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Nearly 1 trillion gallons of water annually nationwide, is wasted due to undetected leaks.
Checking for Leaks
The average household's leaks can account for nearly 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year and ten percent of homes have leaks that wast 90 gallons or more per day. Common types of leaks found in the home are worn toilet flappers, dripping faucets, and other leaking valves. These types of leaks are often easy to fix, requiring only a few tool and hardware that can pay for themselves in water savings. Fixing easily corrected household water leaks can save homeowners about 10 percent on their water bills.
To check for leaks in your home, you first need to determine whether you're wasting water and then identify the source of the leak. Here are some tips for finding leaks:
- Take a look at your water usage during a colder month, such as January or February. If a family of four exceeds 12,000 gallons per month, there are serious leaks.
- Check your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. If the meter changes at all, you probably have a leak.
- Ask the CRWP for leak detection tablets to identify toilet leaks. If any color shows up in the bowl after 10 minutes, you have a leak. Or ask for a home water audit kit.
- Examine faucet gaskets and pipe fittings for any water on the outside of the pipe to check for surface leaks.
- Visit the Clackamas River Water Providers website Conservation page for more water conservation tools and information.
- Visit the Regional Water Providers Consortium to see a video on detecting household leaks.
The information below lists additional ways to detect water leaks:
It is possible to detect leaks in your home on your own. Most water leaks can be seen or heard, though some can be difficult to detect.
Check your water bill each month. The bill has a chart that shows 18 months of water usage. Compare your current bill to the last bill for the same month. Is your usage in a similar range? If no, and you don't know why, check for a leak. If your usage level seems higher than you think it should be, check for a leak.
Determining if You Have a Water Leak & Isolating the Location
Pin-pointing of where a leak might be located can help save hundreds of dollars in plumber fees. Fixing the problem helps conserve water and save money on your bill.
Is there a Leak?
Here are steps to check if you have a leak:
- Turn off all water sources being used in the house or any water features in your yard. Locate the water meter on your property.
- Remove the meter box lid and lift up the metal cover on the meter and locate the red triangle on the face of the water meter. If your meter does not have a red triangle or blue star, make note of the location of the needle on the meter.
- Check to see if the red triangle/blue star or needle has moved after one minute.
If you have all of your water off in the house/yard and the red triangle/blue star/needle is spinning or after five minutes the needle has moved, a leak is present somewhere on the property side of the meter. Also, if you still feel that you might have a leak, you can look at the meter when you go to bed and then look first thing in the morning (making sure no one uses water in that time). If you have you a bad leak it can be seen pretty fast. If it is a smaller leak, like a small leak in the toilet, it may take more time to see it in the meter.
Finding the Leak
Isolate the line that runs from the house to the street. Follow these steps:
- Turn off the water valve at the house and at the backflow device (for the irrigation/sprinklers.)
- If the red triangle/blue star/needle is turning there is a leak in the service line.
- If the red triangle/blue star/needle is not moving turn the backflow device back on and check the meter again. If the red triangle/needle is turning there is a leak in the irrigation/sprinkler system.
- If the red triangle/blue star/needle is not spinning at this point, turn the backflow device off and turn the water valve at the house back on.
- If the red triangle/blue star/needle is spinning there is a leak in the house.
- When done, turn on the water valve at the house and at the backflow device (for the irrigation/sprinklers).
Where to Look for a Water Leak In & Around Your House
Check your house for leaking toilets (ex. a toilet flapper not tightly fitted), faucets dripping, look under sinks/fixtures and in crawl spaces. You may also want to check your faucets and hose connections for leaks and examine any outdoor water features for drips. Inspect pipes for pinhole leaks, leaking joints, etc. Check around your house for puddles of water or investigate your property for soft spots. Listen for the leak. In pipes with 30 PSI or higher water pressure, there may be a “Hiss” or “Whoosh” sound indicating a leak may be present.
Who to Contact When You Have Determined You Have a Water Leak
If you need assistance locating or repairing a leak you have several choices depending on your particular situation. Some people can dig up the suspected area and even fix their own leak. This is your choice and could help eliminate expensive repair costs. You could also hire a professional. Leak detection companies, plumbers or even sprinkler repair businesses can fix leaks and these companies can easily be found in the phone book or online.
Still Need Assistance Determining if You Have a Leak
If you need assistance, please call Kevin McCaleb, Water Conservation Coordinator at (503) 675-3747 or the Finance Department at (503) 635-0265. Appointments to check for a leak can be scheduled Monday - Friday from 8 am to 2:30 pm.
Leak Adjustment Process
- After your leak has been repaired and you have been billed for the high consumption, you can submit a leak adjustment application form available at www.lakeoswego.city/leak. Leak adjustments are reviewed by comparing the same consumption time a year prior. After the adjustment review is complete, you will receive a phone call with the results. Meanwhile, please be sure to pay any outstanding invoices by their due dates to avoid discontinuation of service and additional charges. Should the review result in qualifying for a leak adjustment, a credit will be applied to your account upon approval.
Getting Your Water Turned Off
- If you have an emergency water leak after normal business hours and you need to get your water turned off, please call the Non-Emergency Lake Oswego Police Dispatch at (503) 635-0238.