High Bills, Leaks and Water Pressure Issues
If your water bill is higher than normal, you might want to consider the following possibilities to help you determine the cause before you give us a call.
- Landscape Watering The majority of significant increases in water use happen during the summer with increased landscaping water. In fact, nearly 50 percent of residential water use is outdoors especially in warmer weather if you’re watering grass. Check out our “water conservation tips” to help you use water wisely.
- Pool or Pond A swimming pool or large pond can lose thousands of gallons of water a year due to evaporation. Invest in a pool cover to help reduce water loss. If you’re filling your pool several times a week, you may want to test for a leak. A “bucket test” is a simple way to find out if your pool or pond has a leak.
- Do You Have a Leak? If your bill has increased suddenly, even though you haven’t changed your water use at home, you may have a leak. To learn how to check for a leak, check out our “Finding a Leak” section below for helpful information.
Water leaks can occur both inside your home and outdoors. SMWC is responsible for maintenance and repairs to the water system from the street to your water meter. The customer is responsible for any necessary repairs beyond the water meter away from the street. SMWC is not able to check for or repair leaks on a customer’s property. Common causes inside your home can include leaking toilets, dripping faucets or showers and leaking water pipes. A few examples of leaks outdoors include leaking sprinkler heads or valves, leaking hose bibs and service line leaks. Finding and fixing leaks in and around your home will not only conserve water but save you money as well.
Finding a Leak
Follow these tips to find leaks inside or outside your home:
- Turn off faucets and appliances that use water. Make sure no water is being used inside or outside of your home. Make sure faucets and hose bibs are shut off. Also, make sure appliances that use water are not operating. For example, ice makers, washing machines, water purifiers, evaporative coolers, dishwashers, and hot water heaters.
- Locate your water meter. Most residential water meters are located in a plastic or cement box in the front of the house near the street or sidewalk. Open the meter box lid. You may need to use a screwdriver to accomplish this. Open the plastic flap covering the glass dial. Check the meter for movement. Look at the lower left-hand side of the meter. You’ll notice a red triangle called a flow indicator. The red triangle (flow indicator) will move whenever water is passing through the meter. If your meter doesn’t have a flow indicator, you can use the sweep hand on the register to indicate water movement. If either the flow indicator or the sweep hand is moving and all water has been turned off both inside and outside your home, you may have a leak.
- Check Your Toilets. The most common cause of leaks are toilets. Turn off the water valve feeding your toilet tank. Check the red flow-indicator triangle at the water meter. If the flow indicator stopped moving, the toilet has a leak. Replacing worn rubber toilet flappers usually corrects the problem. To test for a toilet leak, place a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If the color shows up in the bowl within 5 minutes without flushing, the flapper is leaking.
- Check Your Irrigation System. Shut off the anti-siphon valve that serves your sprinkler system. Check the red flow-indicator triangle at the water meter. If the flow indicator stopped moving, the sprinkler system is the problem.
- Check water softeners, evaporative coolers, ice machines and water purification systems. Many of these appliances have a bypass lever. Turn the lever to allow water to bypass the appliance. Check the red flow-indicator triangle at the meter. If the triangle is no longer moving, you have isolated the leak to your appliance.
- Check Your Pool. If you’re filling your pool several times a week, you may want to test for a leak. A “bucket test” is a simple way to find out if your pool or pond has a leak.
- Check Your Main Service Line. Locate your water shutoff valve for the inside of you house. Shut off the valve, cutting off all water to your home, and go in the house and turn on a faucet to make sure the water is off. Check the red flow-indicator triangle at the meter. If the red triangle is moving, the leak is between the shutoff valve and the water meter.
- What’s Next? Be sure to close the water meter cap to prevent damage to the lens and replace the meter box lid. If you are not able to find the leak, call a professional plumber to locate and fix the leak(s). If you find a simple leak like your toilet flapper or kitchen faucet, you may want to fix the problem yourself.
Turning Off Your Water
Water to your property can be shut off to detect leaks and make repairs in two ways. A “house valve” shuts off water to the inside of the home. It is often located on the riser where water enters the house. A “customer valve” shuts off water to both the inside and outside of the home. It is often located on the customer side of the water meter on the side closest to your house.
Please do not try to operate the valve on the water company’s side of your meter (the side closest to the street). This valve is for water company use only. Damage to this value will result in the customer being billed for repairs.
If you need assistance in turning off your water at the meter, please contact us at (909)795-2401
Water Pressure Issues
If you are experiencing a problem with the water pressure at your property, whether it is lower than usual, higher than normal or fluctuating, there are a few things that you can check yourself before calling us.
Low Water Pressure
- Check Your House Valve. Make sure the valve supplying water to your house is in the fully “on” position. If the house valve is partially in the “off” position water flow to your home will be restricted.
- Check Your Customer-Side Valve. The customer side valve is located in your meter box on the side closest to your home. Please do not try to operate the valve on the water company’s side of your meter (the side closest to the street). This valve is for water company use only. Make sure the customer valve is fully open. The handle is generally parallel with the water line when it is in the “on” position.
- Check Your Pressure Regulator. Your pressure regulator may need to be adjusted or serviced to restore normal water pressure to your home. Pressure regulators should be adjusted carefully. Incorrectly adjusting the regulator can result in water pressure that is too high or too low. Water pressure that is too high can cause damage household appliances. We recommend a qualified plumber make adjustments or repairs to your regulator.
- Water Softener. Customers may notice a decrease in the water pressure after having their water softener serviced. Please check to make sure the service person fully reopened the valve when the service or repairs were completed.
- Backflow Prevention Device. Customers with a backflow prevention device may notice a small decrease in water pressure.
- Check for Leaks. Low water pressure can also be caused by an undetected leak. To detect a possible leak see our “Finding a Leak” section above.
- Check for Mineral Deposits. If you are experiencing low pressure from one of the faucets in your home it may be due to mineral deposits. Mineral deposits from hard water can clog the aerators on faucets and shower heads. You can restore the water pressure by cleaning the aerators.
High Water Pressure
SMWC’s service area is divided into several pressure zones. Our reservoirs are located at a higher elevation than the area it serves so water can flow by gravity. Homes that are at the lowest elevation from the reservoir will have higher pressure. In higher pressure areas customers can adjust or install a pressure regulator to reduce the water pressure coming into their home. If your water pressure is high your pressure regulator may need to be adjusted or serviced. We recommend a qualified plumber make adjustments to your pressure regulator since incorrectly adjusting the pressure regulator can damage household appliances.
How do I know if I have a pressure regulator?
Many homes are equipped with a pressure regulator. Pressure regulators are bell shaped devices that are usually located on the inlet pipe next to your hose bib and house valve. They may also be located in the ground at or near your water mater. Pressure regulators are used to adjust the water pressure to an appropriate pressure for your home. Pressure regulators cannot increase the pressure beyond what is supplied by SMWC in your pressure zones.
If you are still experiencing water pressure issues after troubleshooting these areas, please contact SMWC at (909) 795-2401.