Water Leaks

High Bill

If your bill is higher than usual you might want to check the following account information utilizing the account management features of PayOnline.

Check the number of days in billing cycle. Did the high bill have more days in the billing cycle than usual? If so, does this account for the additional consumption? Billing cycles can vary up to 10 days, if a short cycle is followed by a long cycle, the bill will be higher. Check your average daily consumption on PayOnline.

Check your consumption not only with the previous month but with the same month from the previous year. Did your consumption increase last year as well? Have you started watering your yard, washing your car, etc.? If so, does this account for the additional consumption?

Consumption should range between 1,500-3,000 gallons per person per month. How many people live in the home? Have you had company? Does this calculate?
If the increase in consumption is still undetermined, you most likely have a leak in your plumbing and/or fixtures. Water leaks can be deceptively wasteful and difficult to detect.

Most Frequent Plumbing Leaks

Not all leaks are as obvious as a dripping faucet. If you hear water running in your home when no water is in use or if your water usage is suddenly higher than expected, you most likely have a water leak. Use the steps below to find out if there is a leak on your property and where it is.

Toilets are the most common source of a leak. Your toilet is the biggest user of water in the house, leaks here will be expensive and can be hard to detect. The toilet least used is usually the problem toilet. Check the following areas:

If it is at the overflow pipe, the water level is usually too high. To correct this problem, gently bend the float arm down so the valve shuts off water about a half-inch below the top of the overflow pipe. The tank water level should be at the level line on inside of tank.

Worn fill valves waste water the same as a dripping faucet. Consult a plumber if you are not an experienced do-it-yourselfer.

Plunger ball leaks are more difficult to detect than overflow pipe leaks. The best way to check a plunger ball leak is by putting food coloring or dye tablets in the tank and letting it stand a minimum of one hour, preferably overnight. If the coloring is in the bowl the next morning the toilet is leaking. The plunger ball is probably leaking from either worn parts or a misaligned mechanism. A do-it-yourselfer should be able fix this problem.

Another possible cause for leaky toilets is irregular mineral deposits between the flapper and drain lip. This problem is easily solved by shutting off the water supply, flushing the toilet, sponging the tank dry and sanding off the drain lip mineral deposits with emery paper. Finally, check the flapper to ensure that it closes and seals the drain successfully.

If you have to jiggle the handle to get the toilet to stop running, check the lift chain to make sure is isn't hung up on something or has a kink in it.

Check the flapper or flush valve to make sure it is re-seating; if it is corroded or worn out it should be replaced.

If your toilet continues to leak, it may be time to call a plumber.

Worn washers are the second most common cause of household leaks. If any faucet drips after it has been turned off firmly, usually the washer is worn and needs to be replaced. A leaky faucet can waste up to 20 gallons of water a day and if it is leaking hot water, it's costing you money to heat the water too! Replacing a washer involves shutting off the water supply, dismantling the faucet and making absolutely sure that the replacement washer is the right size. Usually, this is not difficult; however, some faucet designs do present a challenge. Consult your favorite hardware store or do-it-yourself book. If the faucet still leaks after you've replaced the washer, consult with a plumber.

Pinpointing Hard to Detect Leaks

All Topeka water meters have a red triangle located at the nine o’clock position on the face of the meter register, known as the test hand. It moves counter clockwise when water is running through the meter.

Turn all the water off in the house. Lift the meter box lid and observe the test hand on the meter. If it is moving there is a leak in the plumbing, such as the service line, indoor plumbing or a faulty water using appliance.

Turn the house master valve off. Observe the test hand. If meter test hand is moving, there is a leak is between the meter and the house: on the service line, a sprinkler system, etc. Turn off the irrigation system, if the test hand stops moving, the leak is on the irrigation system, if it doesn't it is on the service line (between the meter box and house master valve). There may be a soft area or standing water over where the service line is leaking.

Inside the house leaks can be isolated by turning off fixtures and appliances one by one, checking the meter after you turn each one off. If the test hand is still moving when you check the meter, you haven't found the leak yet. Items to turn off include:

  • Toilets, which can be turned off at the base
  • Faucets, which can be turned off below the sink
  • Water softeners/filtration systems, swamp coolers, ice makers/machines, automated watering systems for animals, fountains with automatic fill features and reverse osmosis units, all of which have a bypass valve that lets water bypass the unit

If you've found your leak, you may be able to fix it yourself. Repairs to toilets and faucets can be fairly simple, while other leaks may need a professional plumber. Don't get in over your head. If you're not sure that you can fix it, call a professional.