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How to read your meter & use it to check for a leak

Did you know the average home can leak 50 to 100 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 wasted monthly. 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 & energy but you also may 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

1. Locate your water meter. It is generally near the street at the corner of the lot under a metal or plastic lid. Brush away any soil, dirt, rocks or debris before removing the lid. The meter register usually has a black protective dust cover that you may need to flip open. Water meters have numbers like an odometer and a spinning dial which record usage.
When water is not being used, none of the numbers or the dials on the meter should move. Our meters have a chrome pinwheel in the center of the dial, “the leak detector”, which spins to record the low volume of water use that is common with leaks. The leak detector will turn with the slightest of leaks.

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2. Turn off items that use water inside and outside the building, one at a time, 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.

3. Watch the meter for a minute or more. If the leak detector dial is moving, even at a slow rate, you probably have a leak. You may also want to check the 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 reading has increased, there is a leak.

*NOTE; Please be aware that since the meter is PRWU property and responsibility, we do ask that no one other than trained PRWU personnel be allowed to turn the meter valve on/off. Please call 479-451-1109 to get assistance.


To determine whether the leak is inside or outside of your building:

1. Find the building’s shut-off valve (if you have one). If you do not have one, we recommend you have one installed. It can be indoors or outdoors, but should be just outside the meter can or near the location where the water line enters the building. If you don’t know where the shut-off valve is, find where the water line enters the building and start in the crawl space or near or above the hot water heater. Per code, all newer homes will have a shut-off valve.


2. 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 valve is closed and the meter has stopped, the leak is inside your building. If the meter continues to run with the shut-off valve closed, your leak is in the service line (between the meter and the building). If a leak is between the meter and the building is suspected, carefully walk the path from the meter to where 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. If you need help with repairs, or in locating the leak, call a licensed plumber.

If you find that your leak is in the service line, main water line into your building, please first contact Arkansas One Call by dialing ‘811’ at least two working days before you dig! It is an Arkansas State Law and you could be subject to a $50,000 fine if you hit someone’s buried lines. If it is an emergency, tell the CSR and they will code it as such and try to get everyone out to mark lines ASAP.

How to check for a leaky toilet:

Toilet leaks can range from small to large, constant to random, and many are silent. Even the smallest, silent leak can waste hundreds of dollars per year in water and sewer costs. Large leaks waste much more. Good news is that it is easier than you may think to fix a toilet leak.

1. 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 a few drops of food coloring to the tank water. Do not use any other type of dye – it could permanently stain your toilet bowl. Replace tank lid.

2. 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 large enough 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 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.

Should you have additional questions about your usage?  Please contact Pea Ridge Water Utilities at (479) 451-1109

This information is provided as a public service of the City of Pea Ridge Water Utilities. Any action by a water customer as a result of this information is the sole responsibility of the customer. PRWU recommends using a Licensed Master Plumber. A Licensed Plumber will know the appropriate steps to take to eliminate the problem.

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