Meters, Leaks & Pipes
Water Meter Basics
- The meter is owned and maintained by the City of McKinney
- It is generally located in a small box in the ground near the street or the edge of the property
- It registers in gallons all of the water used in your home or building, as well as outdoor water use
- Most have electronic reading devices that allow the meter reader to capture the reading remotely
- Meters are read monthly. Learn more about meter reads and the billing cycle
- All meters are calibrated and tested in the factory before they are shipped.
- The American Water Works Association allows an error rate of 1.5%.
- The design of the water meter does not allow the City of McKinney to adjust the dials.
- Much like an automobile or other mechanical device, the meter slows down with age and can eventually stop registering completely, but it cannot run faster than it was designed to run. The mechanical parts are not capable of "speeding up" or registering a higher reading than actual.
High Consumption & Outdoor Watering
The average household uses 2,000 gallons of water per person per month. A variance above your normal household consumption could indicate any of the following:
- Incorrect irrigation timer settings
- A power surge can reset a timer to factory defaults, causing it to run more frequently than expected.
- Check not only weekly timers, but also daily timers as well.
- Check for multiple timer programs (A, B and C)
- Broken or damaged sprinkler heads
Outdoor Water Use
A standard irrigation system uses an estimated 20 gallons per minute; a drip Irrigation system uses an estimated 7 Gallons.
Typically, customers begin outdoor watering in late March or early April. The increased consumption generally isn’t reflected on the bill for approximately 6 weeks. For example:
- If once weekly watering begins April 1, the bill (due nearly a month later) only has consumption for 1 day of watering.
- If the timer is increased to twice a week on April 30, the May bill will include 5 watering days, while the June bill (received 6 weeks after watering increased) will have 10 days.
Estimate your Usage
Gather the following information:
- Watering frequency
- How many times a day
- Number of zones
- Run time per zone
Use the Irrigation Water Use Spreadsheet to calculate your water use and compare it to your billed consumption.
The average household’s leaks can account for nearly 10,000 gallons of water wasted every year and 10% of homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons or more per day. Fixing easily corrected household water leaks can save homeowners about 10% on their water bills. A water leak the size of:
- 1/32" can waste 1,546 gallons of water per week*
- 3/16" can waste 55,500 gallons of water per week*
*leak / water loss calculations based on a continuous leak at 60 psi water pressure.
Checking for a leak
- Turn off all faucets inside and outside.
- Check leak indicator (see image).
- If spinning, water is flowing through the meter.
- A small drip may not be detectable or measurable.
- To determine how big the leak is, calculate your water usage.
What if I find a leak?
If the leak is located before the meter, the city is responsible for the repair. This leak will not affect your consumption as it is not running through the meter.
If the leak is located after the meter, the homeowner is responsible for the repair, including all costs associated with the repair. Sometimes, a simple repair can stop a costly leak.
The City of McKinney offers a credit as a courtesy to our customers who qualify. Water loss due to theft, vandalism or negligence is not covered.
- Usage must increase on a single bill at least 10,000 gallons above your seasonal average.
- Limited to 1 request per address in a 12-month period.
- Submit a leak adjustment form with proof of repair within 60 days of the repair.
- To avoid late fees and/or disconnections, payment in full is required until the credit is calculated.
- A 30% credit toward one high bill (maximum $1,000 residential, $2,500 non-residential)
- The credit will be calculated upon receipt of the leak adjustment form. If you expect your next bill may be higher, you should postpone submitting until it generates.
- Once calculated, the credit will post within 10 business days.
- Miscellaneous charges such as service fees, deposits and trip fees are not included when calculating the credit.
Emergency Water Shutoff
Your home has two shutoff valves. One is owned by the city and should only be accessed by city staff. The other is your personal shutoff valve that you should be able to access. It is important to know where the water shutoff valves are located before an emergency occurs.
Personal Shutoff Valves
These valves completely turn off water to the house and may be found in one of the following locations:
- In the crawl space where the water line enters the home
- In the garage where the water line enters the wall or ceiling, near the water heater or laundry hookup
- Outside near the foundation, often protected by a concrete ring or clay pipe.
If you can’t find your personal shutoff valve, you may want to have a shutoff valve installed if it can’t be located or is in need of repair. If you have an emergency and need help shutting off your water at the meter or need help locating your meter, please contact us by email or call 972-547-7360.
Supply Valves allow you to shutoff service to individual appliances.
City of McKinney Shutoff ValveThe city’s shutoff valve is located between the meter and the street and should only be accessed by authorized city staff. Your water meter is located in a concrete or plastic box in the ground, generally in front of your house and near the side property line.
It is important to keep the box free of plants and roots that can obstruct or hide the meter or damage the service line.
Protecting Pipes from Freezing
Freezing can lead to pipes bursting or cracking. Some pipes are more prone to freezing than others:
- Pipes located in exterior walls - usually bathrooms and kitchen sinks.
- Any plumbing on the exterior of the home.
- Exposed pipes, especially those in unheated areas - attics, crawl spaces, garages.
- Open cabinet doors under sinks to expose pipes to heat within the house.
- Let the cold & hot water run in a stream about the size of a pencil lead from any faucet served by exposed pipes or those in exterior walls. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing.
- Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature day and night.
- Disconnect garden hoses.
- Please make sure your sprinkler systems are turned off. Although freeze sensors are required on all sprinkler systems to keep them from operating during icy weather, they do need to be replaced periodically.
- Install a faucet insulator on outside spigots.
- Install foam pipe insulation from your local hardware store over pipes at risk of freezing.
- Cover all openings around the foundation.
- Collect water in the event that you lose water service. Suggestions for collecting water include catching the water stream in your bathtub, buckets or cups.
- In the event of loss of water service, use the collected water for watering house plants or for flushing toilets.
- Check for leaks when the pipes begin to thaw if they become frozen.
- If a pipe breaks, turn your water off at the main valve. If you would like assistance with turning off your water, contact the City of McKinney Public Works department at 972-547-7360.
- If planning to be out of town for an extended time, turn off water to the house and open faucets to reduce pressure.
For more information on what to do in case of freezing weather, please visit our Severe Weather page.