Check for leaks

Investigating your home water use is a helpful way to find leaks around your home and garden. It's also a handy way to make sure you're not using or paying more than you need to - saving you water and money.

Watch this video to learn how to check for leaks using your water meter.

Video note: A 10 minute test may not be long enough to identify a small plumbing leak. South East Water recommends a 2 hour test to confirm a plumbing system fault at your property.

How to conduct a home water audit

Checking fittings and appliances for faults and leaks
  • Plumbing fittings: taps, toilet, shower, hot water service
    Fixing one dripping tap can save up to 20,000L a year.
  • Water appliances: washing machine, dishwasher, evaporative cooler
    Old or faulty appliances can use up to 20,000L a year.
  • Garden watering systems: irrigation connections, timers
    Wet patches in the garden can indicate faults or leaks.
Common reasons for increased water use
  • Have you had more people in your home?
    New additions to your household or visiting guests can increase water use.
  • Have your garden watering needs changed due to new plants/lawn or season?
    Warmer seasons and establishing new gardens can increase water use.

How to check for water leaks

A leak on your property can contribute to high water use and a sudden increase in the cost of your water bill.

Step 1: Locate your water meter.

Houses: Your meter is outside and usually near the front gate or fence.

Units or apartments:
Your meter is connected to the main water meter and it may be near your front door or in a service cupboard. If you're unsure, contact building management.

Step 2: Turn of all taps, except the stop tap next to the water meter and at the toilet.

Step 3: Make sure no one uses any water during testing time.

Mechanical dial meter:
Record all of the numbers displayed on the dial.
Wait two hours and record the number again. This is your second meter reading.
If any of the numbers have changed, you may have a leak.

Clock meter:
Watch the tell-tale wheel, the tell-tale wheel does not have numbers.
If the tell-tale wheel moves, you may have a leak.

Step 4: If you suspect a leak, it's best to repeat the test. If the numbers change or the wheel moves, see below.

I have a leak. What's my next step?

Turn off the stop tap on your meter and keep it turned off when possible. 

If you are an owner/occupier, contact an independent licensed plumber immediately. Alternatively, South East Water Priority Plumbing is ready to assist at any time - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call Priority Plumbing on 1300 760 306.

If you a tenant of a rental property, contact the agent or owner of the property immediately.  It's important that you encourage your landlord/agent to repair the leak as soon as possible as you are responsible for all the costs associated with the leak, including the water use costs (i.e. you pay for the leaking water).


What am I responsible for?


Leak allowance - how do you know if you are eligible?


South East Water is under no legal obligation to grant leak allowances. It is the responsibility of all customers to regularly inspect their property. Property owners must maintain their plumbing and take immediate action with a leak is detected.

South East Water will consider granting allowances in certain circumstances:

  • The leak was from pipes concealed from view and undetectable e.g. underground, under slabs or within walls.
  • There were no visible signs of the leak, such as consistently wet grass or damp soil, dampness in walls, etc.
  • The leak did not occur as a result of faulty workmanship, vandalism or negligence.
  • The leak was not related to faulty or failed appliances, fixtures and fittings including (but not limited to): solar installations, hot water systems, swimming pools, air conditioners, valves, toilet cisterns, sprinkler systems, rainwater tanks and/or pumps, internal and external taps and showers regardless of location on the property.
  • Leaks from galvanised iron pipes are excluded from being eligible, as galvanised pipes and fittings are likely to be corroded and should have been replaced prior to the leakage occurring.
  • The leak has been repaired by a licensed plumber and validated by a plumbers invoice/report (if the works totalled up to $750) and a copy of the Plumbing Industry Commission Certificate of Compliance (if the works carried out were above $750). Full details are to be provided in an invoice or report stating the location of the leak, possible cause of the leak and type of repair. Invoices/reports must state the plumber's license number and full contact details. Note: The repair must be conducted by a licensed plumber.
  • Vacant or unattended properties (e.g. holiday homes or when a customer is away from their residence) will be treated the same as occupied properties in the determination of eligibility.
  • You must not have been granted an allowance in the last five years.
  • You apply within 90 days of the due date of the billing period which substantiates the high water usage.
  • You must provide a post-repair meter reading.

If you would like to apply for a Leak Allowance complete the
Residential and Not for Profit form (107Kb)

For Businesses there are additional criteria that you can review on the
 Business Application form (159Kb)

The PDF form is editable, simply type in your details, save a copy to your computer and then attach it to your email and send to