Leak Alert Program for Single Family Homes and Multi-Family Properties with Two to Five Dwelling Units
Automated water meters allow the SFPUC and our customers to access timely and accurate information about water use. Using the information available to us through hourly water consumption data from our automated meter reading system, we notify the water account holder, property owner, and occupant (if not the same person) of residential single-family homes and two to five unit multi-family properties when they have three days of non-stop, 24/7 water use, which could mean they have a plumbing leak. For multi-family properties with four or five dwelling units, in addition to the three days of nonstop water use, we also screen for water use that has exceeded the property's average use for the past 90 days by 50 percent or more. Please review the frequently asked questions below to learn more about the program and actions you can take.
We send leak alerts by email, mobile phone text, phone call, and letter. To update your account information, please register or log on to My Account, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (415) 551-3000.
Why did I receive a leak alert?
Our leak alert is a courtesy to inform you that the water meter at your home or multi-family property has recorded continuous water usage of at least 7.5 gallons per hour every hour over the last three-day period that we checked. Typically, there are periods during the day or night, often when residents are sleeping, when water fixtures and irrigation systems would not be running and no water use is occurring. Therefore, it is unusual for the meter in a home or small multi-family building to register usage continuously for consecutive 24-hour periods and this may indicate a leak in your home. You are advised to check and fix potential leaks or other causes of high water use. It is the customer's responsibility to determine if the continuous or high water usage is still occurring at your home.
How was the continuous usage identified?
The automated water meter at your property provides us with information on hourly water usage. The meter readings we receive identify every cubic foot of water used each hour (one cubic foot is equal to approximately 7 ½ gallons).
If our data shows hourly water usage of at least one cubic foot every hour for a 3-day reporting period, we will notify the water account holder, property owner, and occupant (if not the same person) by email, mobile phone text, phone call, and letter, for all methods we have current contact information on file. Our alerts will indicate the dates and amounts of continuous usage. We will notify you up to four times. Our first contact will be shortly after we first detect three days of nonstop water use, a second time about two weeks later if nonstop use is still occurring regularly, and a third time about two months later if nonstop use is still ongoing. We may also issue a final courtesy notice in the form of a door hanger if nonstop use is continuing after 10 weeks.
Does this mean I have a leak?
Continuous usage may indicate your home has a plumbing or irrigation system leak or that a tap was left running. However, depending on your household’s water use this is not always the case. Visit our home leaks page for tips on how to identify and repair common leaks including toilets, faucets, showerheads, and irrigation systems. Select standard toilet repair parts are provided free from the SFPUC, and are available to pick up at our Customer Service counter (located at 525 Golden Gate Avenue) during business hours Monday – Friday. Residential customers with toilets installed before 1994 may also be eligible for a free new toilet, including installation, through our Plumbing Fixture Replacement Program (PREP). In addition to visually inspecting plumbing fixtures, other ways to help detect leaks include:
- Register or log on to My Account to view your household’s or property's hourly, daily, weekly and monthly water use. Sudden increases in water use could mean a plumbing or irrigation system leak has developed or some other unusual water use is occurring. If My Account shows that your hourly water usage never went to zero over the last three days, it could indicate you have a leak.
- You may also request a free inspection by the SFPUC that will include performing a manual read of the water meter while all water fixtures and irrigation systems are turned off, which can help identify silent leaks that could occur from breaks in the main water supply line leading into your home.
Do I need to contact Customer Service?
Our leak alerts are issued as a courtesy. You do not need to contact us if you receive one unless you would like to be opted out of receiving certain methods of notification, such as mobile phone text or any such notices in the future. Use the resources on our website and My Account to help identify any leaks that may be occurring around your home. If you suspect you have a leak but cannot repair it, please contact a plumber. Repairs of leaks on the property are the customer's responsibility. Routine water-fixture maintenance and repairs can add up to big savings on water bills and help us protect our precious water supplies.
How much water could I be wasting?
For a general estimate, multiply the continuous usage rate noted on our leak alert by 24 hours to calculate how much water is being wasted through constant usage in a single day. Then multiply this daily amount by the number of days nonstop usage has been occurring at your property. Our leak alert will note when constant usage started, or you can check hourly use on My Account and scroll back through days to see how long constant hourly use occurred. The United States Environmental Protection Agency estimates that ten percent of U.S. homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day. A leaking toilet can waste upward of 3,000 gallons of water in just a few days, while a faucet that drips at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year.
The reporting tools available on My Account can help you see hourly, daily, monthly and seasonal patterns in your water use, and spot unusual increases in water usage that could be attributed to a leak.