Checking Your Meter / Testing For Leaks

High Water Consumption

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The City of Bismarck encourages City residents to be aware of their water consumption, in order to assist with water conservation practices.  Water Analytics shows residents their water usage by year, month, day and down to the hour.

 Water consumption may be high for many reasons.
  1. More people may be living in the household.
  2. During the summer, water consumption may be higher due to outside watering of a lawn or garden, or an outside faucet may be left on.
  3. Most often an unexplained increase in usage is caused by leaky plumbing - toilets, sinks, outside sprinklers, washers, hot water heaters, etc. Toilet leaks are the most common and are hard to see or hear. A leaky toilet can waste 800 cubic feet of water per day

Water Usage for Everyday Tasks

Never underestimate the amount of water that is consumed for normal, everyday tasks around the home. Here are some average water consumption amounts for routine household tasks:
  • Shower - 25-50 gallons (5-10 gallons/minute)
  • Bath - 36 gallons (full tub)
  • Toilet flush - 5-7 gallons
  • Dish washing - 20 gallons (tap running)
  • Automatic dishwasher - 12 gallons (full cycle)
  • Clothes washer - 30-60 gallons (full cycle)
  • Outdoor watering - 5-10 gallons per minute

How to Read Your Water Meter 

You will need an LED flashlight to read your meter. Shine your LED flashlight on the top rectangular window. As you shine your LED flashlight on the top window the bottom rectangular display panel will alternate between the meter reading and the rate of flow every six seconds. The meter reading will display nine digits and look like the following:
  • On a 5/8”, ¾” or 1” Meter the reading will look like 000000.000 (bold digits indicate current meter reading)
  • On a 1 ½” & 2” Meter the reading will look like 0000000.00 (bold digits indicate current meter reading)
  • You are billed per unit. 1 unit = 100 cubic feet =748 gallons

Water Meter

Water meter

Testing Your Water Meter 

Some customers feel a water meter not working properly causes their high water bills. To test the accuracy of your meter, use the following procedure.

  • Run water until the last three digits on your meter reading are all zeros. 
  • Fill a one-gallon container with water. 
  • The last three digits on your meter should read .133 or .134 cubic feet.

Checking for Leaks

The rate indicator “RATE” that flashes on the display panel shows the rate of water flow measured in cubic feet per minute. If no one in the home is drawing water and you have all zeros showing on the rate that would indicate you have no water going through the meter at that time. If there are numbers other than zero this would indicate you have water flowing through the meter. If you have water flow and you are not using water you will need to check all your plumbing fixtures, i.e., toilets, sinks, outside sprinklers, washer, hot water heaters etc.  You can shut off the valves that supply each fixture, one by one, and check the rate indicator after each shut off.  When closing a valve changes the rate to all zeros, you have found the location of the leak.  There may be more than one leak!  

Be sure to check all toilets at the property! Toilet leaks are the most common and are sometimes hard to see or hear. Put food coloring or something with color in the toilet tank and wait 10-20 minutes. Do not flush the toilet during this time. If the coloring appears in the toilet bowl, there is a toilet leak. Also if you hear the toilet refilling and no one has used it, there is a leak.  A major toilet leak can waste 800 cubic feet of water a day. Repair leaks promptly or leave the valve off until it can be fixed by yourself or a plumber because leaks cost money.

Once a leak is repaired, check the rate indicator again and make sure it is showing zeros. You may have another leak.