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TO HOOK UP YOUR UTILITIES:  (540) 375-3021|HOURS:  M-F 8am-5pm
E-MAIL:|LOCATION:  City Hall, 114 North Broad Street, Salem, VA 24153

Water Loss Information

TO HOOK UP YOUR UTILITIES:  (540) 375-3021|HOURS:  M-F 8am-5pm
E-MAIL:|LOCATION:  City Hall, 114 North Broad Street, Salem, VA 24153

What is Water Loss?

Water loss is any unaccountable water that occurs other than for known reasons, such as from industrial processes, or typical water usages at home. Water loss that is unaccounted for is typically expressed as a percentage.

How to Detect a Water Leak?

If your water bill / consumption has increased for no explained reason you possibly have a leak. Remember, such water usages as watering the yard, variations in the number of household members, and filling a pool will affect your bill.

Home Leak Detection


Look for water leak signs on your property. Look at your driveway, curb or street for evidence of water flow. The evidence may not be a steady stream of water; it may only be a puddle in your grass that never dries up, or a darker spot on dry concrete.

Meter Reading

Start by taking a water meter reading before and after a two-hour period when no planed water is to be used. If the meter reading is not exactly the same as the beginning reading, you may have a water leak.

Is the leak inside or outside your property?

To determine if a leak is located inside or outside your home, you will need to locate and turn off the main water valve for your home. This valve is usually located along an outside wall in your basement. By turning off the main water valve, you will prevent any water from flowing into the property. This will isolate the source of the leak as being inside or outside your residence. Take a meter reading and wait an hour and retake the meter reading. If there is no change in the reading, then the leak is inside. If the meter changed, the leak is somewhere between the meter and the main water valve.

Leaking toilets are often hard to detect and are one of the most common water leaks in the home. Toilet leaks can waste hundreds of gallons and often times cannot be heard. Even a small toilet leak can waste a considerable amount of water and money over time. Most toilet leaks are easy and inexpensive to fix. One way to find out if you have a leaking toilet is to place a drop of food coloring in the toilet tank. If coloring shows up in the bowl before 10 minutes without flushing, your toilet has a leak. Make sure you flush to avoid tank staining.

What if you have a water leak or need additional assistance?

The City of Salem Water and Sewer Department can answer any additional questions you have about water leaks. If the water leak is on the property side of the water meter (underground water line or in the residency/ business) it will be the owner’s responsibility to make all necessary repairs by contacting a licensed plumber. Before shutting a water meter off please call the Water and Sewer Department at 375-3029. A City employee will be quickly dispatched to turn off the meter.

Ways to save on water use?

The United States Environmental Protection Agency’s partnership program WaterSense, is a great resource for gathering information on household products and ideas to save water and money. The WaterSense program is designed to aid consumers in making smart water decisions that can save water and money while still maintaining high environmental standards without affecting performance.

EPA Watersense Information

Water Usage Table

Type Normal Use Conservation
Shower 5 Minute Shower- 20 Gallons Take shorter showers / Use low-flow showerheads
Bath Tub Average 36 Gallons Take a Shower over a bath
Toilet Flushing 1.6-4 Gallons Install a new low-flow toilets
Hand washing 2 Gallons Installing faucet-head aerators to aid in reducing flow rate
Brushing Teeth 5 Gallons – Tap Running Turn off water when brushing teeth
Shaving 15 Gallons- Tap Running Turn of water when shaving
Sink Dishwashing 10-30 Gallons Install a new 1.5-2-gallon faucet. Use efficient hand washing techniques
Dishwasher 6-16 Gallons Install an EnergyStar dishwasher
Washing Machine 25-40 gallons Replace washer with an EnergyStar unit
Outdoor Watering 2-10 gallons Prioritize watering and or eliminate


Water Loss From Leaks

Referenced from El Paso Water Utilities

Additional Resource

If you have a dripping faucet, check out the American Water Works Association Dripping Calculator. Simply enter number of drips per minute and see the water loss.

Dripping Calculator