High Bill? Check for Leaks

High bills usually mean a leak, and potentially hundreds of gallons of water down the drain.

Not only is your water wasted, but it registers through your meter and could cost you as much as several hundred dollars a month.

  • Dripping Faucet: Consumes 15 gallons a day, or 60 cubic feet per month
  • Running Toilet: May consume up to 12 gallons a minute. Toilet leaks are the most common cause of high bill issues.
  • Underground Sprinkler System Issues:  Breaks in underground sprinkler pipes or damage sprinkler heads consume large amounts of water. Improperly timed sprinklers water excessively and waste water while increasing bills
  • Sump Pump with Water Operated Backup: Sump Pumps with water operated backups can become stuck in the backup mode after a power outage or develop a leak that will be discharged via the sump pump and not result in an obvious accumulation of water on the floor.  A sump pump running excessively is the sink of a problem

Please note: the excess water use, identification and repair of leaks within your private plumbing system, as well as the associated costs, are the responsibility of the property owner. If you are unable to find and repair leaks by following the steps below, or are uncomfortable operating shut-off valves, it is strongly recommended you contact a professional plumber.

Step-by-Step Instructions for Checking Water Leaks

Step 1: Check the Leak Indicator on the water meter

  • Your water meter is a Neptune meter and is typically located in the basement, crawl space, utility room, or garage.
  • Ensure no water is actively being used in the house and check the leak indicator on your water meter.  Here are some of the possible appearances for the leak indicator, as shown below.
  • If your meter looks like this, the red triangle is the leak indicator. If it is moving continuously you have a leak and go to Step 2.
  • If your meter looks like this, the red clock dial is the leak indicator. If it is moving continuously you have a leak and go to Step 2. Meter Picture Procoder Meter
  • If your meter looks like this, shine a flashlight to trigger the display.  A faucet image is the consumption indicator. If it is flashing you have intermittent consumption. If it is solid you have a continuous consumption. Proceed to Step 2.Meter Picture Ecoder
  • If your meter looks like this, then a faucet image  is the leak indicator. If the faucet is shown, then you have continuous consumption. Proceed to Step 2.Meter Picture Mach10
  • If your meter looks like this, the red clock dial is the leak indicator. If it is moving continuously you have a leak and go to Step 2.  

Step 2: Checking for private plumbing leaks

If your Leak Detection dial is turning, the next step is to check for private plumbing leaks.

  • Depending on your level of comofort with plumbing and shut-off valves, you may want to call a professional plumber to assist you
  • Check all water-using appliances and fixtures one-by-one checking the leak indicator as you go. Turn-off valves as appropriate to isloate the problem. Appliances and fixtures include clothes washers, dishwashers, ice makers, humidifiers, boilers, irrigation systems, hose bibs, and showers, faucets, and especially toilets.
  • Some Sump Pumps have a water powered back-up that can be triggered during a power failure and use excessive water
  • If the problem is related to a toilet, go to Step 3 for more information
  • Continue until you have isolated the faulty device(s).
  • Make your repairs or have a professional plumber make the repairs.
  • Check the test dial once more to be sure the problem has been resolved.

Step 3: Checking your Toilet(s)

The most common leak in a household is caused by a faulty toilet(s). There are three ways to check for toilet leaks.

  1. Check the bowl for ripples.

  • Flush the toilet and wait five (5) minutes.
  • Check the water in the bowl for ripples.
  1. Perform a dye test.
  • Simply put a few drops of food coloring in the tank or pick up a free dye tab from Livingston Water Department at the Town Hall
  • Check the bowl in one hour 
  • Check if colored water is getting into the bowl.

If you see ripples in the bowl or if colored water is getting into the bowl, you likely have an “improper seating leak.”

This problem can be corrected, depending on the cause, by:

  • Tightening a loose handle; straightening the control arm if it is rubbing; replacing a sticking rod guide or ball rod; cleaning a corroded valve seat; or replacing a faulty tank ball
  1. Check the tank.
  • Remove the top of the tank.
  • Find the overflow tube in the center of the tank.
  • Check the water level. It should be about one (1) inch below the top of the overflow.

If the water is above the overflow, you likely have a “continuous overflow leak or

This problem can be corrected, depending on the cause, by:

  • Bending the end of the float ball rod down; replacing a float ball which has filled with water; or replacing a faulty or corroded float ball shut-off valve.