How to find and fix
water leaks at home

Received a water bill that’s larger than normal? Unless you filled a new pool or had a number of guests to stay, it could be a sign that you have a water leak.

A leak on your property can waste thousands of litres of water and add up to a hefty water bill. So being proactive and catching a leak quickly makes good sense. Even minor leaks add up over time: a dripping tap can waste 33 litres of water a day!

Fixing a leak in your home. Whose responsibility is it?

Who is responsible for fixing a leak depends on whether the leak affects our pipes or yours. The exact location where responsibility passes from us to you is known as the point of supply. The point of supply is the outlet of the meter fitting closest to your private pipe. This applies regardless of whether the meter is inside or outside the property boundary.

This is a diagram showing the contents of a water meter box. It also explains that the box is our responsibility, but the pipe that leads from it to your property, is the home owner's responsibility.

Before you check for leaks

This simple leak test can help you identify hidden leaks on your property. Before you start, here are some important tips to remember:

  • Pick a time when no water will be used for at least two hours – overnight is a good time.
  • During the test, don’t use any water. This includes flushing toilets, running taps or using the dishwasher or washing machine.
  • Do not turn off the tap on the meter during the test – you need to be able to see if the meter dial still moves while you are not using water, as this helps indicate a leak.
  • Your water meter is usually outside your property boundary in the ground in a timber, plastic, concrete or metal box.

How to read your meter to check for a leak

  • Find your water meter. You may need to remove leaves and debris, or flip up the protective cover to read the water meter.
  • Read the numbers from left to right, and note them down. This is your first reading. Wait for at least two hours (or overnight) and then read your water meter again. Remember to replace the water meter lid securely once you have done this.
  • Compare the two readings. If the numbers are different, you have a water leak. You may need to call a registered plumber to check further.
Meter readings shown the difference between a late night read and an early meter read indicate a leak

Common undetected household leaks

If you’ve identified a leak on your property, you can check for the most common cases of these leaks. Identifying these leaks will save you time and money – it will mean a certified plumber will not have to spend their time investigating the source of the issue. Some leaks are obvious, like a dripping tap or leaking shower hose, but there are several 'silent killers' which could be driving up your water bill.

Leaking toilet cistern

Toilets are a common culprit when it comes to household leaks. A leaking toilet is not easy to see with the naked eye but can waste thousands of litres of water a year. These leaks commonly occur when water drips from the toilet cistern into the bowl.

To check for a leak, place a few drops of food colouring in the cistern. If the food colouring ends up in the toilet bowl without flushing, you have a leak. This can be a sign a washer needs replacing. This can be easily fixed by a certified plumber.

Leaking hot water cylinder

A leaking hot water cylinder will not only drive up your water bills, it can also do a lot of damage. Often tucked away in a cupboard, a leaking hot water cylinder can go undetected. Use a torch to look around your hot water cylinder to see if there is any surrounding dampness. Also check if the hot water cylinder expansion relief valve is letting water drip into the gully trap. If you discover a leak, call a certified plumber.

If you notice a substantial leak, you will need to turn off the water and power to your hot water cylinder. You will then need to drain your cylinder by turning on the hot taps in your house before calling a certified plumber.

Leaking appliances

Often tucked in their own designated nook, a leaking appliance can remain undetected for a long time. Pull your dishwasher or washing machine away from the wall and check behind and underneath for any pools of water. Also check surrounding walls for mould.

The source of these leaks will vary, depending on the make of your appliance. Common leaks occur at the inlet connectors, hose connectors or seals. This issue may be difficult to detect if you’re not an expert. A certified handyman or specialised service technician should be able to identify and remedy these leaks in no time!

Leaking pipes beneath your property

A leak in the pipes beneath your home or property can silently waste thousands of litres a year. If you’ve noticed a sudden drop in water pressure, it could be the result of a leak in your pipes. In dry weather, look out for dampness or moisture on the lawn, garden or driveway.

If you suspect the water pipe to your home is leaking, you should act fast and contact a certified plumber. They have the tools to quickly identify exactly where the leak is occurring.

A spanner approaches a leaking tap fixture beneath the sink.

How you can help fight water wastage

We have to plan and deliver infrastructure that enables us to meet Auckland’s total water demand – and unfortunately, that includes private leaks. New infrastructure costs money and its construction has an impact on community wellbeing as well as the environment. We want to ensure that our existing assets are being well utilised before building new infrastructure.

If every Aucklander fixed their household leaks, Auckland’s water consumption would drop by millions of litres a year. This would make better use of our infrastructure while also saving you money on your water bills.