Water leaks - Kitchener Utilities
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Look out for leaks

No matter how committed you are to water conservation, if you have a leak, you are wasting water. To avoid high costs that could surprise you on your next water bill, take a look around your home for potential leaks in toilets and faucets. The faster you find and repair leaks, the less they will cost you in the long run.

What are the common causes of water leaks?

Possible reasons for water leaks include malfunctioning toilets, water softeners, leaking taps inside or outside, reverse osmosis units, irrigation systems, and ruptured pipes on the customer's side of their water meter inside their home.

According to a report on the Region of Waterloo's website a leaking toilet can lose up to 300L of water per day - that's enough water to fill a rain barrel nearly five feet tall.

The video below shows some tips on how to detect a water leak in your home.

How are water leaks detected by the city?

Water meters are scheduled to be read on a monthly basis. If there is a leak during the month, we would not be aware of it until the meter is read.  This means water leaks can go unnoticed by customers during their billing cycle. Sometimes leaks are noticed and corrected, and sometimes a leak can self-correct - (for example, with the next water softener cycle or flush of a seldom-used toilet).

How can I tell if I have a leak?

Be aware of the common causes of leaks. Some are easier to identify (a dripping faucet, or the sound of a toilet continuing to flush) and others need more investigation because they are hard to detect - (for example, a slightly leaking flapper which you can't see or hear leaking).  You can also proactively check your toilets. Or you can hire a plumber to offer expert advice.

The below video shows how not all water leaks can be seen and heard.

Testing your toilet

You can test your toilet in two ways:

1.  Quick check

  • Look at the water level in the water tank
  • The water should be 1/2 inch (125 cm) below the top of the intake to the toilet.
  • If the water level is higher, your float is set too high and needs to be adjusted.

2.  Slow leak

  • Mark the water level in the tank with a pencil.
  • Turn off the intake water supply valve located behind the toilet bowl.
  • Wait at least an hour (make sure no one flushes the toilet during this time).
  • If the water level has dropped, you have a slow leak and need to check the condition of your flapper valve.

Who is responsible for the leak?

Homeowners are responsible for their water consumption - either intentional, or unintentional (as in the case of a leak).  The cost of even the smallest leak can add up quickly, so knowing the common causes of leaks can help you be mindful of how to recognize and fix a leak as soon as possible.

What happens if I get a large bill I can't afford?

City staff will work with you to develop a payment plan to help manage a high bill resulting from a leak.

How do I know the leak is inside my house, and there is not a problem with my meter?

The city's water meters are mechanical.  Unless water passes through, there is no consumption recorded, and they cannot physically measure more water than has actually flowed through them.  The meters can't speed up - they only slow down (over time, with wear and aging).  If a water meter fails, it actually records less consumption than was used - not more.

If you're concern about the accuracy of your meter, you can request to have it tested.  The test takes approximately 2 hours, and a fee of $233.95 is charged for the testing.  This fee is reimbursed to you if the meter is found to be faulty.

Be water wise!

The Region of Waterloo can help above-average users save water and reduce their bills. You can register with the Region to qualify for a free in-home consultation if your water use is above the average of 165 litres per person per day. The in-home consultation includes a professional checking of all water-using fixtures and appliances. At the end of the consultation you will get a report with tips and suggestions to lower water consumption based on your in-home consultation. 

You can submit an online request for a home audit or visit the Region of Waterloo's website for more water-saving tips and information.