How To Find A Hidden Plumbing Leak

Is your water bill higher than it should be? A bill that’s bigger than usual could mean there’s a hidden plumbing leak in your system. The average home loses about 22 gallons of water per day to leaks according to the City of Portland Water Bureau. That adds more than 114 dollars annually to a water bill.

Apollo Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning can help you find and stop leaks, whether they’re hidden or obvious. Our trenchless technology repairs pipes without destroying your yard. And our environmentally friendly fixture installation is the best bet to prevent waste from indoor leaks.


The Environmental Protection Agency estimates leaking plumbing wastes 1 trillion gallons of water each year. The agency marks Fix a Leak Week during March each year to bring awareness to the financial and environmental problems of leaking pipes and fixtures.

Some leaks are obvious. The dripping of a faucet is hard to miss. Other losses are more difficult to find. You’ll need a plumber to fix leaking pipes or replace fixtures, but you can do some sleuthing on your own before you call a professional.

If you suspect your plumbing system has a leak, monitoring the water meter can help with water leak detection in Portland, Oregon.

Water is measured in gallons or by one hundred cubic feet (CCF). One CCF is 748 gallons. If you’re using more than 8 CCF or 5,984 gallons for each person in your household every 3 months, your usage is high. You may have a leak.

Here’s how to check for a hidden plumbing leak using a typical Portland, Oregon water meter.


Water meters are usually in front of a house just beyond the property line. Look near a street, parking strip or sidewalk. Sometimes meters are located in a back alley. Meters are generally in an underground box with a metal cover labeled “WATER METER.”


Remove the lid of the meter box. You may need a wrench or special tool to lift the lid. The lid is heavy. Always replace the lid when you’re finished.

The meter will generally have a sweep hand on a dial, a display showing CCFs or gallons used, and a leak-detection dial. In Portland, one complete sweep of the hand equals one cubic foot. Other municipalities may have different units of measurement.

The leak-detection dial is often a small triangle. When water is running, the dial spins. If there’s a drip, the dial moves slowly.


Turn off all water taps and water-using appliances, both indoors and outdoors. Watch the leak-detector dial on the meter. If the dial is moving, you probably have a leak.

If your meter doesn’t have a leak detector, watch the sweep hand. Movement indicates water is running. To find a slow leak with a sweep hand, keep the water off for an hour or two. Note the position of the hand, and recheck it in a couple of hours.


If the meter indicates you have a leak, you may be able to tell if the leak is inside or outside the house. Find the water main shut-off valve in your house and turn it off. The valve may be in a basement, garage, near a water heater or outdoors near your home’s foundation. Test that the valve worked by trying a faucet.

If the valve doesn’t work, or if your home doesn’t have a main shut off, you won’t be able to determine if the leak is indoors or outdoors. If you were successful in turning off the main valve, look at the meter again.


Apollo Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning will help you with leak detection, pipe repair and fixture installation. Contact us today for a free estimate!

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