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Helpful Hints & How-To 

Utilities Helpful Hints & How-To

 Shut Off or Turn On Water

How to Shut Off Your Water Service

a picture of a meter in the off position
  1. Always shut off your hot water heater before shutting off your water service to avoid damage to your water heater.
  2. Locate your water meter. Water meters are installed inside meter boxes. If you are unable to locate your meter, call Account Maintenance staff at 503-588-6099.
  3. Remove the metal lid from the meter box. A standard screw driver can be used to lift the lid.
  4. Once the metal lid is removed, there will be a concrete cover that can be lifted up and off.
  5. On some service lines there will be a hand operated shut-off valve on the customer side of the meter. If there is no hand valve on the customer side of the meter, there is always a valve on the street/City side of the meter. This valve is called a "curb stop valve" and it requires a curb stop key to operate. Please see information below regarding curb stop keys.

How to Turn On Your Water Servicepicture of meter in the on position

  1. When you are ready to turn your water service on, open an outside faucet first. This will allow air in the lines to escape when you turn the water back on.
  2. After opening an outside line, carefully and slowly turn the curb stop or hand valve until it stops.
  3. Allow water to run from the outside faucet a few minutes then turn outside faucet off.
picture of turning a meter onturning a water meter onpicture of turning a meter on

A "curb stop key" can be purchased at many local hardware stores, or they can be checked out from the City free of charge when available at either of the following places:

Finance Office

555 Liberty Street SE
8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday

Public Works Field Office

1410 20th Street SE, Building #2
24 hours a day/7 days a week

If you are unable to turn your water service off or on, please call the Public Works Dispatch Communications Center anytime at 503-588-6333.

 Clogged Storm Drains

How to Keep Storm Drains Free of Leaves

The combination of fallen leaves and rain can lead to clogged storm drains, local street flooding, poor driving conditions, and property damage. Each fall, the City of Salem's busy street sweepers collect 450 dump truck loads of leaves. This minimizes the impact of seasonal conditions. You can also help.

We Need Your Help to Prevent Flooding

Rake up leaves that are blocking the storm drain. Do not rake or blow leaves into the street. This is prohibited by Salem Revised Code.

Inexpensive Ways to Dispose of Fallen Leaves

  1. Take your leaves to the free annual Fall Leaf Haul on the first Saturday each December.
  2. Place leaves in your yard waste bin. Additional bins can be ordered from your garbage hauler for an additional monthly fee.
  3. Place leaves in your compost bin. For more information on great composting resources, contact Marion County at 503-588-5169.

 Frozen Pipes

Easy Tips to Prevent Frozen Pipes

Exposed pipes and faucets. Disconnect water hoses from outdoor faucets before the temperature drops below freezing. Wrap outdoor pipes and faucets with insulating materials.

Know the location of the shutoff valve. Identify the locations of shutoff valves around the home in case there is a need to stop the flow of water.

Garages, attics, and crawl spaces. Wrap pipes and faucets located in unheated garages, attics, and crawl spaces with insulating materials; especially those located close to outside walls that are not insulated. If water supply pipes are in the garage, keep garage doors closed.

Inside the house. During periods of freezing temperatures, temporarily let cold water trickle at a slow, constant drip from faucets, especially those located close to outside walls. Leave cabinet doors open under kitchen and bathroom sinks. This allows warm air to circulate around plumbing.

Seal the gaps. Cracks in outside walls or foundations should be sealed to keep cold air away from pipes. During periods of freezing temperatures, cover or insulate foundation vents to help avoid cold air under the home.

 Conserve Water

Water Use Facts to Help You Conserve

Did you know that up to 75 percent of your indoor water use occurs in the bathroom?

  • A shower uses about five to seven gallons of water every minute. A five-minute shower could use 25 to 35 gallons. Try changing to a low-flow shower head that uses only two gallons a minute.
  • A leaky faucet that drips one drop of water per second wastes 2,700 gallons of water a year! Try replacing the o-ring or packing washer inside the valve.
  • Faucets typically deliver a lot more water than you can use. Try installing an aerator to reduce flow.
  • Leaving the tap running while you shave can waste five gallons of water - and two gallons while you brush your teeth. Try turning off the water while you brush your teeth and shave.
  • Toilets are the #1 guzzler of indoor water. Old toilets use about 5 to 7 gallons a flush; even not-so-old toilets use 3-1/2 gallons a flush. Try filling a large plastic bottle with water, cap it, and place it inside the water tank. The bigger the container, the more water you save.
  • Water evaporates 30 percent faster when you operate your sprinklers at midday. Try watering in the morning (before 9 a.m.) or in the evening (after 6 p.m.)


How to Detect a Leak

If you suspect a water leak, turn off all the faucets in the house. Check your water meter to see if the flow detector (a small red or black marker) is moving.

If the flow detector moves, then stops, then moves again, it is a good indication that your toilet valve is leaking or that there may be a very small leak. If the flow detector moves slowly, it is a good indication that you have a small leak. If the flow detector moves rapidly, it is a good indication that you have a break in your line. Check for soggy areas in your yard or under your house.

Once the repairs are made, call Customer Services Utility Billing at 503-588-6099 for a possible adjustment on your bill.

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