Water Leaks and High Bills

To report a water emergency (an open hydrant, a main break, or other EBMUD water-related emergency) call 1-866-40-EBMUD (1-866-403-2683) anytime. 


Checking the Water Meter

To Determine if You Have a Leak

If you have a higher than average water bill, you may have a leak. Leaks can occur in toilets, pipes, faucets, water heaters, ice machines, dishwashers, washing machines, and irrigation systems.

  • Locate your water meter, usually in the ground under a cement cover (with an EBMUD logo) by the street near the curb.
  • Lift the cement cover to the side, then flip open the hinged lid of the meter inside. You'll find either a straight-reading or round-reading dial.
  • On straight-reading meters, use the large needle to test. On round-reading dials, the test dial will be labeled "one-foot" or won't have any markings. For more information, see About Your Meter.
  • Make sure all indoor and outside faucets are shut off tightly and no one is using water. Mark the needle(s) by laying a straight pin or toothpick exactly on top.
  • Do not use any water for half an hour. If the test needles moved, you probably have a leak. Certain leaks may occur intermittently, like a running toilet or faulty swimming pool fill valve, and don't register continuously at the meter. Check all plumbing fixtures to identify fixtures in need of repair including faucets, toilets, water heaters, and irrigation systems. Determine if the leak is inside or outside by locating the main shut-off valve (usually at the front of the house under an outside faucet). If the dial moves while the main house valve is off, you likely have an underground leak.
  • Look for overly green or wet spots between the meter and house valve, and look for surface water or wet spot(s) elsewhere that may indicate an irrigation system leak.

Other Causes of High Bills

High water bills may also be caused by frequent watering of a new or existing lawn or landscaping; a faulty irrigation timer; filling a swimming pool; an increase in the number of occupants or employees in a household or business; water theft; and open faucets or irrigation systems.

For More Information

For more information about leaks in your home or leaks in the street, see Frequently Asked Question About Leaks, and the document below, a PDF file which can be viewed and printed with Adobe Acrobat Reader, a free software.