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Has your water bill increased despite no changes in how you use water? Water leaks are often the cause of unexpected increases in water use. Learn how to investigate potential leaks in your home or business.

It’s easy to spot a leak with our water leak detection test, all it takes is 15 minutes. Simply follow the steps below.

How to detect a leak

Your water meter is a good place to start to perform a basic leak test.


Illustration of a water tap

Turn off all taps

Make sure all taps and water using appliances are turned off.


Illustration of a water meter

Find your water meter

Find your water meter which is usually in your front garden close to the verge.


Illustration of a number inputs

Enter the numbers

Enter the 3 red numbers on your meter in the tool below.


Illustration of digital clock with 15 minutes

Wait 15 minutes

If there is a leak the water meter will move.


Illustration of a number inputs

Enter the numbers again

Return to your meter and enter the 3 red numbers again.


Illustration of a plus, minus and equals icons

Your leak is calculated

If you have a leak, the tool will tell you how much water and money is being wasted.

I have a leak, how do I find it?

If your leak test showed that you have a leak then you need to investigate where the leak is located.

Inside your home

  • Look in the kitchen, bathroom/s and laundry for dripping taps or leaking washing machine and dishwasher connections.
  • Damp patches on the walls may also indicate a leak.
  • You can check your toilet cistern for leaks by placing a few drops of food colouring in the tank. Without flushing it, look for colouring in the toilet bowl. If it's getting through then you have a leak.

Outside your home

  • Look in your outdoor garden for dripping taps or hoses, and check irrigation systems (including sprinklers).
  • Other items to check include automatic solenoids, manual isolation valves and exposed pipe work.
  • Hot water systems and air conditioning units can sometimes leak, so make sure you check them for leaks.
  • Damp and unstable brick paving and garden areas that may be moist and greener than expected can be a sign of leak.

Irrigation systems

  • Irrigation systems often use the most water in a household and leaks in these systems can be costly.
  • Regularly test your garden irrigation system for leaks.
  • Try to be home when your irrigation system is scheduled to run so that you can detect a leak.

Your business’s unexpected high-water use could be a result of a leak. To check for leaks, follow our simple steps and get your water use back on track and reduce your water bill.

Save water and money

A leaking tap can waste up to 2,000 litres a month, so replace washers as soon as taps begin to drip.

A running toilet cistern can waste over 16,000 litres of water each year. You can imagine how multiple leaks can quickly add up if you have multiple taps and toilets. Leaks can also contribute to higher sewer volume charges, energy bills, or even equipment and facility damage.

Spotting visible leaks

Visible leaks can easily be identified by doing regular visual checks. Here are some common leaks to look out for:

  • Dripping taps or showers that won’t turn off properly.
  • Running water in toilet cisterns caused by a sticking button or faulty valve.
  • Running water in urinals caused by worn seals or faulty valves.
  • Wet areas where no water is being used, for example, pooling water on the ground, wet areas of paving etc.
  • Broken sprinklers or bubbling sprinklers when irrigation is not in operation.
  • Water dripping from plant or equipment when operating.
  • Running water in drains or from plants or equipment when turned off.

Spotting hidden leaks

Hidden leaks can be harder to find, but here are some things you should keep an eye out for to spot them:

  • Garden or lawn areas that are much greener than surrounding areas
  • Very spongy areas of lawn
  • Pooling water or wet areas that don’t dry out
  • Damp areas on walls
  • Sound of running water

Run a short leak test

  1. At a suitable time, turn off everything that uses water, such as equipment, taps, air conditioners, and sprinklers.
  2. Record the numbers on your water meter.
  3. Wait an hour or as long as possible (overnight or non-operating hours are best ), then take another reading. If the dial on the water meter has changed, you may have a leak.

If you think you have a leak a Waterwise plumber with leak detection equipment can help you. For leaks in your irrigation, please contact a Waterwise Garden Irrigator.

Once a licensed plumber has fixed your leak, we may be able to offer a leak allowance to help reduce your charges. For more information about leak allowances and how to apply, please visit leak allowance.

No leaks?

If you don’t think you have a leak, there are other potential causes for increased water use. 

Keep on top of future water use

To prevent big bills, you may wish to track your water use to identify any changes to your normal water use pattern that may be a leak.

If you have a smart meter, you can track your water use any time by logging into your online account.

For properties with a standard water meter, we have resources available to help you read your meter and track your water use.

We're here to help

If you need help identifying possible causes, please call us on 13 13 85 or get in touch through our billing and payment enquiries form.

Large complex business

If you run a large operation or have a complex site, we have some advice on checking for leaks to help you save water and money.

It’s always best to stay on top of leaks as they may contribute to high water use, sewer volume charges, increased energy costs, or even equipment and facility damage.

Check for leaks

We recommend you complete this test overnight or outside operating hours when water use is minimal.

At the close of business, turning off any water-using systems, such as irrigation or cooling, is possible. If you have processes that use water overnight, note these and their expected water use.

  • Read your meter by recording the numbers from left to right.
  • Read your meter again before you open for business.
  • If the numbers have changed or you have unexplained water use (not the result of expected overnight water use), you may have a leak, and further investigation is needed.

Please download our meter reading template to make it easier to record your meter reads.

Finding the exact location of a leak or unexplained usage can be difficult for large or complex sites. Isolation valves in your plumbing network can help your investigation. Start by separating your businesses into multiple areas and installing isolation valves in strategic locations. Investigation can then be done by turning off the water supply one section at a time.

If you think you have a leak and need professional assistance, please visit our waterwise specialist page to find a licensed leak detection expert.

Proactive maintenance can help you detect and avoid leaks

Your proactive maintenance can help you detect and avoid leaks. This should include regular checks of all water-using devices, including:

  • storage tanks
  • irrigation systems
  • cooling systems
  • wet areas (kitchens, amenities, laundries)
  • amenities
  • any equipment that uses a float valve to shut off the water supply, such as evaporative air coolers, cooling towers, pool balance tanks and irrigation tanks.

No leaks?

If you don’t think you have a leak, there are other potential causes for increased water use.