Have you looked at your water bill and thought, “Wow, there’s no way I used that much water.”

You think the problem might be a plumbing leak, but you don’t see any leaks in the usual places.

If that’s the case, the problem is probably a hidden leak somewhere in your home. These leaks are costly and destructive (e.g., a leaking pipe in your home’s walls can cause thousands of dollars in water damage).

So how can you discover if you have these harmful leaks?

Easy, just use your water meter. Here’s the easy step-by-step way to do it:

Step 1) Turn off all water-using appliances in your home

Make sure that you are not using any water in your home, otherwise you’ll get inaccurate results.

Make sure that you’ve shut off your:

  • Dishwasher
  • Washing machine
  • Sprinklers and other irrigation systems (double-check that you don’t have these scheduled to go off if you have an automatic system)

For convenience's sake, the best time to do this step is when no one is home or everyone is sleeping.

Step 2) Locate your water meter and record the number

Find your water meter, which is typically located on the side of your home or in a concrete box in the corner of your front yard with a lid on top.

Once you’ve found it, look at the numbers (this is the number of gallons you’ve used), and write them down or take a picture (camera phones are handy here).

Step 3) Don’t use water for at least three hours

Now you sit down and wait for 3 hours. Don’t move. OK, just kidding. You can do what you want, but make sure no one uses any water for 3 hours from when you recorded your water meter.

Step 4) Check your water meter again

After three hours have passed, check your water meter again.

If the number has increased since you last checked it, that means you’ve got water leaking somewhere. And if you didn’t find any leaks from your faucets, toilets or other water-using appliances, that means you’ve probably got a hidden leak somewhere in your home.

In that case, you’ll need a professional plumber to locate the leak and fix it for you.

If you found this article helpful, check out our other do-it-yourself tips, FAQs, and blog posts.

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