Potential Leak Information

Already confirmed you have a leak? Please go here for more information.

If you are visiting this page, more than likely Hixson Utility District staff members have directed you here for suggested leak finding information, or you have been directed here from a leak notification found on your water bill. Please keep in mind you may or MAY NOT have a leak. There are many reasons for higher water bills, or water in your yard other than a leak in a water pipe. Below are early steps you may consider taking to determine if you possibly have a leak in your water piping before calling a plumber.

If you have received a water utility bill with the leak alert message, indicating you have a potential leak, please understand that water meters now are equipped with electronics that record consumption hourly. The alert on your water bill indicates your meter registered usage for 24 consecutive hours prior to the reading that appears on your water bill. This usage could be a measurement that equates to a very small drip or possibly a larger, more expensive leak. You have been notified of this potential leak to provide you time to investigate your water usage and prevent a larger, unexpected water and/or sewer usage charge on the next water bill. If you do not have a known reason why the meter would register usage for every hour on the day the meter was last read, the following are steps you may consider in identifying the issue.

Step 1 - Verify your meter is not registering water usage when you are not intentionally using water.

Make sure you have turned off all faucets on the inside and outside of your house and turn off all water-consuming appliances in use such as washing machines, ice-makers, and dishwashers.

Locate your water meter, which in most cases will be at one of your property corners or in the middle of the yard about five feet from the road.

Open the meter box lid and verify the meter number on the meter matches the meter number on your bill.


Verify the water meter valve in the box is in the "on" position. You can verify this also by making sure you have water at your faucets when turning them on, but make sure you turn the faucet off after verifying the water meter is on. Click here to see a video of a water meter valve being turned on.

Your water meter has a water usage indicator on the dial, which moves when even a small stream of water is running. Click here to see a video of a water meter dial with the blue water usage indicator turning.

Look at this indicator: If the indicator is moving, proceed to Step 2. If the indicator is not moving when you view it then possibly your issue was a short term scenario and was a result of something unknowingly left on or possibly a toilet(s) that has faulty internal parts that is letting water seep by periodically and goes unnoticed. If your meter water usage indicator was not moving indicating water usage, you still may want to monitor your toilets to make sure they are not allowing water usage when they are not being used. The District provides free toilet dye test packets for you to conduct leakage tests that may help determine this possible scenario.

Step 2 – If your meter’s water usage indicator is moving and you are sure you are not using water inside the residence, then begin tracing possible leaks from the meter to your faucets and toilets.

If possible, find a water shut off valve at your residence that will separate the water supply from the water meter to the house. The normal areas of shut off valves will be around your hot water heater, or where the water service line coming from the water meter enters the foundation of your home in the basement or crawl space. If you can shut off this valve and the blue water usage indicator is still turning, then your water loss is probably between the water meter and the valve you shut off. At this point, look for signs of a water leak in your yard. Common areas that water leaks go undetected longer than normal are under concrete driveways, at the foundation of the house where the water is carried away underground by drains, or about two feet in front of the water meter box on the residence side. If you notice an area of spongy, wet soil around the water meter box when other areas in your yard are dry, then please call Hixson Utility District at 423-877-3513. If you hear a water leaking noise or see water spraying, flowing, or moving in the water meter box during your review then please call Hixson Utility District at 423-877-3513. The faster the blue water usage indicator is moving the more water usage is occurring which reflects on your water bill. One complete revolution by the large sweep hand represents 7.4805 gallons of water if you need to determine the severity of the water leak. Click here for a photo of a dial that shows the sweep hand.

Step 3 – If you did Step 2 successfully and the meter showed no usage or could not separate the plumbing in the yard and the residence then perform the following.

Turn the valve on again that you turned off in Step 2 (this is the valve at your house that you turned off to separate the house from the water line in your yard). Visit the water meter again and verify the meter still shows water usage on the blue usage indicator. If this dial is still turning you may want to look under the crawl space for any leaking pipes that could go unnoticed. Water usage from faucets and normal household appliances such as washing machines should be easily identifiable by noise or other signs of water leakage. Toilets are a main reason for unknown water usage inside a residence. Again, the District provides free dye packs to test for water leakage in toilet tanks. A quick test that could be performed as well to prove a toilet is working improperly is to turn off all the shutoff valves that supply water to each toilet (these normally are the chrome valves directly under your toilets) in your home and again visit the water meter. Is the dial turning still? If the answer is no, then one of the toilets is likely the problem. If the answer is yes, and the meter is still moving, you may feel more comfortable calling a licensed plumber.

Please remember these items:

  1. An alert on your bill does not necessarily mean your water leak is a large one at the current time or that you actually have a leak. The message indicates the meter showed 24 hours of consecutive hourly usage no matter if it was very small amount of water usage or a large amount of water usage. This message is printed on the bill as a courtesy to give advanced notice that something could be leaking. Unfortunately, some leaks will be larger when your receive your bill. The message will let you know why the increase on the bill occurred, as well as give you notice of a leak that has gone unnoticed.
  2. Never do any work inside a water meter box other than turning the water valve on or off. District employees perform all leak repairs inside the box. Homeowners and plumbers that install piping into District water meter boxes, remove the water meter from the meter box, or remove the copper pipe coming directly from the meter box are subject to fines. Please call the office at 423-877-3513 if you have any questions.


I have determined that I have a leak, and my bill is a higher amount than usual. What should I do?

If you have confirmed a leak, and your bill is higher than usual, the most important thing you can do is stop/repair the leak. 

If the due date for your water bill is coming soon, please pay the bill, even if repairs have not been completed. This will prevent your water service from being disconnected after the final due date and a $35 delinquency fee being assessed to your account. If the bill is too high for you to pay in full, please stop by our office to set up a payment arrangement. This will provide you more time to pay beyond the scheduled disconnect date. A partial payment is required to set up a payment arrangement, and this can only be done in person, at our office. 

Once your repairs are complete, an adjustment to your bill may be possible. If you are enrolled in our ServLine Leak and/or Line Protection, the water portion of your bill may be adjusted. Water adjustments are only offered through ServLine. To inquire about an adjustment, contact ServLine at 423-308-5537. For more information about this service, visit our ServLine information page.

If you are a sewer customer with either the City of Chattanooga or the Hamilton County WWTA (including Red Bank), you may also qualify for an adjustment on the sewer portion of your bill. These adjustments are determined by the appropriate sewer authority. To inquire about an adjustment, use one of the following phone numbers:

  • Chattanooga Sewer: (423) 757-5026
  • Hamilton County WWTA (including Red Bank): (423) 209-7842

If you are unsure of your sewer provider, you should be able to find it on your latest Hixson Utility bill. 

Please note: If you have confirmed a leak but not yet received a higher water bill, you may choose to wait until after receiving your next bill to inquire about an adjustment. Leak adjustments are provided once every two years, and can only be used for one bill. ServLine adjustments are only valid for leaks confirmed to have started after a 30-day opt-in period for new service.