Leak detection

How to spot a leak, and what to do next

It's easy to spot a dripping tap, but leaks are not always so easy to see. Has your water bill unexpectedly gone up even though you haven't changed the way you use water or how many people are in your home? Have you noticed wet patches on your lawn or damp walls in your house? You may have a leak.

You may be eligible for a hidden leak allowance

Don't put it off. If a licensed plumber finds and repairs your hidden leak, you can apply for a hidden leak allowance on your bill.

Who's responsible for fixing leaks

The property owner is responsible for fixing all the pipes and fittings on the property that connect to our water network. However, we often repair water services between our water main and the water meter up to one metre inside the property boundary as a free service. Sydney Water is responsible for fixing water meter itself, which we own and maintain.

If you damage the water system, you’ll need to pay for repairs.

You can lose a few litres of water an hour from a slow-dripping tap and thousands of litres a day from a constantly running toilet. If the leak is from a hot water pipe or a pumped water supply, you're also wasting energy. That makes fast detection and repair even more important.

Find out more about Spotting and fixing leaks (149KB) around your home.

How to check for leaks

Simple ways to look for leaks

  • Check your hot water system's expansion valves when you haven't used any hot water for a while. The valve shouldn't be constantly leaking water.
  • Check your taps and toilets regularly for signs or sounds of leaks.
  • Place a small piece of dry toilet paper at the back of the toilet bowl and check that it stays dry until the next flush. Toilet cisterns shouldn't release any water between flushes.
  • Disconnect hoses or irrigation pipes that are always connected to garden taps. Then check the taps aren't leaking. 
  • Look for green patches of grass that are different from the grass around it. This can mean you have an underground pipe leak.

If you suspect you have a large leak, you'll probably need help from a plumber with specialist equipment.

How to check for leaks using your water meter

It's simple to test for leaks if you have your own meter. 

  1. Turn off all taps and anything that uses water, for example drip systems, dishwashers and washing machines.
  2. Locate your water meter. It's usually at the front of your property.
  3. Write down the numbers on the water meter dials. Some meters even have a dial to show you when you have a leak.
  4. Don’t use any water for the next hour.
  5. Check if the last numbers on the dial have changed. If they have, you've got a leak. The greater the change, the bigger the potential leak.

Watch the video to learn how to read different types of water meters or read more about how to do your own meter readings.

If you can't explain high water use

If you can't detect a leak or explain high water use, ask us to do a water meter test. We'll refund the fee and adjust your water use charge if the meter is faulty. To apply, fill out the Water meter test application form (309KB) or call 13 20 92.

How to fix a leak

Although you may think you can fix the leak, legally you can only do minor plumbing work like changing a tap washer. If you have a leak inside your home or on your property, you'll probably need to call a licensed plumber. Watch the video below from our partners at Smart Approved Watermark to see how to change a tap washer.

How we can help you fix leaks in your home

For more than 20 years, we've helped our customers save over 300 million litres of water and reduce water bills through our WaterFix plumbing service. When you request a WaterFix appointment, one of our plumbers will check your home for leaks and opportunities to save water. They'll tell you about any repair work needed, suggest suitable water-efficient devices and provide a quote. If you give the go-ahead, they'll then do the repair work and add any charges to your water bill.

Find out how we can help you fix leaks with WaterFix Residential.

Leaks you can't find

If you've detected a leak using our simple water meter test but can't locate it, a leak detection specialist will be able to help. Not all plumbers have the special tools and skills needed to find leaks hidden underground and inside walls. Our WaterFix Concealed Leaks program provides a full range of leak detection and repair services. 

If a licensed plumber finds and repairs a hidden leak, you can apply for a hidden leak allowance on your bill.

Water meter tap leaks

While Sydney Water owns the meter, it's your responsibility to fix leaks at the meter tap. However, we'll fix the tap within 10 working days for free. Call 13 20 90 to request this service.

If you want the tap fixed faster, you can call a licensed plumber at your own cost or call 13 20 90 and ask for our WaterFix Express Meter Taps service. For $99 (including GST) we'll come to your property within 3 hours. If you call after 5pm, we’ll do the repair between 7am and 10am the next day. 

If the meter tap and pipe near it have been damaged, for example, run over by a car, hit by a lawnmower or vandalised, we may charge you extra to make the repair. 

How to report a leak in a public space

If you see a leak on the road or footpath, even if it's just a trickle, please let us know.

If you've seen water leaking in a public space such as on a road, park or footpath, please tell us so we can fix the problem.

If the problem is urgent, or you're reporting between 11pm and 6am, please call us on 13 20 90


Saving water in your home

Fixing leaks is just one of the many ways you can save water around your home.

Saving water in your business

There are many ways to save water as you avoid, reduce, reuse and recycle.

Expansion valves

These are located near the top of your hot water system.