Check your meter
If your home or business has its own water meter, it’s a great place to start checking for leaks. By looking at the leak detection dial on the meter, you can check for leaks you can’t easily see or hear.
Check your toilets
Toilets are the most common source of leaks. If you’re unsure about how to check your toilet, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. It only takes a few minutes!
- Remove your toilet tank lid.
- Drop ten drops of food coloring into the tank.
- Put the lid back on and don’t flush.
- Wait twenty minutes.
- Check your toilet bowl. If you see colored water, you have a leak. If not, you don’t.
- Check again in six months. It’s good to check at least twice a year to catch leaks before they get bad.
Don’t have food coloring around? Order a water efficiency kit and we’ll send you a set of leak detection tablets that you can use instead.
Fix a flapper in five easy steps
In the toilet, the flapper is really the magic behind the flush. This rubber or plastic part allows water to “flush” from the tank into the bowl and down the drain.
Flappers typically last about five years and are often the source of leaks when they no longer fully seal. You can repair or replace a flapper with the quick, easy steps below. Learn more about flappers with these how-to videos.
- Stop water from entering the toilet by turning the water inlet shutoff valve clockwise. This valve controls the flow of clean water into the toilet tank, and it’s often found on the wall below the back of the toilet.
- Flush the toilet to drain the tank.
- Check the flapper to make sure it lines up with the valve seat. If it doesn’t line up, you’ll need to buy a new one. Replacement flappers can easily be purchased at hardware stores and some large grocery stores. Take your old flapper with you to make sure you get one that fits.
- Attach the new flapper. Hook the chain in a position where it rests without pulling the flapper up (causing a leak) or hanging over the edge.
- After installing the new flapper, open the water inlet shutoff valve and flush to test.
Replace your toilet and get a rebate!
If repair isn’t the answer, the Portland Water Bureau offers a $50* rebate to replace your old toilet with a water-efficient model. Learn more about our toilet rebate program.
*Single-family residential customers enrolled in the bill discount program are eligible for a rebate of $100 per toilet.
Get help with repairing a leak
The Water Bureau works with community partners and local plumbers to offer free water leak repair services for income-qualified homeowners in Portland. Unfortunately, our funding has run out for this fiscal year (July 2022–June 2023), but if you have a leak that needs repair, get on the waitlist. More funds will be available starting July 1, 2023.