher than it should be? Toilet leaks may be silent, but account for about 95% of increased water use that shows up on bills. How to tell if you have a leak in your plumbing:

  1. Turn off all the water inside and outside the house, including showers, sinks, washing machines, and anything else that uses fresh water.
  2. Take the lid off the water meter box. Be careful – lids can be heavy and bugs or small animals can hide inside.
  3. Watch the meter. If the hand is moving, you have a leak. If the hand is not moving, note the position of the meter and check again in 10 minutes. If it moved, you have a slow leak. If it didn’t, no leak!
  4. Got a leak? For how to determine if the leak is inside or outside and tips on how to fix it, continue reading here.

Not only will fixing a leak save you money on future water bills, but you may receive a partial refund on your previous water bills if you discover a leak and then fix it? Contact your water department for more information. I think this is a very fair way to help encourage water conservation. You must usually take action soon after finding out about the leak and prove that they were fixed.

Toilet Leaks
It is not uncommon to find toilets leaking much more water than the average 22 gallons. Silent toilets leaks can account for up to 300 gallons of day of lost water without anybody noticing the leakage. This size of leak costs over $500 dollars a year and should be repaired immediately.

To check your toilet for leaks:
1. Lift off the toilet tank lid. Without flushing, place 2 dye tablets (or 10 drops of food coloring) in the toilet tank.
2. If water in the bowl turns color within 10 minutes, you have a toilet leak.

Stormwater Management Discounts
You may also get a separate discount on your water bill by redirecting stormwater runoff away from drains and towards lawn areas or rain barrels. This allows the stormwater to be filtered naturally through soil and vegetation instead of going straight into the sewer system.

I recently fixed a bunch of leaky faucets in our house, but since I’m only billed quarterly for water I’m not sure how much money I saved yet. I’m sure it was more than the cost of a new washer!

The preceding was taken from a brochure by my local water bureau.

I don’t have a leak! 🙂
Here’s a picture of my water meter, and the leak indicator which was not moving (click on it to enlarge). I also came back and checked 10 minutes later, and it still stayed the same. I was also happy to see that the meter reading was consistent with the readings from my water bill.

Water Meter Reading


  1. Can you include the link that tells how to diagnose whether a link is inside or outside?

  2. Should be fixed, I forgot to close an html tag. Thanks!

  3. Most water meters will have a small triangle that spins to show “micro” water usage. If you turn everything off (including your icemaker!) then even a dripping faucet will show up on that triangle. Less developed new home markets use this exclusively to test their plumbing.

  4. I’ve also heard if you put food coloring in the tank, if there is a leak, the next morning the water in the bowl will be colored

  5. I had an issue a couple of years ago where the bottom of my water heater (which is under the house) rusted out and was leaking massive amounts of water for 3 months before I discovered it. Huge gas and water bills hit me. Also caused all kinds of problems due to hot humid water being dumped under the house for so long. Definetly felt like an idiot for not discovering the issue sooner.

  6. Added some pictures of my water meter after checking today. No leak 😀

  7. Great post! My husband currently is replacing the floor and vinyl in our guest bathroom because of a slow, hidden leak under the toilet. Be aware, these things aren’t covered by homeowner’s insurance since they’re considered “maintenance.” As a homeowner, you MUST check on your water heater, toilets, etc for leaks every so often to prevent shelling out bucks on major repairs. Thank goodness my husband’s somewhat handy and enjoys doing home repairs (we bought inexpensive flooring, and he already owns most of the tools necessary for the job) or this could have drained our emergency fund, and then some!

  8. ——-One other point on saving money on water bills: Over the years I’ve read (and heard personally about) instances of water lines bursting in homes while the residents vacationed. The lines most likely to burst are the supply lines to washing machines. Some times water heaters fail when the tank corrodes through, and all the water in the tank leaks out. Burst lines are more likely in freezing weather — should the heating system fail for enough time, the water supply system will fail.
    ——-If someone is not at home for several weeks of a burst pipe, the amount of water could cause enough damage to justify razing the house and starting over!
    ——-I am not aware of any reason to keep water supplied to an unoccupied house. Some years ago I started shutting off my main water supply valve whenever no one would be home for one night or longer. The first time I tried this, I broke the main water supply valve, which started leaking. Fortunately the leak was not severe, and I was able to get a plumber to replace the ancient gate-valve assembly with a modern ball-valve, which is much easier to open & close. I also shut off the heat supply to the water heater. When I return home the first thing I do is turn the main valve on, then I listen to the pipes re-filling, and listen for any sounds of abnormal water movement. My water bill when I take a vacation is as low as can possibly be!

  9. Another way to check for water leaks is to use some form of water detection device around your water heater, faucets and toilets. Monnit makes a low cost wireless water detection sensor that can send you emails or text messages when it detects water. We are actually using these inside toilets to determine whether the flapper is completely shut or not. view more information here

    or click here


  1. - » CreditDigest Roundup for December 31-January 6 says:

    […] One reason we get into debt is that it’s hard to keep up with the necessary expenses of life, like soaring electric and gas bills. Jonathan @ MyMoneyBlog asks, “Do You Have a Water Leak?” He reports that leaky toilets can secretly flush away up to 10,000 gallons every month! Your toilet’s uncontrolled drinking problem could cost you $500 a year! […]

  2. […] more tips: My money blog explains how water leaks cost money on your water bill and how to figure this out. January 9, […]

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