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Top photo courtesy of Lance Nix

Water Leaks - How to Find Them and How to Fix Them

Unseen or unfixed, they can drip hundreds and thousands of gallons of water down the drain. A little detective work twice a year can catch these water thieves and put them out of circulation.

Photo courtesy of Lance Nix
Water Leak


Read Your Meter:

Your water meter is located outside near your property line, in a concrete box with a cover. Lift up the cover - you may need to clean out dirt inside the box. Be sure that none of the water fixtures in your home are in use and look at the meter. If the dial is moving at all, water is running in your home. If that's the case, turn off your toilets one at a time and check the meter after each turn-off. If a toilet is leaking, this process will allow you to pinpoint the source. If the dial continues to move even after all the toilets are off, you should double check your faucets and hose bibs. Take a reading before retiring at night. Do not use any water during the night. Read your meter again in the morning. If the readings match, there is no leak.

Water Bill

Always review your water bill carefully. Large amounts of usage may indicate a leak. If excess usage is extreme, the city will contact you to check for a leak...though we seriously suggest residents pay attention to their bills. If one looks unreasonable, call us. We're hapy to check things out at no charge.


Worn washers in household faucets and showerheads should be checked periodically. Faucet leaks are usually caused by worn washers or "O" rings, for washerless faucets.

Repairing faucet leaks is easy" All you have to do is turn off the water supply line to that faucet, replace the washer and turn on the line again. Any good do-it-yourself book will offer advice on this simple task. If you're not a do-it-yourselfer, have the work done by someone who knows how to do the job.

Pinhole Leaks in Copper Pipes

Historically, copper has been one of the more commonly installed piping materials for water service in homes, however, pinhole leaks in copper can occur anywhere.

Manufacturing, type of piping (thickness), installation, bacteria, temperature, electrical currents, interior surface condition of pipes, velocity of water, changes in water direction (elbows, tees), the water supply system, and corrosiveness of the water...all can help create pinholes. The city is adding corrosion control at the water treatment plant to prevent interaction of the interior surface of the pipes with our water.


The biggest single cause of high water bills is a leaking toilet: Research shows that a leaky toilet can waste 200 gallons of water per day, which could translate into $75.48 per billing cycle on your water and wastewater bill.

Here’s how to see if yours is leaking:

1. Put a dye tablet or several drops of food coloring in the toilet tank. Wait 15 minutes (do not flush the toilet during this time). If colored water appears in the toilet bowl, there is a leak from the tank into the bowl.

Check the flush valve ball. It may be worn and need replacement.

If the flush valve ball isn’t worn, check to see if it fits into the flush valve
snugly. The valve may need cleaning. Then, if the ball still won’t seat
properly, straighten the guidewire and make sure it’s not catching on

2. Sprinkle a small amount of talcum powder on top of the water in the tank. If this powder moves toward the overflow tube you probably have an overflow leak.

Gently bend the float arm down to shut off the valve before water spills
into the tube, or replace the float valve.

If your toilet won’t shut off, or whistles or whines after adjusting the
float ball, you may need a new ballcock assembly.

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555 W. 20th St
PO Box 310
Port Orford, OR 97465
877.281.5307 FX
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