Checking Your Meter for Mysterious Leaks

meter with notes

When water is not being used, nothing on the meter should be moving. Most meters also have a fine flow indicator that senses the lower volumes of water common with leaks. The fine flow indicator is usually a small triangle or diamond on the face of the meter. Follow these steps to use your meter to help find leaks.

Turn off all inside and outside water faucets.

Check the meter. Watch for 10 minutes. If the fine flow indicator moves clockwise, then leaks exist on your property and need to be located. In some cases, it may move back and forth slightly as water pressure in the street fluctuates. Check the main meter reading (numbers) including the location of the sweep hand, and come back an hour later after you know no water has been used. If there is a higher reading, there is a leak.

Locate the source of the leaks.


Add food coloring or a dye tablet to water in the tank, but don’t flush. If coloring appears in the bowl, your toilet is leaking.

Learn to repair your own faucets, so that drips can be repaired promptly. It’s easy, costs very little and can help you save money in plumbing and your water bill.

Walk around your property to check for the following: green patchy areas, moist areas or saturated areas on the ground. It is essential to check sprinkler valves, heads and the main line.

Check the following valves for leaks: cut-off valves, sprinkler valves and valves under sinks.

Look for standing water near water heater.

Make sure your water softener works properly. Refer to the owner’s manual or contact someone to verify if softener needs to be serviced.

Check these areas: ceiling, between walls and around the slab. If your walls, floor or ceiling have stains, mildew or moisture, you may have a water leak.

Check to see if icemaker is dripping or look for water stains on the floor. Make sure icemaker is connected properly.


Your water meter tells you how much water you are using each month. You can monitor your meter yourself to check for leaks in your water system.


Meter cover

Water meters are located underground beneath a round or oval lid. Your meter may be found in a variety of locations. The most common place is between the hose bib (faucet) at the front of your house in a direct line to the street. If the house is on a corner lot, the meter could be on the side of the house. Alley locations are common in certain parts of the city as well. Remember, this is South Texas so watch for spiders and ants when opening the lid.

Your water meter has a glass face with a sweep hand and a series of numbers similar to an odometer on a vehicle. When the sweep hand makes one complete circle, then the last number in the series turns over (this represents 1 cubic foot of water or 7.48 gallons). Your water is billed in 100 cubic foot increments and that is the number (consumption) that will be reflected on your monthly bill.

Read your meter from left to right. The numbers to the right with a black background are not used in the calculation and should be disregarded. Subtract the previous meter reading (for this example, 585) from your current reading (for this example, 600). The result indicates the amount of water used (in hundreds of cubic feet) since the last meter reading. To convert this usage to gallons, multiply by 748.1.


SAWS is responsible for maintaining the water line from the main to the water meter. You are responsible for repairs to any part of the water system from the meter toward your home. If you find a leak, please have it repaired to minimize water loss and any impact to your bill. Then, if you submit your repair receipts, we can review your account for a possible adjustment.


Request a Leak Repair Adjustment