Pipes are watertight when they are laid in the ground. However, although we may not notice it, the ground often moves when there is a very hard frost, an excess of water or when it dries out in the summer months. Over 30% of all leakage is from customer's pipes, dripping taps and cistern overflows. This movement can cause pipes to pull apart at the joints or crack and consequently leak valuable water. In addition, the physio-chemical properties of some soils will sometimes speed corrosion, especially on iron pipes, to cause leaks.
If you have a leak on your supply pipe, it is your responsibility (if you are the property owner) to ensure that the leak is repaired promptly. There are a number of simple checks you can do to check whether you have a leak:
If you have a meter, make sure that no water is being used in the property and that all taps are turned off, then simply look at the meter for a couple of minutes. None of the dials should move. If they do then there may be a leak on the supply pipe
If you have automatic flushing urinals check that they are set properly. They should only flush once every 20 minutes
You can use your meter to investigate possible reasons for higher water consumption or to determine the amount of water used by various appliances
If a nightly meter reading check indicates no leakage then you may have another reason for high water consumption. These can include watering your garden, using a power shower, having dripping taps, having a swimming pool or pond, or just having extra people in your home. If this is the case consult your Local Water Authority for advice.
Below is an example of a water meter. The black dials with white numbers are reading 704m³ (cubic metres), which is the equivalent of 704,000 litres. The red dials with white numbers measure from left to right; hundreds of litres, tens of litres and lastly single litres. The silver dial in the centre of the meter is the most sensitive dial and will measure something as small as a drip.
Externally fitted meters can be found in a meter chamber at the property boundary in the footpath or in your garden. The meter is connected to the supply pipe at the bottom of the chamber.