High Usage and Leaks
High Usage and Bills
If your water consumption appears to be higher than normal, first check for leaks, especially in toilets, before calling the Utilities Department. Also, take into account the amount of time spent watering lawns or gardens, as this practice uses a significant amount of water. For information about high bills, call 804-748-1291.
Do you irrigate your lawn? Knowing how and when to water helps to keep a yard healthy and costs down! Visit our Water-wise Lawn and Landscape Care page for more information and helpful tips.
Water leaks are a waste of a valuable resource: pure, clean drinking water. An undetected leak may result in a costly utility bill. View how to locate and stop costly water leaks (PDF). Water standing in a yard, water in or around a meter box, or an unusually high bill may indicate a potential water leak. Three steps to find a leak:
- Check the water meter.
- Determine if the leak is in the home or underground.
- Locate the leak in the home.
Utilities is responsible for repairing leaks in the meter box and on the street side of the meter box. When a customer connects to the public water system, a plumber makes a connection to the meter on the house side of the meter box. Leaks at the plumber’s connection, the service line to the house and in all other house plumbing are the customer’s responsibility to repair.
Customers may qualify for a bill adjustment when there is a water line or plumbing leak on the customers’ side of the water meter and it impacts their water or wastewater utility bill. In this case, a customer may complete a water and wastewater leak adjustment request.
Check the Water Meter
The first step in checking the water meter is to make sure no water is being used in the home. If a toilet is being flushed, or a washing machine or dishwasher is being used, this test will not work.
Remove the cover on the meter box and observe the center sweep hand located on the meter register. When water is passing through the meter, the sweep hand will rotate in a clockwise direction. One complete revolution of the sweep hand equals 1 cubic foot of water, or approximately 7.5 gallons. The dial face is divided into 100 increments around the outer edge. Record the location of the sweep hand. Wait 15 minutes and check the sweep hand again. A small leak may take several minutes for the sweep hand to noticeably move. If the sweep hand has not moved, there probably is not a leak.
Newer meters are equipped with leak detectors. This is a red triangle on the register face that will rotate when water is passing through the meter. Movement of the leak detector is more noticeable than the sweep hand when small amounts of water pass through the meter. If either the sweep-hand or leak-detector dials are moving, with no apparent usage of water in the house, you may have a leak.
Determine if the Leak is in the Home or Underground
Locate the master valve. The master valve is usually located under the house in the crawl space or in a basement or utility room. Closing the master valve shuts off the water entering the house. Close the master valve and check the meter. Typically, if the meter has stopped registering, the leak is somewhere in the house. If the meter continues to register with the valve closed, the leak is probably underground between the meter box and the master valve.
Faucets, toilets and outside taps usually have an isolation valve located near the fixture. By closing this valve and observing the meter, the customer can isolate or identify the possible sources of leaks.
A faucet leak is usually due to old or broken interior parts of the valve. In most cases, the entire fixture does not need to be replaced. Replacement washers and valves, available at a local hardware store, may solve this problem.
A toilet leak is the most common and overlooked type of water leak because it is not obvious. Unlike a faucet or spigot leak, a toilet leak cannot be seen. Toilet leaks typically result in a greater waste of water at a higher rate than any other type of leak. To check for toilet leaks, remove the top from the toilet tank and listen for running water. If water is flowing into the overflow tube in the tank, the valve may not be cutting off completely. Adjust the cutoff point or replace the valve. If the flapper valve that closes after the toilet is flushed fails to close, or doesn’t close completely, water will leak from the tank to the bowl. When this happens, the commode tank may refill and stop periodically.
If this is occurring, contact Chesterfield County Utilities customer service at 804-748-1291 for a dye tablet, or put a small amount of food coloring into the tank. Do not flush the toilet. If the water in the bowl changes color after a few minutes, there is probably a leak in the toilet. Check the plunger ball, or the area around it, and the flapper valve at the bottom of the tank. Hardware stores usually carry repair parts for toilets. If you are not comfortable making repairs on a toilet or faucet yourself, you may want to call a plumber of your own choice.
When using water for the yard or to wash a car, ensure there are no leaks at the hose connection. Close the spigot tightly when finished. A dribbling hose in the garden or driveway can lead to a major waste of water and a higher than normal utility bill.
Water and Wastewater Leak Adjustment Request
To be eligible for a leak adjustment, you must repair the leak within 30 days after first learning of the leak and submit the appropriate documentation to Chesterfield Utilities. All adjustment requests are reviewed and adjusted based on county ordinance - section 18-33 on Adjusting Utility Charges.
If you have experienced a leak on your property and it has impacted the amount of your utility bill, complete the water and wastewater leak adjustment request form (PDF) to request an adjustment to your bill. It must be completed in its entirety, including information regarding the initial leak as well a the leak repair. Additionally, please submit a copy of the plumber’s invoice with the form. If self-repaired, please submit sales receipts for any purchased materials.
The leak adjustment form and all documentation can be submitted by emailing Utility bill services, faxing to 804-717-6248 or mailing to:
P.O. Box 608
Chesterfield, VA 23832
All customers requesting a billing adjustment in accordance with these guidelines are required to pay their bill in full or make payment arrangements by contacting Utilities customer service department at 804-748-1291 while this form is being processed.
No Guarantee of Adjustment
Completion of a leak adjustment request does not guarantee an adjustment will be made to your billed amount. All requests are evaluated on average water consumption during the same time over the past three years. Average usage will be compared to the customer’s usage during the leak timeframe to determine excessive usage.
The adjustment for water is based on 50% of the billed consumption in excess of average usage. The adjustment for wastewater is based on 50% of the billed consumption in excess of average usage for an indoor water leak. For an outdoor water leak, wastewater may be adjusted at 100% of the excessive usage. If your account does not have at least three years’ history of water consumption, it may delay our response to your request until we take additional readings to determine your average consumption. Chesterfield Utilities will allow one adjustment in any 18-month period for identified leaks.