Read Your Water Meter and Identify Leaks

Common Indoor Leaks

  1. Toilets
  2. Water Heaters

Toilet leaks are the number one cause of high water bills.  The leak may be caused by a failing flapper, plunger ball, float ball or fill valve.  

  1. Remove the tank lid. Carefully remove the tank lid and lay it flat on the floor to prevent it from falling over and breaking.  Condensation on the underside of the tank lid may drip as you are removing the lid.
  2. Check the water level in the tank. If the water level is above the manufacturers indicated water line, make adjustments to correct the water level.  If adjustments were made, reset the toilet by flushing it and allowing the tank to refill and stop on its own.
  3. Drop a dye tablet (available for free at City Hall) or several drops of food dye into the tank. Do NOT flush. Wait 15 minutes. If you have more than one toilet to test, repeat Steps 1 through 3 for each toilet while you wait.
  4. Check the water in the bowl for color. If the color appears in the bowl, there is a leak. (After checking, be sure to flush to avoid staining the tank.)

Replacing the toilet’s flapper valve will likely stop the leak. To ensure proper flush performance, be sure the replacement flapper meets the toilet manufacturers specifications for your toilet model. Tip: Bring the old flapper to the hardware store for comparison to make sure you buy a new flapper that fits your toilet model.

To better determine the cause of the leak, turn off the toilet’s water supply (usually it has a diamond-shaped handle near the wall at the base of the toilet) and mark the water level inside the tank. Wait 15 minutes and then check the water level. If it has dropped below your mark, the problem is at the bottom of the toilet tank at the flapper or plunger ball. If the water level has stayed the same, the problem is an overflow near the top of the tank involving the float ball or fill valve.

Please note: If you are not comfortable or familiar with this appliance, we recommend contacting a professional.

Common Outdoor Leaks

  1. Irrigation Systems
  2. Swimming Pools

Check for overly green or soggy spots, where broken spray heads, bubblers, and underground pipe cracks will be obvious. Also check the valve boxes for standing water inside the box. Buried pipes, hoses, or drip lines leaking into sandy, porous soil may not show up as clearly. Automatic sprinkler and drip systems that generate a hissing sound are also likely leaking. 

Remember to check drip systems for damage from foot traffic, gnawing pets and pests, or missing emitters. Leaky hoses can be repaired with waterproof tape. Dribbling spray nozzle connection? Wrap the hose threads with Teflon tape.

Check out the Do-It-Yourself Toolkit from the Library for free materials to help fix your leak. If you need help, hire a Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper, who has been trained in efficient irrigation principles and sustainable landscaping practices.

Read Your Water Meter

  1. Locate Your Meter
  2. Read Your Meter
  3. Identifying a Leak
  4. Determine Leak Location

All Healdsburg customers have a meter that measures their water use. Meters are usually in the ground by the street under a cement, steel, or concrete cover marked "WATER". 

  • You will need a tool in order to access the meter, a large screwdriver or a pair of pliers will suffice.
  • When removing the cover, visually examine the area around the meter to make sure there are no harmful insects or other animals.
  • Set the cover to the side, then flip open the hinged lid of the meter.


  • If you notice any breaks or large cracks in the meter lid or the meter, please contact the Utility Hotline at (707) 431-7000.
  • Do not operate the City valve inside the meter box. Contact the Utility Hotline at (707) 431-7000 if you need assistance.

High Bills

The average household's leaks can account for nearly 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year, resulting in high water usage and high water costs. The City offers a water leak adjustment for residents that fix their leaks. Visit the FAQs on how to get a credit issued for a fixed leak.


If you have questions about your meter or water service, please call 707-431-3307 or email