Leak Detection

How to Read Your Water Meter

Just like a car odometer measures miles, the meter tracks how much water you use. Meters measure water in cubic feet. One full rotation of the red sweep hand is 1 cubic foot, or 7.48 gallons. SMWD bills customers in increments of 100 cubic feet (CCF). So 1 billing unit (1 CCF) equals 748 gallons. The meter to the right reads 4 CCF.

You can track your meter reads daily or weekly to monitor your water use.

Water Meter

Suspect a leak?

Learn how to check.

Your water meter is a very helpful device. It can assist you in finding plumbing leaks, as well as provide information about how much water you have recently used. Your water meter is usually located in a small concrete box near the street.

Step 1 ✔ Turn off all faucets and water-using devices inside and outside your home.

Step 2 ✔ Check your water meter.

The triangle located on the face of the water meter is the low-flow indicator – it will spin if any water passes through the meter. Because you have turned off all water-using devices, the triangle should be completely motionless.

Step 3 ✔ Turn off your house valve and check your water meter again. 

If your water meter's triangle is spinning, you can check for leaks by turning off your house valve. If the triangle stops spinning entirely, the leak is indoors. If the triangle continues to spin, the leak is outdoors (e.g. sprinkler system or main line).

House Valve & Pressure Regulator

House Valve


Toilet Leak

Toilet Tank

Toilet Leaks

Toilets are the most common source of indoor leaks. Perform a simple dye tablet test for leak detection.

✔ Put dye tablets in the toilet tank. Wait 30 minutes without flushing. If colored water appears in the bowl, you have a leak.

✔ Check to see if the toilet flapper falls down and seals completely. Rubber flappers degrade over time. The flapper may be in need of replacement or a simple cleaning.

✔ If you notice that water is flowing into the overflow tube, you have an overflow leak. Adjust/lower the fill valve (or float) in order to lower the water line within the tank. The water line should always sit below the top entrance of the overflow tube.

✔ Make any necessary adjustments/repairs to the flapper or fill valve.

Common Leaks

Common issues around the house that may cause leaks – or register slow movement on the water meter – include leaky toilets, leaky fixtures (showerheads, faucets, hose bibs), or leaky appliances (water heater, clothes washer, ice maker). Some leaks that are more severe include pinhole leaks, slab leaks, main line leaks, and swimming pool leaks. Some outdoor issues that may cause leaks include stuck irrigation valves, broken sprinkler heads, or broken irrigation lines.

Be sure to check for leaks, pooling water, or wet areas around your property that do not dry up. These signs may be indicative of a leak and/or broken service/irrigation line located underground.