How to find and fix leaks and drips at your property

How to find a leak

Water is precious and we need it for life. That’s why we want to help you to find and fix any leaks in your own pipework so, together, we can ensure we don’t waste water.

There aren’t always obvious signs of a leak such as a damp patch or water bubbling up out of the ground in your garden. Sometimes you have to go looking for it. To help you find a leak, follow the simple checklist below:


Find a leak in your home: checklist

1. Find your water meter. It’s usually outside your home, under a small metal or plastic cover embedded into the pavement close to the property. Or, it might be in your garden.

If you’re stuck, check out our Guide to finding my water meter.

2. Ensure anything that normally draws water from your pipework is not in the process of doing so. That includes appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers, and also toilet cisterns and water tanks. Otherwise, you will not be able to detect a leak.

3. Give it 15 minutes to ensure nothing in your home is still consuming water.

4. Now check your meter. If the meter dial is moving, then there could be a leak somewhere in the pipework.

5. Find the leak by doing a simple stop tap test.

  • Find your stop tap or check out our Guide to finding my stop tap.
  • Turn off your stop tap. Test that it’s worked by opening a kitchen tap. If there’s no running water, then it’s worked.
  • Check your water meter now: if the red dial is moving, it’s possible there is a leak between the meter and the stop tap. Take a look at the picture below for a better idea where that might be.

    Who is responsible 

We want to help, even though in this instance the problem is in pipework that supplies your home directly and is your responsibility. If you get in touch via our simple Report a Leak form, we’ll get back to you about our free leak detection service available for up to an hour.

  • If the red dial is not moving, then there might be a fault in the pipework or plumbing inside your home, which, as you’d expect, is your responsibility.

In this instance you’ll need to call a plumber to fix the problem. lists trustworthy, local tradespeople that might help take some of the stress out of the situation.

What should I do if a leak or burst happens in my home?

A leak

If the leak is inside your home or you have a burst pipe, you should turn off the stop tap and contact an approved plumber as soon as possible (it is advisable to keep a number to hand). If any damage has occurred it is also advisable to contact your insurance company.

Do not touch any wet electrical fittings – call an electrician.

A burst pipe

If a pipe bursts inside your home or property:

• Turn off the stop tap and boiler.
• Open all taps to drain the system quickly.
• Soak up/block off escaping water with thick towels.
• You can find an approved plumber through the WaterSafe site. 
• If water has leaked near your electrics or into any electrical appliances, switch them off at the mains.
• Turn off taps once pipework is repaired to avoid further flooding.
• If you have your own plumber, make a note of their name and number on our leaflet so you have it handy in an emergency.

Who is responsible?

We own and maintain the water mains which carry water to homes and businesses. Your home is linked to the water main by a service pipe.

Responsibility for this underground pipe is split between you and us as shown on the diagram below (click on image to enlarge):

Whos responsible

Not all supply pipe configurations are this simple.  They may run under outbuildings, to the back of your property, over third party land before reaching your property or you may share a supply with your neighbours.

The following diagram shows a few different examples.


We recommend checking your insurance policy to see if you are covered for internal and external leaks on your pipe work. There are specialist policies available.

How do I know there is a leak?

Visible signs of a leak include water bubbling out of the ground or a very damp patch in your garden on a dry day.

If your water supply is metered you can carry out a simple check by taking meter readings.

Where is the meter fitted?

Most meters are found in the public footpath outside your house or in the front garden. They are located in an underground box which is usually under a metal or plastic cover.

Sometimes it will be covered with a large cast iron cover, which you should not lift. Occasionally meters are located inside the house next to the stop tap, which is often under the kitchen sink. 

What help is available?

  • Finding a leakif you suspect there’s a leak in the pipeline between your water meter and the internal stop tap and there’s no obvious evidence above the ground, then you can take up our free leak detection service. It’s available for up to one hour. Our equipment is really effective, but still we can’t guarantee we’ll find the source. But, we’ll let you know what we do or don’t find.

    Get in touch via our simple Report a Leak form to let us know about the suspected leak and we’ll get back to you.

    If the leak is inside your home, you’ll need to contact a plumber. WaterSafe has a list of trusted, local tradespeople that might help take the stress out of the situation.

  • Repairing a leak – we recommend you contract a reputable plumber or ground worker to make repairs. Using a WRAS approved plumber means you can be assured a standard of workmanship and materials. If you decide to undertake repairs yourself we can offer advice on types of fittings and where to source them, more information is available here.
  • We will offer assistance for customers who are on our social tariffs, on our special needs register or on certain means tested benefits. The exact help will be determined by the length and position of the supply pipe, please call us on 0330 303 0277.

Will my metered bill be corrected?

If you are paying metered charges, we will correct both water supply and wastewater charges to reflect the extra amount of water recorded because of the leak once it has been repaired.

We normally re-calculate your metered charges based on your past water use. Where there is no record of your previous water use, the adjustment will be based on the average use of a property of a similar type.

Charges will be adjusted back to the previous bill for metered customers.

For customers who have not previously received a bill then the re-calculated charges will be back dated to the beginning of the financial year.

There will be no correction of charges if any of the following applies:

  • Another leak occurs after a correction for an earlier leak
  • You (or someone else living with you) caused the leak by acting negligently
  • You knew, or could reasonably be expected to have known, that there was a leak and you failed to repair it or tell us about it
  • The leak occurred because of faulty pipes or fittings inside your home
  • You did not repair the leak within a reasonable period.


Notification of adjustment

If we can, we will tell you what the adjustment is over the phone. However we will also send you a letter confirming your bill has been adjusted within a week of us taking the second reading from you.

Please note, we cannot give leak allowances if  the leak was because of a faulty pipe or fitting inside your home.

Leak allowance

If you've had a leak that has been repaired, we may be able to give you a leak allowance.

If your water is supplied by another water company, consumption and allowance details will be provided to us and we will mirror their allowance. This can take up to two months.

Please take a meter reading immediately after the repair is fixed. Your contractor can do this for you. We need the reading to process any leak allowances

Two weeks after your repair has been fixed please read the meter again. We will contact you for this reading which helps us to compare your normal consumption with that during the leak.


Notification of adjustment

If we can, we will tell you what the adjustment is over the phone. However we will also send you a letter confirming your bill has been adjusted within a week of us taking the second reading from you.

Please note, we cannot give leak allowances if  the leak was because of a faulty pipe or fitting inside your home.

How to fix a dripping tap

A dripping tap can waste a lot of water – up to 10,000 litres per year. That’s more than a full bathtub each week. Yet most dripping taps just need a new washer, which can be simple to fix.

Fix your dripping tap:
  1. Turn off the mains water supply at the stop tap (need help to find your stop tap?).
  2. Turn the dripping tap on full.
  3. Unscrew the cover and loosen the hexagon using a spanner.
  4. Remove the whole tap top.
  5. Lift out the jumper plate and use pliers to unscrew the nut. Remove the old washer.
  6. Fit the new washer.
  7. Re-assemble the tap.
  8. Turn the water on again.


Need a plumber?

If you've having trouble fixing your tap – or have a bigger task at hand – you may want the help of a reputable plumber. Trusted plumbers who are qualified to meet the regulations for working safely with drinking water can be found through the WaterSafe online directory. See our Find an approved plumber page for further information.

Check if you have a leaky loo

Push-button toilets commonly have undetected leaks. A leaky loo can waste up to 400 litres of water a day, which could be increasing your bills – so it can pay to know if your loo is leaking.

A higher than expected bill is often the first sign you’re using more water than normal. And while there may be an obvious reason for the increase, such as recent building work at home or a new addition to the family, it could also signal a leak in your loo as  push-button toilets can commonly have undetected leaks.


How to check if you have a leaky loo

Wait 15 minutes after the last toilet flush, then dry the back of the toilet pan with toilet tissue. Place a dry sheet of toilet tissue at the back of the pan. 

Wash your hands and leave for three hours, if possible, without using the toilet. When you return, check the condition of the tissue: 

  • If the toilet tissue stays dry – good news, you don’t have a leak.
  • If the toilet tissue is a little crooked or wet – you may have a small leak. Use this process regularly to check that it is not getting any worse (and costing you more money).
  • If the toilet tissue has broken up and has moved in the water below – you have a significant leak and will need to get this fixed by a plumber. Check out our Find an approved plumber page for further information.

Save a little water, make a lot of difference

Hotter summers and less rainfall means there’s less water to go around. But small changes soon add up
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