Checking for Leaks
Leaks are no tiny matter
Household leaks account for as much a one trillion gallons of water wasted annually in the United States. A leak, in an average household, can add up to more than 10,000 gallons of water wasted in a single year. That is more than 90 gallons of water a day! Common types of leaks found in the home are worn toilet flappers, dripping faucets and leaking valves. Most leaks are easy to fix.
Whether a leaky gasket or a hole in a pipe, small leaks can add up:
- Ten drips per minute = 500 gallons per year
- One drip per second = 3,000 gallons year.
- 1/16 inch (1.6 mm) = 822 gallons a day
Use your meter to check for leaks
Knowing how to read your meter can help you determine usage rates and possibly find leaks. Nationally, it is estimated that 10 percent of all households have a leak, equating to about 1 trillion gallons of water wasted each year in the United States.
Location of your meter
The water meter is usually located in the basement or crawlspace on the wall facing the street. For some homes, the water meter will be located outside in a meter pit. Be aware the water meter, though located within your property, belongs to the Town. (Municipal Code 13.12.050.) If you need assistance locating and reading your meter, please call us at 720-733-6000.
Locating a leak
First, you will need to determine if the leak is inside your home or the sprinkler system. Find the valve that supplies water to your sprinkler system and close it. Look at the meter, has the flow indicator stopped moving? If so, you have isolated the leak to your sprinkler system. If not, then the leak is inside.
If the leak is inside the home, you can conduct a similar test by turning off the water valve at each faucet or appliance and observing if there is movement in the water meter. Common types of leaks found in the home include worn toilet flappers, dripping faucets and leaking valves. Most are easily correctable by visiting your local home improvement center.
Identifying a leak
Meters with a traditional analog dial, will have a flow indicator on the face. It will be either a black triangle or red dial. Turn off all the water inside and outside, ensuring appliances are not in use. Look at the flow indicator. If the flow indicator is spinning, water is passing through the meter. For the digital meters, look at the display. If the numbers are changing / increasing, then there is water passing through the meter. If you are not using water and the dials / display are moving, there may be a leak.
In some cases your meter may indicate flow, but it is not a leak. These could include an in-home humidifier, swamp cooler, ice maker or similar appliance. If in doubt, contact us to schedule a flow detection service call at 720-733-6000.
Checking for a leaky toilet
Toilets account for the largest amount of indoor leaks. An undetected toilet leak could waste as much as 5 gallons of water per minute. The most common toilet leak is caused by a deteriorated flush valve (flapper) at the bottom of the toilet tank. If the flapper does not seat properly, water will leak into the toilet bowl. Often, this leak will occur without being heard. A new toilet flapper is inexpensive and can be purchased at any home improvement center with easy to install instructions. Flappers deteriorate over time and are worsened by in-tank cleaning products.
Detecting larger toilet flapper leaks
- Remove the lid from the tank.
- Flush the toilet.
- Wait until the tank and bowl have refilled completely.
- If the water does not stop flowing to fill the tank, you have a leak. The flush valve and flapper will need to be replaced.
Detecting smaller toilet leaks
- Remove the lid from the tank.
- Add one toilet leak detection dye tablet (available at Castle Rock Water) to the tank. A few drops of food coloring can be used in place of the dye tablet.
- Wait several minutes (approximately 15) for the tablet to dissolve or the food coloring to completely disperse throughout the tank.
- Do not flush. Observe if any of the colored water from the tank finds its way into the bowl.
- If the water in the bowl becomes colored, the flush valve and flapper are not sealing properly and needs to be replaced.
- Clean your toilet promptly to prevent staining, especially if using food coloring.