Seek a Leak
Carefully note the meter-reading dates* listed on the bill. (*Note: There is often a delay of a month or more between the period when the water was used until the bill is actually received.)
Checking for leaks should include ruling out any other reasons for high usage. Did any of the following occur during your billing period:
- Water Hose Use
- Holiday House Guests
- New Sod
- Pool Cleaning or Refilling
Remember, any appliance that is connected to water could potentially leak.
If these options cannot account for higher usage, check for leaks. The following tabs include simple DIY leak tests to help check for common problems.
Toilets, The Silent Spenders
Many toilets have slow, silent leaks. As the tank’s water level drops, the toilet will briefly run to replace lost water. This may be very quick, quiet, or even silent.
How to check for toilet leaks with a dye-test:
- Add food coloring (6-7 drops), or a dye tablet, to the tank.
- Wait 30 minutes, then check the bowl.
- Check the bowl. Color will appear in the toilet bowl If the toilet flapper is leaking,
- Flush as soon as the test is complete, since food coloring may stain the tank.
Visit ToiletFlapper.org for a video tutorial on how to do a dye-test.
Even when working properly, sprinklers can use more than 1,000 gallons per hour they run. Even when used efficiently, sprinklers typically will account for more than half of the typical Floridian's water bill. Broken heads and pipe leaks can certainly cause that usage to increase. Be sure to test-run the system at least once per season to check for leaks and misdirected sprays.
Very low pressure within a zone can sometimes be an indication of hidden or underground leaks. Other signs might include sandy, washed out areas and/or extremely saturated areas in the lawn or landscape. Sprinkler heads bordering the driveway and sidewalk are especially prone to damage from vehicles and landscaping equipment.
While not technically a leak, timer programming issues are surprisingly frequently identified as the cause for unexpected high usage. For instance, accidentally programming multiple start-times can suddenly cause the sprinkler's usage to double, triple, or worse... Programming errors are often very easy to overlook, and as a result, they are actually surprisingly common. Because over-watering can encourage weeds, pests, and turf disease, this type of common mistake doesn't just waste water (and money), it can even harm the lawn you're trying to keep green. For more information, please visit the "Programming Problems" section of our Lawns and Irrigation page.
Are you adding more salt than usual? If yes, the water softener may be generating more often than it should. Check the settings.
Sometimes, a softener valve will get "stuck" in regeneration mode. When it does, it can waste hundreds of gallons... per hour. The effect is similar to leaving a hose running non-stop, and can result in a lot of water lost. If you notice that the softener is running constantly, place it into "bypass" mode until it can be serviced.
Have you repaired anything in the past three months?
Compare the date of repair to the read-dates on your water bills. There can be a month or more from the period when a repair was made until the effect will be seen on the bill.
Identified and repaired a leak?
For Pasco County Utilities' customers, it pays to fix leaks. See if you qualify for Pasco County Utilities’ Leak Adjustment Program. Criteria and required forms can be found online under Documents and Forms.
Check the Meter's Flow Indicator
Typically, the water meter is located in the front yard, near the street or sidewalk. (You may need a screwdriver, or similar device to assist with removal of the meter box lid.) Have a pencil or pen and some paper handy.
Carefully remove the meter-box lid, and set it aside. Then flip the meter lens cap to expose the meter face. (Dirt may need to be removed to expose the meter dial.)
Most meter faces have a flow indicator (small, red or black in color, triangular or snowflake in shape). If there is no water being used at the time of inspection, the flow indicator should be 100% stationary. If the flow indicator is turning, continue directly to Step #4 below. (This is a good indication that there may* be a leak somewhere in or around your dwelling.)
Not all leaks are big and clearly noticeable. However, even a small or intermittent leak can add noticeably to your water bill. If the meter does not have a flow indicator -or- the flow indicator is not moving, continue with these steps to further evaluate the situation:
1. Copy down the numbers (from left to right) on the meter’s gallons register.
Note: There are two different styles of residential meters found throughout Pasco County Utilities' service area. Both meters have a "flow indicator" to help identify minor leaks. However, each type of meter is read slightly differently. Click here to learn how to read each style of meter.
2. Do not use any water for a period of two (2) hours (or overnight).
3. Take another reading from your meter’s gallons register after the two (2) hour testing period, and compare it to the first reading. If the reading is higher, there may* be a water leak. (*Important note: Some household systems such as water softeners and sprinklers can use large amounts of water automatically, as part of normal operation. Therefore, a higher reading does not always indicate a leak.)
4. To help pinpoint the usage source as inside -or- outside the dwelling, close the house valve (generally located on an outside wall where the waterline enters the dwelling, or near the water heater). Double-check that the indoor water supply has been turned off by checking a faucet.
If the meter continues to show usage after the house valve has been shut, the issue is likely outside the dwelling. (Examples could include leaks in the service line that leads from the meter to the dwelling, a back-flow prevention device, spigot, sprinkler supply lines, etc...)
If the meter does not move after closing the house valve, there may be an issue somewhere inside the home's plumbing. (Common examples include toilets, water softeners, or pinhole leaks below the slab, etc...) Use a process of elimination to isolate and identify the issue.