Water Saving Tips


  • Don't let the water run while shaving or brushing teeth.
  • Take short showers instead of tub baths - turn off the water while soaping or shampooing.
  • If you take a tub bath, close the drain before turning on the water and only fill half-full. Bathe small children together.
  • Don't use the toilet as a wastebasket.


  • Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator instead of letting the tap run to get cool water.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables in a basin with a vegetable brush.
  • Scrape, rather than rinse, dishes before loading into the dishwasher. Wash only full loads.
  • Add food wastes to your compost pile instead of using the garbage disposal.


  • Wash only full loads of laundry or use the appropriate water level or load size selection.

Appliances / Equipment

  • Consider purchasing high-efficiency toilets or place a plastic container filled with water in the back of your conventional toilet.
  • Be sure it does not interfere with operation of the toilet's flush mechanism.
  • Install low-flow faucet aerators and showerheads.
  • Consider purchasing a high-efficiency washing machine which can save over 50% in laundry water and energy use.

Check for Obvious Signs of Leaks

  • Do you hear water running in the middle of the night?
  • Does your toilet fill up when it's not being flushed?
  • Do you have a spot in your lawn that looks greener than the rest of the yard?
  • Is your water bill higher than normal without any unusual activity?
  • If so, first check your toilets. Then your faucets.

Toilet Cut DiagramToilet Leaks

  • Toilets are the most common and unnoticed source of leaks. Follow these steps to find out if your toilet is leaking:
  • Put a dye tablet in the toilet tank. Wait 20 minutes. Do not flush during test. If colored water appears in the bowl, you have a leak. The flush valve ball (A) probably needs to be replaced.
  • If the flush valve ball isn't worn, check to see whether it fits into the flush valve (B) snugly.
  • If this valve is corroded, clean it. If the ball still won't seat properly, straighten the guidewire (C) and make sure it's not catching on anything. (Newer toilets have a chain and "flapper ball" instead of the guidewire and flush valve ball.)
  • Sprinkle a small amount of talcum powder on top of the water in the tank. If the powder moves toward the overflow tube (D), you probably have an overflow leak. Gently bend the float arm (E) down to shut off the valve before water spills into the tube. Or, replace the float valve (F).
  • If your toilet whistles, whines, or won't shut off after adjusting the float ball, you may need a new ballcock assembly (G). Hardware and plumbing stores sell complete kits with instructions.

Faucet Cut DiagramFaucet Leaks

  • You don't have to be a detective to find and fix leaky faucets. The most common cause of leaks is a worn washer. Here's how to fix a washer on simple faucets:
  • Shut off the water at the nearest shut-off valve - or at the main shut-off valve.
  • Loosen the cap nut (H) by turning counter clockwise. Turn the faucet handle in the direction of opening until it comes off.
  • Lift out the faucet assembly.
  • Unscrew the brass setscrew (I) that holds the washer (J) in place,
  • Remove the old washer. Flush or wipe the cup clean.
  • Select the proper size replacement washer and insert it. Then replace the setscrew.
  • Replace the assembly. Turn the faucet handle as far as possible to close it. Then loosen the handle slightly.
  • Replace the cap nut. Close the faucet. Now you may turn on the water to see if the faucet is properly reassembled.

For Assistance

If you still suspect a leak, call the Water Division at 650-616-7162 and someone will assist you in properly examining your meter.