Wise water use

We explain how to detect leaks and use water wisely.

How to check for water leaks

Comparison image of an analog water meter and a digital water meter.


Find the leak indicator on your water meter.

Older water meters with odometers have a leak indicator on the face of the dial. The triangular or diamond-shaped indicator revolves 354 times for every gallon of water that passes through the meter.

On newer digital meters, the right-most digit reads to the one-thousandth of a cubic foot. If the number is changing, water is passing through the meter.

It's easier to detect leaks with newer meters, but the process is the same for both.

Checking for leaks

  1. Look at the indicator when no one is using water. It shouldn't move. 
  2. If it's moving, check every plumbing fixture: the toilet, sink, outside sprinkler, washer, etc.
  3. Shut off the valves that supply each fixture, one by one, and check the indicator after each shutoff.
  4. If closing a valve stops the indicator from moving or slows its movement, you have found a leak.
  5. Once the leak is repaired, use the indicator again to check for additional leaks.
  6. Be sure to check all toilets — the most common spot for leaks. See below for easy ways to check for toilet leaks that don't involve the meter.

Water leaks

Is your bill higher than usual? You may have a water leak. Learn how to check for leaks and issues with your home plumbing.


Two-thirds of the water used in an average home is used in the bathroom, and much of it goes into the sewer. Follow these tips to reduce water waste in the bathroom.

  • If an item can be thrown in the trash, do not flush it down the toilet.
  • Be aware of toilet leaks! These are the most common kind of leak and are hard to see or hear. Put food coloring or laundry bluing in the toilet tank and wait 20 to 30 minutes — do not flush the toilet. If the coloring appears in the toilet bowl, there is a leak. Also, if you hear the toilet refilling but it has not been used, there is a leak.
  • Showers generally require less water than baths, although it depends on the length of the shower. Use reduced-flow showerheads for the most water efficiency.
  • Don't leave the water running while you shave or brush your teeth. 


  • Do not rinse dishes before loading them into the dishwasher, and don't run the dishwasher until it's fully loaded. 
  • If you wash dishes by hand, do not let the water run while you wash and rinse them. Use a stopper to fill the sink with soapy water, and use a large pan or dish for rinsing.
  • Do not let the water run while you clean vegetables or other food. Again, use a dish tub or large pan. 
  • Store drinking water in the refrigerator instead of running the water until it's cold.


  • Only wash full loads, or use automatic sensing for smaller loads.
  • Use cold water for the entire cycle. This also puts less wear and tear on your clothes and helps them last longer.
  • At a minimum, always rinse with cold water.

Shut-off valves

  • Install shut-off valves for appliances and fixtures in case a pipe breaks.
  • More importantly, know where the main water shut-off valve for the whole house is and make sure that it works.


  • Water grass or plants only if they need it.
  • Don't water on a fixed schedule or if rain is forecast.
  • Water during the coolest part of the day to avoid excess evaporation.
  • Let the water sink in slowly. If you apply too much too fast, most of it will run into the sewers.
  • If you wash your car, use a bucket for the wash water and run the hose only to rinse.

Contact us

Utility Billing Customer Service




Minneapolis Public Service Building
505 Fourth Ave. S., Room 620B
Minneapolis, MN 55415-1345


8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Monday – Friday

Closed on City Holidays

See list of City holidays