Cost Advisor

Water Meter Leaking? Here Is What You Can Do.

May 9, 2019

Is your water bill suspiciously higher than usual? It’s possible that the problem is a faulty meter, but it is more likely that you have a plumbing leak somewhere in your property.

An easy way to check for a leak is by monitoring your water meter. First, you’ll need to turn off all water outlets within your property, then observe the water use dial on your meter. This is a small rotating wheel that measures even small amounts of water flow. If this flow indicator continues to spin, you have a leak and need to call in a plumber.

Euro Plumbing can assist with fault finding and repairs

While your water meter can tell you whether or not you have a plumbing leak, it does not tell you where the leak is located. For this part, you’ll need a reliable plumber.

Euro Plumbing uses leak detection methods that help save you money by accurately pinpointing the location of a leak so you don’t unnecessarily excavate trenches or open walls.

One of the methods we use is acoustic/sound leak detection and tracing. When water leaks from pipes that are under pressure (i.e. underground or inside walls), they cause friction which creates noise. The pipes themselves oscillate and create sounds. These sound waves are picked up by our specialist detection equipment.

Residential vs. commercial metering

Water companies typically charge homeowners and business operators differently for their water and sewer usage. So we basically have two types: domestic meters and non-domestic meters.

Homes have a dedicated water meter, while apartment complexes and commercial buildings have shared meters. A shared meter means the units of building share the same water meter, so tenants usually pay equal shares of the bill regardless of their actual usage. This arrangement makes it harder to check for a leak since tenants cannot tell from their bill if there’s a significant change in their consumption.

Nevertheless, a small leak raises the bill by up to 10 per cent. So if you suspect one, have it checked right away.

Is the fault on the private side or public side?

Whether or not you are responsible for the leak repair depends on where the it is located.

If the leak is somewhere on the pipes running from the watermains to your water meter, then your water company is responsible. In Auckland, that would be Watercare.

Faults on the ‘public’ side include:

  • Incorrect readings on the water meter.
  • Not being able to isolate the water meter. (shut off water)
  • Leak on the water meter or upstream of water meter.

If any of this happens, you should call your utility operator and have them fix the problem. Watercare typically carries out repairs within the same day at no charge.

If the leak is somewhere in the pipes running from the water meter to your property, then it is a private fault which must be addressed by you. Depending on how bad the leak is, it’s best to isolate the water main supply by shutting off the gate valve (clockwise) in your water meter box. If you can’t find this, you may ring Watercare for assistance. Once you’ve turned off the gate valve, get a plumber on site for an assessment and necessary interventions.

Difference between main water meters and sub water meters

Sub-metering is an option for apartments and block commercial properties. Here’s how it works: The water company installs a main meter connected to the water main supply, and then the landlord may have subsidiary or sub meters installed for each of the units in a property.

Since sub meters are on the private side, you as the homeowner or property manager should have it installed by a qualified plumber.

Euro Plumbing has installed hundreds of these in and out of Auckland. We’ve had homeowners calling us to install sub meters for their granny flats or apartment flats. It’s a good selling point when they are renting out a unit or section of their property, since tenants will only pay for what they use.

Faults and repairs

If the water meter does not indicate a leak, you may have a faulty meter. Call Watercare and have them check if your meter is working properly. They would also replace faulty meters at no cost to you.

If the leak is caused by a damaged watermain pipe, the pipe needs to either be repaired or replaced. Take note that there are considerations in pipe size and flow rates for sanitary fixtures connecting to the water supply. Plumber can help your figure this out as you are getting quotes. But just be wary of cowboy plumbers who offer rates that are too good to be true – most of the time they are.

To give you a better idea of the scope of work involved, here are the methods used for watermain repairs and/or replacement:

  • Directional drilling – This method is preferable if you are installing the watermain in a concrete area, which is typically expensive to cut and reinstate. Directional drilling involves drilling a hole on the concrete from one side to the other underground, then installing the new watermain through to its new location from the water meter box.
  • Installation via excavation – In non-concrete areas, excavation is usually the most economical method. The ground can either be dug manually or using a machine. This makes the job easier.

Get compensation for all the lost water from Watercare

Watercare offers a rebate or leak allowance to encourage ratepayers to fix leaks immediately. The longer you put leak repairs on hold, your chances of claiming a full allowance becomes slimmer. The ideal time is within a week or two from the time the leak is detected.

Here’s how to apply:

1.Fix the leak
2.Apply-Online. Log in to your account via MyAccount and select ‘Apply for a leak allowance’ at the top bar.
-Email. Download and fill out the leak allowance application form. Scan and email a copy to:
-By post. Send the filled out application form to Watercare, Private Bag 94010, Auckland 2241.

Watercare will not actually give you money but rather they will deduct your leak allowance from your next bill after you have fixed the leak.

The allowance covers any excess water use based on your typical use. Watercare compares your average daily water usage for the same period in the previous year and this year, and compensates for the difference in use. For example, if your average usage is 300 litres per day for the months between January to April last year and your average usage for the same period this year is 550 litres per day, your leak allowance will be for 250 litres per day.

For business customers, the leak allowance is for excess wastewater only.

If you have another leak within two years of receiving the allowance, you may apply for a rebate once again. However, the second leak allowance will only cover the excess wastewater charges.

To avoid having another leak soon, make sure to use reliable Auckland plumbers to fix your leak the first time. Leaks repairs may cost more than the compensation for the excess water use.

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