How to detect leaks

Water is one of the most precious resources around. Yet, costly leaks account for about 1 trillion gallons of water wasted in the United States each year. Here's how you can help detect leaks:

Water meter check

One of the best ways to check for leaks is by checking your water meter. If you do not know where your meter is located you can call the City of Vancouver's Utility Services at 360-487-7999. Here's how to check using the meter:

  • First, make sure no water is being used inside or outside of your home.
  • Next, look at your water meter to see what is happening with the meter's flow indicator -- typically shown as a star, triangle or sweeping hand. If the flow indicator is spinning, you probably have a leak.
Locating leaks

Follow these next steps to help locate the source of a plumbing leak:

1. Find the main water shutoff valve for your home or building and turn off the water by closing the valve. Then open a tap for a few minutes to verify that the water is off.

2. With the valve closed, check the water meter.

  • If the flow indicator is not spinning, which means no water is moving through the meter, then the leak is likely to be inside of your home or business facility. 
  • If flow indicator is spinning, which means water is moving through the meter despite your main valve being closed, the leak may be in your water line between the meter and the valve, or in an irrigation system. Look for any unusual vegetation growth or moist areas in the lawn or landscaping. Typically, such leaks occur at joints near the meter box or where water lines enter a building.
Leaky toilet?
  • Put a few drops of food color or a dye tablet into the upper water tank of the toilet.
  • Wait for 30 minutes, and do not use or flush in the meantime.
  • Watch for any color to appear in the toilet bowl. Color in the bowl indicates there is a leak.

If you have questions about water leaks, please call 360-487-7999 to speak with a Utility customer service representative.

Remember: Call before you dig! For free Utility location service, call 1-800-424-5555.If necessary, contact a licensed plumber to help fix any leaks you detect.