How to detect and fix water leaks on your property

Knowing how to find and fix leaks on your property will prevent wastage and excessive usage which could lead to notice or warning letters from your municipality.

This is particularly important for registered indigent households, especially property owners with tenants or backyarders. With the new Council-approved domestic metering approach, registered indigent households need to ensure they use less than 15 000 litres per month to avoid restriction.

The City of Cape Town has reminded residents that in terms of its Water By-Law, a property owner is required to ensure water is not allowed to run to waster on their properties. Many Capetonians are not aware that undetected or underground leaks on their plumbing could be adding significantly to their water bills. These kinds of minor undetected leaks are much more common.

Knowing how to detect and to fix leaks is important. One leaking toilet can waste between 2 600 and 13 000 litres of water per month, depending on the flow rate of the leak and a leaking tap can waste between 400 and 2 600 litres of water per month.

In a new approved usage limit as part of the City of Cape Town’s new approach to domestic water metering, indigent households need to ensure that their water use remains below the extended usage limit of 15 000 litres per month. This amounts to an average of 500 litres per day for the total household.

Should users exceed this limit for three consecutive months, despite warnings, a flow restricting disk will be inserted on their meter which will limit water supply to 6 000 litres per month for a period of twelve months.

How to detect and fix leaks quickly and save money:

Steps to check for leaks on your property

  1. Stop all water use. Close all the taps on the property and do not flush the toilet.
  2. Check and record the water meter reading.
  3. Wait for at least 15 minutes and take another reading.  Make sure that nobody has opened a tap or flushed the toilet since the meter reading was taken.
  4. If there is a difference, then the leak will have to be fixed. If the number on the meter has increased, then it means that a leak has been detected and fast action will need to be taken.
  5. Unless it is a simple DIY job, residents are encouraged to call a plumber to fix the leak.

Three simple tests to detect a toilet leak:

  1. Listen for the water trickling into the toilet bowl.
  2. Press a piece of toilet paper against the inside back surface of the bowl.  If it gets wet, you probably have a leak.
  3. Put 15 drops of food colouring into the toilet cistern. If after 15 minutes the water in the toilet bowl has changed colour, then there is a leak.  If you cannot afford to call a plumber to fix a serious toilet problem, use the little stopcock/angle valve tap at the base of the toilet to keep it turned off between flushes.