To keep your home or business in tip-top shape, it’s important to make sure there are no leaks. Checking your water meter on a regular basis and inspecting your property can help prevent high bills and expensive water damage caused by leaks.

While most homes and businesses have a main shut-off valve at the water meter in case of emergencies, smaller shut-off valves are often located in multiple locations at a property. A shut-off valve for the entire house is typically located at the front of the house where your garden hose is connected to the water line. However, there are also shut-off valves located under sinks and near toilets, which are more helpful for home improvement projects. Many irrigation systems also have a shut-off valve. In case of emergency plumbing issues, you can shut off these valves to prevent water loss and damage.

Learn the basics of meter reading

Becoming friendly with your water meter can help you save water.

Your water meter is typically located near the curb in front of your home or business and features an odometer that looks just like the one on your car. However, instead of tracking miles, the meter reads in hundred cubic feet (CCF).

100 cubic feet is equal to 1 CCF or 748 gallons.

We don’t recommend reading the two black numbers on the right of your water meter because they measure in units less than 100 cubic feet and San Jose Water bills for each 100 cubic feet.

If all the water is shut off at your property (i.e. no showers, toilet flushing, or running sprinklers), the red needle gauge or hand on the meter will not move. You may have a leak if you see any movement. Every time the red hand travels around the dial, 7.48 gallons of water has gone through the meter.

There’s also a small red dial on the meter. If this is spinning around, water is going through the meter, which can indicate a leak.


Be water smart

Leaks account for approximately 10%-15% of water use for an average home. Outdoor irrigation leaks alone can result in a water bill that is significantly higher than what you normally would pay. Look at the chart below to see how much water can be wasted due to leaks. You can see it pays to detect and repair leaks early!

Leak Source

Leak  Size

Gallons / Day

CCF / Month

Trickling faucet or showerhead       

120 drops/minute



Running toilet

off/on refilling



Irrigation pipe leak

One 1/32 hole



Missing sprinkler head

30 minutes daily flow       



Overflow tube in toilet

Constant flow



Garden hose left on

Constant flow




Call in the pros

Concerned that your home or business may be experiencing a water leak, but not sure? Need help learning how to read your meter? Want to know where your shut-off valves are located? San Jose Water offers free water audits to single family, multi-family and commercial customers.

Our conservation experts are ready to help you use water more wisely by:

  • Surveying your indoor and outdoor water use
  • Providing complimentary low-flow faucet aerators and showerheads (if needed)
  • Checking for visible water leaks*
  • Offering landscape water use evaluations
  • Recommending an irrigation schedule
  • Assisting with the programming of your irrigation controller (if needed)

To schedule your free water audit, please contact our Customer Service Department at (408) 279-7900.

*San Jose Water is not a leak detection service; we can only assist in locating visible or audible leaks.