Unless damage occurs to a visible water pipe, it can be some time before you see the effects of a leak.

The longer a pipe is leaking, the more water you will waste and the more likely it is that it will cause structural damage that’s costly to repair. It is therefore important that any leak is detected and dealt with as early as possible.

How to discover if you have a water leak

A very effective way of checking whether or not you have a leak is to install a smart meter. With Automatic Meter Reading (AMR) you will be able to regularly monitor your company’s water usage, enabling you to spot unexpected surges without waiting for your quarterly bill. If there is no other explanation for increased use, then it is almost certain that you have a leak.

To confirm your suspicions, choose a time when no one will be in the building, switch off all the taps and any appliances that use water, and take a meter reading. Leave it for at least half an hour before you check the meter again. If the reading has gone up, then you do have a leak.

leaking pipe

How to discover where a hidden leak is

We’ve come a long way from water dowsing - although there are reports that dowsers are still sometimes used by some water company employees. Specialist plumbers now have a range of technologies that can help them pinpoint a hidden leak:

  • Moisture meters use sonar technology to detect moisture well below the surface
  • A borescope is a small camera fixed to a thin shaft that can be pushed through a small hole, enabling you to see footage of the spaces behind walls or under floorboards
  • Thermography equipment shows heat via infrared radiation which highlights hot or cold plumes where the water is leaking
  • Acoustic technology uses a microphone to try to detect the noise of running water. Traditionally, plumbers have used a listening stick, which is not particularly accurate because of the interference from ambient noise. However, digital technology has been developed that can block background noises, enabling you to pinpoint the leak with much greater accuracy
  • Tracer gas is pumped into pipes that have been emptied of water; gas escapes through the leaks and a sensor will pick this up

Whose responsibility is it to mend the leak?

If the leaking pipe is inside your building or in the supply pipe to your grounds, then it will be your responsibility to mend the leak and undertake repairs.

View our Leak Assistance Guide

If you experience an emergency situation, contact us during office hours on 01250 718700, Monday - Friday 9am to 5pm or contact your water network owner outside office hours - click here for contact details.