Finding Leaks

Where’s your emergency shut-off?

If a water pipe broke in your home, could you quickly find the shut-off valve? Know where it’s located before you have an emergency. It should be in or near your house. Look in the following places:

  • In the basement or crawl space, where the water line enters the home.
  • In the garage where the water line enters the wall or ceiling, near the water heater or laundry hookup.
  • Outside near the foundation, often protected by a concrete ring or clay pipe.

Locating Smaller Leaks

Undetected leaks can be costly. Even one small drip in a faucet can waste more than 60,000 gallons of water each year. Figuring out if you have a leak is as easy as reading your water meter:

  1. Turn off all faucets and water-using appliances, such as the dish and clothes washers.
  2. Locate your water meter (see below) and lift the cover for the meter dial.
  3. Most meters have a red “telltale” indicator. If you see it moving when all the water is turned off, you probably have a leak.

    If your meter doesn’t have a telltale:
  4. Read and write down the entire reading (all numbers).
  5. Wait 30-60 minutes, without using any water. Check the reading again. If the reading has changed, you probably have a leak somewhere in your plumbing system.

To find your water meter

If your water meter is inside your house, you’ll usually find it in your basement, crawl space or utility room. If it’s outside, look for a covered “pit” in front of your house, set flush to the ground.

Reading your meter

Reading your meter is like reading the odometer of a car. Read the numbers from left to right that appear under or over the words "Cubic Feet" or “Gallons”:

  • The first number on the right represents one cubic foot or gallon.
  • The second number from the right represents 10 cubic feet, or 10 gallons.
  • The third from the number (usually a different color) represents 100 cubic feet (or one "CCF"), or 1,000 gallons (one “kgal”).

One revolution of the meter sweep-hand (the arm that goes around in a circle) equals one cubic foot or 7.48 gallons. Though some meters register in gallons, Aquarion bills in units of 100 cubic feet, or CCFs, which equal 748 gallons.

Looking for leaks

Here’s a checklist of the places you should look for drips or moisture that indicates a plumbing leak:



Sink faucet and spray hose


 Refrigerator (including icemaker)

Bathrooms and lavatories


Bathtub faucets


Sink faucets



Laundry rooms, utility rooms and basements

Washing machine

Water softener


Hot water tank


Utility sink

Pipes and shut-offs



Garden hose and connections

Lawn sprinkler system

Swimming pool

Hot tub or spa

Ponds and fountains


Check toilets for leaks by dropping a little food coloring into the tank. Wait about 10 minutes without flushing. If color appears in the bowl, you have a leak and probably need to replace internal parts.

Check for moist spots around and under the house plumbing and around outdoor plumbing. You may need to call a plumber to repair those leaks, which, besides wasting water, can also damage floors, walls and ceilings.

Responsibility for Leaks

If a leak occurs on the property side of the meter, the property owner is responsible for the leak charges and repair costs. If you have checked for leaks and yet the dials are still turning, you may have a hidden leak in an underground pipe. Contact a reputable plumber for additional help and service. If you have purchased a water line protection plan such as Homeowner Safety Valve or AAA’s plan, contact the service provider for service. Learn more about Homeowner Safety Valve.