Checking For A Water Leak


If you suspect that you may have a water leak , there is a simple test you can perform. First make sure that no water is being used (for example: toilet is not running, washing machine is off, etc.).  Next, go to your water meter and note the reading on the dial.  Wait an hour and check the reading again.  If the reading has changed you probably have a leak.

If your faucets aren't dripping and you don't see any wet spots out in the yard, the source of your water leak may be your toilet.  Another simple test will verify that suspicion.  Put about 10-12 drops of food coloring in the tank (not the bowl) of the toilet.  If the coloring shows up in your bowl (give it about 15 minutes), you have a leak.  Most hardware and plumbing supply stores will have repair guides and parts so that you can make the necessary repairs and be back in business again.

After you have determined that you have a leak, the next step is to determine if the leak is inside or outside of your house.


Locate your home's main shut off valve and shut off the water at the valve. Typically, you will find the shut off valve in the basement or garage directly behind an outdoor faucet, or outside below an outdoor faucet.

Again, check the leak indicator for movement or use the meter reading method, making sure not to use any water during this period. If the leak indicator stops moving or there is no change in the meter readings, then you have a leak inside of the house. If the leak indicator continues to move or there is a change in the meter readings, then the leak is outside between the meter and the house.


If you are unable to locate the leak, you may need to call a plumber.


Leaking Faucets

Leaking faucets are generally a result of a worn rubber washer. The washer on a sink is usually located under the handle. These are relatively easy to replace, if you have the right tools. It does require shutting off the water under the sink or at the main shutoff valve and removing the handle. (Note: faucet handles are not shutoff valves.) Check your local home center or hardware store on how to repair faucet leaks.


Leaking Toilets

Toilet leaks can waste hundreds of gallons and often times are silent. Even a small leak can add up to a lot of wasted water and money over time. Fortunately, most toilet leaks are easy and inexpensive to repair.


To help determine if you have a leaking toilet, simply remove the tank lid and place a few drops of food coloring in back of the toilet tank. (If you don't have food coloring, you can purchase dye tabs from any hardware or home center). Wait about 30 minutes, without flushing, and then look in the toilet bowl to see of any color has come through. If the water is clear, water is not leaking. If you see food coloring in the bowl you have a leak.


In most cases, you will simply just need to replace the toilet flapper and/or filling mechanism. These are available at hardware or home center stores for about $8.00 each.


Flapper Valve Leaks

The most common reason for a leaking toilet is one that has an improperly working or sealing flapper. The flapper is the rubber valve in the bottom of the tank that lifts up when the toilet is flushed. If the flapper is worn or cracked, it allows water to continuously flow from the tank into the toilet bowl without flushing.


Flush Handle Problems

If the handle needs to be jiggled to keep the toilet from running, the flush level bar and chain (or the handle itself) may be sticking. Adjust the nut that secures it in the toilet tank. If that does not work, the handle may have to be replaced.


Overflow Tube Leaks

Ideally the water level should be set so that it is about even with the fill line on the back of the toilet tank (approximately ½" below the overflow tube). If the water is too high in the toilet tank and is spilling into the overflow tube, the water level can be adjusted by turning the adjustment screw or by very gently bending the float arm down so that the water shuts off at a level below the overflow tube.

Note: If none of these steps solve the problem, you may need to contact a plumber to repair or replace the toilet.



Updated: November 15, 2017