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How to Use a Water Level

Water levels are a great way to find a level spot on items like posts or stakes, so you can build structures
that are even and correct. The simple construction and easy setup make a water level a popular tool to
have on-hand for a variety of projects. Making a water level is easy with a few household items like
tubing and water. You can then use the water level as needed so you have a level, even structure or
item every time.

Part 1

Setting up the Water Level

Use 50 to 100 feet (15 to 30 m) of tubing with a 5.16 in (13.1 cm) diameter. A water level is easy to
make at home with plastic tubing and a few other supplies. If you plan to level items that are a far
distance from each other, you may opt for a longer tube. Keep in mind the longer the tube, the more
water you will need to use.[1]
Attach 1 end of the tubing to the flat side of a stake or dowel. Put the stake in the ground or
clamp the stake to the end of a work table. Use nails or tape to attach the tube to the stake,
making sure the open end of the tube is facing upward.[2]

 Make sure there are no kinks or knots in the tube so the water can flow easily through the
Hold the other end of the tubing and fill it with water. Keep the end at the same height as the
attached end of the tube, filling the tube until the water sits 2 to 3 inches (5.1 to 7.6 cm) below
the attached end of the tube.[3]

 Check that there are no air bubbles in the water once you have filled the tube, as this can
throw off the level.
Put 1-2 drops of food coloring in the water to make it easier to see. This will make it easier to
spot the level of the water in the tube.[4]

 Another option is to use windshield wiper fluid in the tube instead of water so the liquid
is colored and easy to see.
Use your thumbs or a cap on the ends to prevent the water from spilling. You can then move
the water level to another spot so you can use it.
Part 2

Using the Water Leve

Bring the water level to the items you want to measure. The water level is often used to
determine the level spot on 2 items that are at a distance from each other, such as posts or stakes
in the ground. Make sure the items are in the ground or set up on a clamp attached to a work
table so they are stable and firm.[6]

 You can also use the water level for construction projects where you need to find 2 level
areas on different items that are close to one another.
Hold 1 end of the level against 1 of the posts. Make sure the open end faces upward. Place 2
nails on either side of the end of the tube to keep it in place. The nails should be just wide
enough to catch the tube but not pinch it. [7]

 You can also use a clamp on the top of the end of the tube if you do not want to put holes
in the post or if the item is not made of wood and cannot be nailed into.
Place the other end of the level against the other post. Keep your thumb over the open end of
the tube so no water splashes out. Then, stand back and see where the water sits in either end of
the tube. Notice if the water appears higher or lower in 1 end. This means the spots are not level
and you need to adjust where the level sits on the posts so the water levels match.
Slide the free end of the tube up or down until the level on both ends match. Continue to
check the levels as you slide the free end of the tube. The water should settle so that it hits the
same level on both ends of the tube.[9]

 If you are levelling items that are more than an arm's distance away from each other, you
may need someone to hold the free end of the tube and move it for you so you can ensure
the water levels are correct on both ends.
Mark the items at the level spot. Once the meniscus, or water line, is level on both ends of the
tube, use chalk or a pencil to mark the spot on both posts or items.[10]

 You can then release the attached end of the tube and use the water level on a different
area, setting it up again with nails or a clamp.
Part 3

Maintaining the Water Level

Make sure there are no kinks or knots in the tubing. Kinks and knots can throw off the level
and result in an incorrect reading. Slide your hand over the entire length of the tube before you
use it so you can be sure there are no kinks or knots.[11]

 A tube that is old or worn may be more prone to knots and kinks so you may want to
replace it over time.
Empty the water level after each use to prevent air bubbles. Leaving water in the tube for a
long period of time can allow air bubbles to form, which can then throw off the water levels in
the tube. You should also empty and refill the water level before you use it to ensure the
measurements are correct.
Keep the water level in a shaded, cool spot to prevent liquid expansion. Exposure to heat and direct
sunlight can cause the tube to get too hot, causing the liquid to expand once it touches the tube. This
can then throw off your water levels and result in an incorrect reading. Store the tube for the water
level in a cool spot indoors in your garage or home so it does not overheat