Jackson Water Utility's Water Problem Suggestion List

Your water meter can be a valuable tool in detecting water leaks in and around your home.

How to detect a leak:

  1. Make certain all of your faucets (including outside faucets) are turned all the way off, and that no water is escaping from them. If you have trouble turning them off, new washers could be a solution. Just a slow drip can waste 15 to 20 gallons a day.
  2. When all of the water faucets have been turned off, make certain the water heater is not filling, the dishwasher is not in operation, the washing machine is not in operation, the toilet is not flushing, and the water softener is not recycling. Before moving to Step 3, allow these appliances to finish their cycles or manually turn them off.
  3. With all sources of water demand shut down, go to your water meter and watch the meter for a few minutes. If you have a water leak, the meter will be moving. If you are able to detect any movement while you are watching it, you can assure yourself there is no leak by recording the reading and noting the positions of the numbers, go on about your business for some period of time (without using any water) and return to the meter and note whether the reading changed or if the dials moved. If the meter recorded more water usage (by having observed movement on the meter) you have an undetected loss of water.

A common source of water system leakage is an incorrect float setting in the toilet tank, which allows water to run continuously down the overflow pipe. Another source, which is less common, is a malfunctioning flapper valve that permits a small amount of water to escape to the toilet and the toilet tries to fill itself continuously. Put a bit of food coloring in each toilet tank. Without flushing, watch for a few minutes to see if the color shows up in the bowl. A toilet that runs continuously can use as much as 4,000 gal per day! Even a slow silent leak can add gallons to your bill.

If no water leaks are detected:

If no water leaks are detected, then alertness to wasteful practices and conservation practices are left for examination. The following are practices and water conservation aids you may want to consider:

  1. Make certain your water softener is not cycling more than necessary or desired.
  2. Check to see if you have a water conservation toilet. This can be detected if you can lift the handle in mid-flush and water stops releasing from the tank. If you are not flushing solids, you might want to use this feature if you have it.
  3. Double check hoses that are left attached to outside hose bibs (faucets) that might not be turned all the way off. Kids sometimes forget, or are not strong enough to completely turn off the hose bib. Flexible plastic nozzles, which automatically stop the flow of water when released, might be a consideration.
  4. Rinse recyclables when you are running hot water in your sink for other cleanup or kitchen tasks. It will use less water and you won't waste the non-heated water from you hot water pipes, waiting for the water to turn hot.
  5. Try to use automatic dishwashers and washing machines with full loads only. Even when the machines feature short cycles, you are being more efficient with your water when there are enough dirty things for a full load.
  6. Don't shower too long or fill the tub too full. Five minutes for showering and about five inches in the tub is plenty.
  7. Water your lawn and garden with good sense. Do it early or late, not in midday heat. Avoid windy days. See that water goes where it should, not on sidewalks or driveways. Stick a spade in the ground now and then to see that water is getting down deep.