Common issues with your water supply
Here's what to do first
- Check South East Water LIVE to see if the water is off in your area.
- Check if your stop tap has been turned off accidentally. That's the main tap near your water meter.
Part of a block of units/apartments? Check the main shared meter – it’s usually located out the front of the block.
Why don’t I have water?
- A burst water pipe/emergency works - In emergency situations we might not be able to notify you of an interruption. But rest assured, we’ll fix the problem as soon as we can. You can also register to receive notifications about emergency works in your area via mySouthEastWater. So you’ll always know what’s going on.
- Planned work - Usually we’ll notify you at least 48 hours in advance by dropping a card in your letterbox, but sometimes letterboxes get missed.
- The stop tap is off - Usually we’ll notify you at least 48 hours in advance by dropping a card in your letterbox, but sometimes letterboxes get missed.
- An issue on your property - Check for leaks or a burst you might not have been aware of. The quicker you get it sorted, the better.
A lot happens behind the scenes to ensure that every time you turn on the tap, you enjoy some of the best quality water in the world. But occasionally, customers notice a change in one of the following:
Taste and smell problems - From time to time, you might notice your water tastes or smells different. Usually, it’s totally normal.
What causes it?
- The different places our water comes from.
- A build-up of sediment or organic matter in the mains.
- A metallic taste may be due to rusting or corroding of internal piping.
- Chlorination to ensure our water is safe to drink.
What to do?
- See the sections on brown and blue water for information on sediment and pipes.
- To remove the chlorine smell, fill a jug with water and allow it to stand for a couple of hours, enabling the chlorine to dissipate. If you’re still worried contact us to investigate.
Blocked pipes can be nasty, stopping waste from leaving your property.
You may have a blockage if:
- Your toilet isn’t flushing properly.
- Your sink or bath empties really slowly.
- You notice a bad smell coming from your drains.
- Sewage is spilling outside or inside your property.
What to do if the blockage is in my home? It’s your responsibility to unblock it. If you’re the owner, you’ll need to contact a licensed plumber to fix the blockage. If you’re a renter, contact your rental provider or agent as soon as you can.
My water meter is damaged Typical faults or damage can include:
- Your meter is leaking, can't shut off your water or is noisy Log the issue online here.
- Your meter is not registering or turning If this happens even when the water is off, you may have a leak. Check our handy guide on how to check for leaks —it could save you bucket loads.
- Your meter dial is unreadable
- You have reduced water pressure
Get in touch with us on 13 28 12. We’ll discuss the state of your meter and determine whether it’s just suffered cosmetic damage or we need to send someone out to replace it.
If we do need to replace your meter, there will be a cost to the property owner or the person that caused the damage.
There’s a lock on my meter Sometimes a lock is placed on a water meter to restrict water flow. Give us a call to discuss on 13 18 51. If there’s a lock on a purple recycled water meter, the property owner might need to contact their builder.
My water meter was stolen If your water meter has disappeared without a trace, give our Faults and Emergencies team a call on 13 28 12. Remember to report the theft to the police as soon as you can too.
Need a plumber?
If the issue is on your property, contact a licensed plumber to fix it for you. Priority Plumbing is on hand to assist you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Alternatively, visit the Master Plumbers website to find a plumber.
What you flush down your toilet and rinse down your sink can have a big impact on your home's pipes and our pipes.
Disposing of the wrong things can cause damage to the sewer system and your property, leading to costly repairs as well as harming the environment and the health of our pipe workers.
What not to put down the toilet or sink
It's easy to keep our pipes flowing free, just remember to bin anything that's not water, human waste or toilet paper, including:
food scraps, fats and oils
- wipes – even the ‘flushable’ ones
- paints and chemicals
- personal items such as tampons and sanitary items, cotton buds, nappies, razor blades, syringes and condoms.
If in doubt, chuck it out. For paint, pesticides and chemicals, keep them in their original containers and contact your local council or Sustainability Victoria, for collection and disposal advice.
The root cause - a growing problem
Tree roots are responsible for lots of Melbourne's sewer and drain blockages. They can also damage buildings, footpaths, fences and pipes.
You can help avoid this by choosing trees carefully and planting them away from sewer pipes. Find out more in this fact sheet.
Top tips for protecting your pipes
- Wipe your pots and pans with a paper towel before rinsing to help remove excess grease
- Collect cooled oil and put it in the bin
- For larger amounts of oil, you can let it cool, pour it into a container and take it to your nearest waste and recycling facility (tip)
- Instead of rinsing scraps off your plate, scrape them into the bin or compost
- Use a sink strainer to reduce the risk of a blocked sink or sewer
- Dispose of syringes by calling DirectLine, the confidential alcohol and drug counselling referral line, to request a disposal container on 1800 888 236
English not your first language? Check out our Easy English guide.
How to prevent blockages
When wastewater is unable to flow away it can come back up from the toilet or sink, giving you a nasty surprise. It's easy to keep our sewers flowing free, just remember to bin anything that's not water, human waste or toilet paper, including:
- Fats, oils and leftover food can solidify and clog pipes.
- Cleaning cloths, sanitary items, cotton buds and all types of wipes – even the ones that say they’re ‘flushable’
- Medicines, pills, paints and chemicals which cause damage to pipes and the environment.
What you can do
Plan and prepare
Everyone in Victoria who lives near forest, bush, grassland or the coast needs to prepare their property for bushfire.
Bushfires can be unpredictable and stressful. Understanding what to expect and having a plan ready can help you cope.
Independent water supplies
As part of your fire plan, it's essential to be prepared with a water supply independent to mains water, such as groundwater bores. Learn more about preparing for a bushfire with an independent water supply
Provides important bushfire-related information 365 days of the year. Call 1800 226 226 free.
You can also tune your radio to ABC local 774 for emergency information.
In the event of an emergency or bushfire, call 000
Do I need a water filter?
You don’t need to filter your water as we’ve already done all the hard work in ensuring your water is of the highest quality.
Some customers with special needs however, such as those with allergies and/or special health requirements, may want to install a water filter.
To make sure your water stays safe and clean, it’s really important to maintain your filter properly (see manufacturer's instructions). Otherwise, bacteriological contaminants can build up in your filter and end up in your water.
Choosing the right filter for your needs
Element Type Filter or Sediment Filter
Suitable for removing colour or sediment by trapping fine suspended materials in the filter element material.
Activated Charcoal Filter or Carbon Filter
Designed to remove and/or to absorb taste and odours such as chlorine or organics in the water.
Removes iron, flouride and heavy metals, but not organic chemicals.
Reverse Osmosis/Distiller Filter
Designed to remove all chemicals, both natural and added.
Before you buy a filter
If you decide to buy a water filter, make sure to think about the following:
- South East Water believes filters aren’t necessary.
- Boiling water for five minutes is enough to kill all harmful bacteria with no ongoing maintenance costs.
- Standing water at room temperature, or in a fridge, for two hours will remove chlorine-related taste and smell.
- Read the filter manufacturer’s instructions very carefully to understand the changing, cleaning of elements or filter cartridges, flow rates and water service connections.
- Do you know the level of backup service provided by the manufacturer or supplier?
- What are the ongoing maintenance costs?
- It’s essential to maintain your filter regularly in line with the manufacturer's instructions. Otherwise, a concentrated dose of the materials you’re trying to filter out may end up in your water.
- Flush your filter before using it, especially if it has been standing for long periods, such as overnight.
- Low levels of natural sediment exist in the water network. Sometimes, this sediment can build up and clog or cause issues with your filter. We can't offer you compensation if this happens.
Water filters only treat symptoms of discoloured or poor-tasting/smelling water, not the causes.
If your water seems different to normal, find out what to do next.
Is fluoride added to the water?
Fluoride is a naturally occurring compound found in plants and rocks.
Melbourne Water adds fluoride to the water supply at the initial treatment stage in line with recommendations from the Department of Health, Fluoridation doesn’t alter the taste or smell of water and it helps protect people of all ages from tooth decay.
Caring for your household appliances and aquariums
The water supplied to your property can affect how you care for your household appliances, such as dishwashers, washing machines, kettles, irons, hot water services and aquariums.
Instruction manuals for your household appliances usually mention water hardness or total dissolved solids (TDS) because these values can affect the operation and maintenance of the appliances.
Find out more about caring for your household appliances and aquariums in this fact sheet.
What is water hardness?
When your drinking water seeps through rock, it collects traces of natural minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron and manganese.
Hardness is a measure of the concentration of these minerals in milligrams per litre (mg/L).
High water hardness makes it difficult to make a lather using soap and can cause scaling in hot water pipes, fittings and appliances.
Is my water hard?
The typical hardness level of water delivered in South East Water's area is between 12 – 45 mg/L which is considered ’soft’ by international standards.