High Usage and Leaks
Chesterfield Utilities offers a residential companion meter for water and wastewater customers to measure outside water use separately. View additional information...
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. 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/wastewater utility bill. In this case a customer may complete a water and wastewater leak adjustment request. For water and wastewater leak adjustment information.
How to Locate and Stop Costly Water Leaks
Water leaks are a waste of a valuable resource: pure, clean drinking water. An undetected leak may result in a costly utility bill.
The Chesterfield County Department of 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.
Download the How to Locate and Stop Costly Water Leaks (PDF).
Signs of a Water Leak
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.
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.
Locate Leaks Inside the Home
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.