Frequently Asked Questions
Leaks are a common cause of higher consumption than normal and higher than expected water bills. They can be along the service line from the meter to the residence or in the house. Your water meter may be your most useful tool in identifying water leaks on your property. Below are some directions on how to use your meter to check for a leak.
- Make sure no water is being used inside or outside of your house.
- Check your meter. Your meter screen is activated by sunlight or flashlight. The screen will flash between the “Reading” and “Rate" screens.
- The “Reading” is all water that has passed through the meter in its lifetime – measured in cubic feet. This is the reading used for billing purposes, except that the District bills in hundred cubic feet (we move the decimal point 2 digits to the left). You can calculate how much water is used in a given period by recording the reading at the beginning of the period and at the end of the period.
- The “Rate” is the amount of water (in gal /min) that is passing thru the meter at that moment. The ”Rate” can be used for leak detection: if all water in the house is shut off and a rate is observed, this means that water is flowing through the meter. Since all water is shut off, there must be leaking somewhere in your system.
- There is a leak indictor faucet icon built into your meter that will either be flashing or on continuously if a leak has been detected. The flashing faucet indicates an intermittent leak occurrence over the past 24 hrs. The solid faucet indicates a continuous leak occurrence over the last 24 hours. Check the last digit on your screen to see if it is incrementing.
- After you have determined that you have a leak, the next step is to determine if the leak is inside or outside of your house.
- Locate your home's main shut off valve and shut off the water at the valve. Typically, you will find the shut off valve in the basement or garage directly behind an outdoor faucet, or outside below an outdoor faucet.
- Again, check the leak indicator or use the meter reading method, making sure not to use any water during this period. If the leak indicator stops moving or there is no change in the meter readings, then you have a leak inside of the house. If the leak indicator continues to move or there is a change in the meter readings, then the leak is outside between the meter and the house.
Who is responsible for the leak?
The District’s responsibility, as far as the water distribution system is concerned, ends at the water meter. The customer owns the service line from the meter to the residence. Repair of leaks along the service line or in the house are the customer’s responsibility.
Will I be notified if I have a leak?
The District makes every effort to notify customers that a leak may be present. District Staff is “flagged” when current usage is 200% of the previous usage when the read is reviewed. However, leaks that increase slowly over time may never trigger the 200% usage flag. Therefore, notification of a potential leak by the District is considered a courtesy, and not a requirement. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the homeowner to determine if their higher usage is due to a leak.
Can I get an adjustment for my water bill?
Since our community’s water supply is limited and using it efficiently is of prime importance, we urge customers to repair all leaks promptly. To support our customers in this endeavor, the District offers a one-time leak adjustment. Leak adjustments are applied to one billing period (two months). However, if the same leak extends into a second billing period, a second leak adjustment can be considered. In no instance will a leak period longer than two billing periods (four months) be considered for adjustment.
How long do I have to repair my leak?
To qualify for the leak adjustment, leaks must be repaired within 30 days from the District’s leak notification or 30 days from the time the customer detects the leak. Leaks may impact two billing periods. If the SAME leak impacts two billing cycles, (four-month period) a leak adjustment covering all four months is available.
What type of leak qualifies for an adjustment?
Leak adjustments are for leaks in the service line only (from the meter to the house). Leak adjustments do not include irrigation/sprinkler systems, running toilets, faucets, water heaters, hoses, or other above-ground or in the home systems.
How often can I get a leak adjustment?
The owner is eligible for a one-time leak adjustment during the life of the user’s service line. A new owner is eligible for a one-time leak adjustment on the same service line the previous owner received. Although, if a second leak is discovered and the owner replaces the total service line (meter to the house) a second adjustment can be considered once documentation or inspection by the District verifies the replacement. Please note, consideration to approve additional leak adjustments is on a case-by-case basis and is at the sole discretion of the General Manager.
How do I qualify for a leak adjustment?
To be eligible for the leak adjustment, a customer’s usage must be at least $50 above an average bill. To initiate the process, the customer must complete the online District's Leak Adjustment Request form or print the PDF version. Copies of receipt(s) from the plumber or contractor’s work and materials used in the repair must be submitted along with the Leak Adjustment Request form. Once the District office has received the request form, our Field staff will verify that work has been completed and the service line is no longer leaking.
How is a leak adjustment calculated?
The leak adjustment is calculated by collecting the previous three-year consumption history (or the number of years of history available up to three years). This billing history is used to calculate an "average water usage" for the same billing period during the previous years. The average water usage figure is then deducted from the leak water bill usage. Next, the cost of additional water purchased from Seattle Public Utilities is determined. Credit is calculated that is equal to the amount billed, less both the customer’s average consumption and the cost of additional water purchased by the District. The leak adjustment is then applied to the customer’s current bill, and a copy of the adjustment is sent to the customer.
Where do I start?
The first step is to find a plumber or contractor that can help you identify and fix the leak or plan to fix the leak yourself. The District encourages customers to call more than one contractor to get competitive quotes.
What if I have more questions?
Stop by the office Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., call (425) 255-9600 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.