Did you receive a notification on your statement that you may have continuous use at your property?
If you received this notification, water was used continuously for the 24 hour period prior to the monthly meter read at your property. This use sets off a leak trouble code that gets logged with your meter read. We cannot tell the exact day the continuous water use started or if the water use was inside or outside at your property.
Since leaks can start at any time it is recommended that all properties have a Customer Service Valve (CSV) installed past the water meter that is easy to access. If you are leaving the property for more than a couple of days, turn the CSV off to stop the water supply to the house. (Note: You may need to check with a licensed contractor to verify any additional systems hooked up to your water supply will function properly once the CSV is shut-off, such as hydronic heat).
How to Find and Fix Water Leaks
Did you know the average home can leak 25 to 30 gallons of water a day? Slow drips of water can add up quickly. Even small leaks can add up to thousands of gallons of water waste annually. If the drip is on the hot water side you are also paying for wasted energy. By not repairing leaks you not only waste water and energy but you may also be subjecting your home and personal belongings to severe water damage. Identifying and repairing water leaks is a great way to reduce the amount of water that you are billed.
Using your water meter to check for leaks:
- Locate the water meter. It is generally near the street at the corner of the lot marked with a fence post painted blue under a metal or concrete lid. Brush away any soil or dirt before you remove the lid and be very careful of electronic equipment and wires. The water meter register has a black protective dust cover that you will need to flip back to read the meter. Water meters have numbers and spinning dials, which record usage. When water is not being used, none of the numbers or dials on the meter should move. Our meters have a small red star wheel "the leak detector", which spins to record the low volume of water use that is common with leaks, this star can spin very slowly.
- Turn off every water-using item inside and outside the building, one at a time if necessary to identify a leaky fixture. Perhaps have another person with a cell phone watch the meter while you turn off the fixtures so they can report to you when the leak detector stops.
- Watch the water meter for a minute or more. If the leak detector dial is moving, even at a slow rate, you might have a leak. You may also want to check the main meter reading (numbers and sweep hand) at a set time, and then come back an hour later to check the reading - ensuring that no water has been turned on during the hour. If the meter reading has increased, there is a leak.
* Note: Please be aware that since the meter is our property and responsibility we do not allow anyone other than IVGID personnel trained to turn the meter valve on/off. Please be aware a $100 dollar tampering fine may be levied for turning the valve at the meter. Please call (775) 832-1203 24 hours a day to get assistance.
To determine whether the leak is inside or outside of your building:
First find the building’s shut-off valve (if you have one). If you do not have a shut-off valve, we recommend you have one installed. It can be indoors or outdoors, but should be near the location where the water line enters the building. If you don't know where the shut-off valve is, find where your water line enters the building, and start in the crawl space or mechanical room. Close the building’s shut-off valve and then turn on a water fixture to confirm that the water is off and check the water meter. If the shut-off valve is closed and the meter has stopped, the leak is inside your building. If you need help with repairs, or in locating the interior leak, call a licensed plumber. If the meter continues to run with the building shut-off valve closed, your leak is in the lateral line (between the meter and the building) or it is in the irrigation system, depending on where the irrigation system is connected. If a leak between the meter and the building is suspected, carefully walk the path again from the meter to where the line enters your building to locate the leak. Look for obvious signs of an outdoor water leak, such as ground sinking, dampness, lush grass in an isolated area or pooling of water. We recommend calling a licensed plumber to fix underground leaks.
How to check for a leaky toilet:
Toilet leaks can range from small to large, constant to random and many are silent. Even a small, silent leak can waste $50 per year, or more, in water and sewer costs. Large leaks waste much more. The good news is it’s easier than you think to fix a toilet leak.
- If your toilet is functioning properly, no water should move from the tank to the bowl, until it is manually flushed. Remove the tank lid. Add just a few drops of food coloring to the tank water. Do not use any other kind of dye - it can permanently stain your toilet bowl. Replace the tank lid.
- After 15 minutes or so, look in the toilet bowl. If you see colored water you have a leak. If the water is clear water is not leaking from the tank to the bowl.
- Remember, if you have a leak, the toilet can flush on its own, so make sure it hasn't (or wasn't manually) flushed while you were waiting. The most common reason a toilet loses water from the tank to the bowl is a malfunctioning flapper. The flapper is a rubber control valve that opens when you flush your toilet. Another cause could be, the fill valve causing some leakage if the valve isn’t completely closing after refilling the tank. If you remove the tank lid, and can easily identify the cause of the leak, correct the problem and then try your leak test again. Bending the float or adjusting the rubber flapper should be considered temporary “fixes”- they won't solve the problem. Also a small leak will only get worse over time.
A word about in tank toilet bowl cleaners:
A damaged toilet flapper is the number one cause of all toilet leaks. The problem often occurs when in-tank chlorine toilet cleaners are used. While these products are keeping your toilet bowl clean, the chemicals can damage a rubber flapper in as little as 30 days, ultimately causing a leak.
How to Check for Irrigation or Outdoor Leaks
Checking the irrigation system / lawn sprinkler system for leaks:
If you do not find the leak inside your building, you need to check the irrigation or sprinkler system. To check for irrigation leaks, you need to isolate the irrigation system from the main water line.
- Turn the irrigation valve off. If the irrigation valve is turned off and the meter has stopped, the leak is in the irrigation system. Spotting leaks in irrigation or sprinkling systems is similar to troubleshooting internal plumbing - you have to look for signs of a leak, keep in mind, that not all leaks will come to the surface or show any sign.
- When you have an irrigation system installed, it's a good idea to retain a copy of the system's layout. This will provide you with a map so you can “walk the system” to identify leaks. Any wet spots or pooling of water should be investigated.
- In general, irrigation systems should be checked at least weekly, while the system is on (water is being delivered to landscaping), to ensure they are operating properly and your plants are getting the water they need. Also, inspect drip emitters and sprinkler-heads to ensure they are intact. Broken heads or emitters can release a lot of water sometimes unnoticed, driving up your water bill.
If you have a service line leak:
After confirming that the building has a service line leak and try to determine where the leak is located. If it is not possible to locate the leak it might be necessary to dig up the entire service line in order to repair or replace. If your service line is galvanized steel or PVC then the entire line may need to be replaced because once the current leak is fixed the line is likely to fail at a different spot in the near future.
If you find that your leak is in the service line, main water line into your building, please first contact USA Dig at 811 or 1-800-227-2600 or visit their website www.usanorth.org, at least two working days before you dig! It is a Nevada State law and you could be subject to a $50,000 fine. Also, before you start work call Washoe County Building and Safety 775-328-2020 and IVGID Compliance 775-832-1224.
After the leak is fixed, but before the line is buried, call the IVGID compliance department at 775-832-1224 for an appointment to inspect the work. This will insure that the repair was done per our Ordinances.
Do you have additional questions about your usage?
You can track your meter reads and usage in the following Meter Reading Log:
Meter Reading Log
This information is provided as a public service of IVGID. Any action by a water customer as a result of this information is the sole responsibility of the customer. IVGID recommends using a licensed contractor. A licensed contractor will know the permit process for Washoe County, Tahoe Regional Planning Agency and IVGID.