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Water Leaks

Leaks on your internal plumbing system, outdoor sprinkler system and service line are not always obvious and can lead to substantial water bills. Many leaks are simple fixes, while others may require a plumber or a landscape irrigation system professional.

Centennial Water is responsible for repairing leaks on water meters and public water mains. Internal leaks, sprinkler system leaks and leaks on the customer’s service line, running between the curb stop (valve in your front yard near the street) and the building, are the homeowner’s responsibility. This includes all pipes between the curb stop and the structure, irrigation systems and indoor plumbing. Click here to refer to Figure A to help identify ownership.

If you receive  a high water bill and you believe your usual water usage did not increase during the corresponding billing cycle, then you may have a leak that needs to be addressed.

Water leaks inside and outside the home can occur at any time for a variety of reasons. Centennial Water staff are available to help you with a leak assessment. Please note that all leak checks by Centennial Water staff are walk-through observations only to observe and note obvious leaks or evidence of leaks. These observations are cursory in nature and are not a substitute for in-depth inspections that may be needed to locate indoor leaks and/or outdoor irrigation leaks that cannot not be readily observed. Customers are responsible for finding and correcting all water leaks on their property and paying the associated costs.

Click for a checklist for chasing down leaks.

Frequently asked questions about leaks

How often should I read my water meter?

Even though the water meter in your home belongs to Centennial, you as the homeowner or tenant/resident are encouraged to read the meter as often as you want to track your water usage and to find leaks.  Don’t wait for a high water bill to arrive in your mailbox to start reading your meter on a regular basis. 

Why is water pressure important?

The static pressure in your home should range between 45 and 70 pounds per square inch (psi). Upon request, Centennial Water staff will test your in-home pressure and let you know if it is within the correct range, if not, they will recommend you replace your pressure regulator valve (PRV). Typically, the water distribution system pressure is much higher than the water pressure in your home.

Unusually low pressure in your home may indicate a failing pressure regulator valve or that there is a leak in the service line from the curb stop to your home. There may be an indoor leak upstream of the hose bib where the static pressure was measured.

Over an extended period of time, high water pressure can wreak havoc on your home’s indoor plumbing system and your outdoor sprinkler system. High static water pressure can increase the severity of water hammer damage; shorten the useful life of your water heater, washing machine and automatic dishwasher; and cause facets, valves and toilets to leak.

If the static pressure in your home is high, your PRV needs to be adjusted to a pressure that is equal to or below 70 psi, but not lower than 45 psi. High pressure may also indicate that your PRV has failed and needs to be replaced.

How do I determine the static pressure in my home?

You can easily measure the static water pressure in your home by using a hose bib pressure gage that can be purchased online or at a hardware store. The cost is generally less than $25. Thread the gauge onto any outside hose bib just like you would a garden hose, open the hose bib valve all the way and read the gauge pressure. The static pressure should be between 45 psi and 70 psi. Be sure to close the valve and remove the pressure gauge when you are done.

Note: Pressure gauges are susceptible to freezing or damage. Keep your pressure gauge is a secure/warm area.

Where is my water service line?

In general, your service line runs from the curb stop (valve) near the front property line directly into your basement, crawl space or garage.

How do I know if I have a service line leak?

Leaks on your service line are not common in the Centennial Water service area, but if present can result in reduced water pressure in the home/building, soil subsidence above the leak and persistent ground saturation or seepage.

If you observe these signs of a service line leak, please call our Customer Service Department at 303-791-2185 to shut the water off at your curb box (valve) in your front yard. If you suspect you have a leak, try to stop the leak by shutting your water service line at the isolation valve located under your water meter. If this does not help, contact Centennial Water for assistance. Such leaks can also damage your front landscaping and your home’s foundation. Your plumber may use a combination of compressed air or acoustic technology and potholing to find and repair the leak.

What do I do if I see water leaking from the meter itself?

If you observe water seeping from the water meter housing, close the valve that is located under the water meter and call our Customer Service Department at 303-791-2185 immediately.

For all other indoor leaks, including leaks from the threaded fittings that hold the water meter in place, close the valve that is located before the meter on the supply line coming into the home and call a licensed plumber.










How do I determine if there is a water leak on my property?

To check for leaks, turn off all indoor water faucets and outdoor hose bibs, and suspend all intentional use of water, both indoors and outdoors. Do not close any valves to toilets or other water appliances. Be sure there are no hoses connected to the hose bibs. A hose full of water that is connected to a frost-free hose bib can cause a leak inside a home when the outside temperature drops low enough to freeze the water inside the hose.

Next, locate the water meter, which for most residential customers is located in their basement where the water line enters the basement through the concrete basement wall. Typically, this is the basement or crawl-space wall that is closest to the street in front of the home. Otherwise, the meter is located in your garage. Refer to Figure A, which shows the pipe, valve and meter assembly. In some homes, the gate valves, as depicted in the illustration, may instead be ball valves.

Next, find the meter and the meter register display on the top of the meter that sits beneath a hinged cover.

What types of residential meters are used by Centennial Water?

Centennial Water uses two types of residential meters. One type is a Badger Model 25 positive displacement meter that has a circular face plate, as shown in Figure 1A below. The other type is a Badger E-Series ultrasonic meter that has a digital display, as shown in Figure 1B below.

How can I use the water meter to determine if I have a leak and how much water is leaking?

On the Model 25 meter, the small star or triangle shaped dial near the center, rotates whenever there is water flowing through the meter. If the dial is moving when there is no intentional water use, then there may be an active leak that needs to be addressed. Comparison of pictures of the faceplate over lapsed time can be useful in determining if a very slow or intermittent leak is present.

The large sweep hand on the meter register measures the flow volume through the meter up to ten gallons. By measuring the time required to pass ten gallons through the meter, you can calculate the flow rate in gallons per minute (gpm). The digital register near the bottom of the faceplate displays the cumulative flow of water through the meter in thousands of gallons (black-colored numbers with the white-colored background).

On the E-Series meter faceplate, the digital display shows the cumulative flow of water through the meter in thousands of gallons (dark colored numbers on a light background). If you place your finger over the optical switch, the display will showsthe instantaneous flow rate through the meter in gallons per minute. If the meter shows instantaneous flow when there is no intentional water use, then there may be an active leak that needs to be addressed.

How do I determine if my leak is inside or outside my home?

If a leak is detected by observing the flow through the meter when no water is being used intentionally, then slowly close the main valve to the outside irrigation system. If the leak stops after you close the valve to the irrigation system, then the leak is located outside in the irrigation system. If instead, the leak continues, then the leak is located inside the house or at an exterior hose bib.

How do I find an indoor leak?

First, with the valve to the outside irrigation system closed, inspect the exterior hose bibs to make sure they are turned off completely and by visual inspection are not leaking.

The most common indoor leaks occur through toilets as it directly releases to the sanitary sewer system. To find a toilet leak, close the valve to each toilet one at a time while checking the low-flow indicator on the meter for water flow. If no leak is detected by the flow meter after closing the valve behind the toilet, then the leaky toilet is the one with the closed valve. Nevertheless, each toilet should be checked for leaks in the same manner because more than one toilet may be leaking water at the same time.

To find very slow and/or intermittent toilet leaks, place 10 drops of food coloring or a packet of drink mix in each toilet tank, do not flush. Wait 20 minutes then check to see if any color appears in the toilet bowl, then the toilet is leaking water. If instead, the toilet tank still contains the dye and no color is in the toilet bowl, then the toilet tank is probably not leaking water.

Possible indoor leaks from faucets, pipe fittings, pipe valves and appliance valves can usually be found by careful and thorough visual inspection. Common water appliances include hot water heaters, water softeners, central humidifiers and under-the-sink water treatment equipment.

Indoor leaks can also occur from frozen and cracked indoor pipes after the temperature has warmed above the freezing temperature. Such leaks are most commonly found behind closed water cabinets that are located along an exterior wall exposed to persistent freezing temperatures for an extended time. If you are a snowbird and you did not properly winterize your home prior to departing, you may come home to costly water leaks from frozen pipes.

Note that home improvements, such as installing a hardwood floor with a nail gun, or simply pounding a nail into a wall to hang a picture, can inadvertently cause a water leak if the nail punctures an indoor water line attached to a stud behind the drywall. Such leaks can cause significant water damage to drywalls and floors before they are discovered. Without the proper tools, materials and training, this type of hidden leak is best resolved by a licensed plumber.

If you need help finding and/or repairing an indoor leak, call a licensed plumber for assistance.

What causes irrigation system leaks?

There are a number of reasons why an irrigation system could leak, some possible reasons include:

  • Rapid system charging in the spring and winterizing with high-pressure air
  • Soil movement (lateral, settlement, shrinkage, and expansion)
  • Material corrosion and fatigue
  • Improper installation including lack of bedding material and restraints
  • Tree and shrub roots
  • Freezing and cracking
  • High static water pressure
  • Damage from excavation and soil aeration

What causes toilet leaks?

Toilets are one the most commonly used indoor water appliances and account for about 27% of the total indoor water use in a typical household, according to the EPA. Standard toilets use 1.6 gallons of water per flush, while older toilets can use as much as 3.5 to 7 gallons of water per flush. Older toilets are also more prone to leaks directly into the sanitary sewer system than are newer toilets.

The common causes of toilet leaks into the sanitary sewer system are:

  • Loose or broken float assembly that controls the water flow into the toilet reservoir tank
  • Faulty fill valve
  • Obstructed fill tube
  • Tank flapper seat malfunction due to:
    • Tangled or hung pull chain
    • Sediment accumulation around the tank bottom orifice
    • Chemical precipitation of slime buildup on the flapper seal
    • Flapper wear and fatigued

Toilet leaks can range from less than 0.14 gallons per minute (gpm) or about 200 gallons per day (gpd) to over 5 gpm or 7,200 gpd depending upon the nature of the leak. Toilet leaks can also be quiet and intermittent making them difficult to detect without the use of food coloring, a packet of drink mix or dye tablets in the toilet tank and diligent monitoring.

How do I find an irrigation system leak?

Finding irrigation leaks can be more difficult to find than indoor leaks due to the configuration of the irrigation system and the nature of the leak. Constant leaks are commonly associated with the vacuum breaker, pipe connections upstream of valve box or a defective irrigation valve. Periodic leaks are commonly associated with one or more lines and sprinkler heads located downstream from the sprinkler valve. Some irrigation leaks can be difficult to locate because they are intermittent and/or they daylight onto the surface.

If you cannot locate or repair an irrigation system leak, call a certified irrigation system contractor.

For information on checking for leaks, click the links below:

American Water Works Association Drip Calculator

American Water Works Association Household Leaks

Centennial Water Residential Water Distribution Maintenance Responsibilities

I am a snowbird; how should I winterize my home while I am gone to prevent water leaks?

If you are a snowbird, be sure to properly winterize your home before departing. An extended power outage or a furnace failure can cause your indoor pipes to freeze resulting in significant water loss and water damage inside your home. To protect your home while you are gone, take these simple steps before you leave:
Keep your furnace running while you are gone to prevent your pipes from freezing.

  • Arrange for a family member or trusted neighbor to check on your home periodically to make sure the furnace is running properly and the indoor temperature is well above freezing.
  • Close the main valve into your home. This valve is located upstream of the water meter.
  • Open the sink faucets, both hot and cold lines, and flush each toilet to drain the toilet reservoir tanks. If you have a refrigerator with a water dispenser, drain the water from this device.
  • Open all water cabinet doors that are located along exterior walls to promote warm air circulation.
  • Contact our Billing Customer Service Department at 303-791-0361 about suspending your water service until you return home.

After you return home, open the main valve slowly to prevent water hammer damage to your interior pipes and plumbing fixtures. Close your faucets if you requested your water be turned off prior to leaving, call Billing Customer Service to schedule a time to have your water turned back on. This service is done during business hours only, Monday – Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Who should I contact to report a leak?

Please contact Centennial Water staff at 303-791-2185 if you have observed a leak in a roadway or common area. Please include as much detail as possible when reporting the location.

I have a major leak in my home, what do I do?

Go to your home shut off valve by your water meter, likely in your basement, and turn off the isolation valve below your water meter (See Figure A for reference). This should shut off the water in your home and the leak will stop. If needed, call a plumber to fix your leak.














I have a leak at the meter, who is responsible for what?

Centennial Water is only responsible for the water meter itself. The homeowner is responsible for the compression fittings on the meter yoke.

How often should I check and exercise home shut off and meter valves?

Figure A shows what the meter tree looks like in your basement. Exercise the valves by slowly turning them off and then back on. Make sure the meter tree is securely fastened to the wall and does not move. Look for corrosion on the valves and pipes. You may need to call a plumber if you see any problems or leaks.