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Your home

Homeowner responsibilities
Basement flooding
Checking for leaks
Common leak culprits
Cost of leaks
Pipe maintenance

If you suspect you have a leak, the first step is to check your meter’s low flow indicator. If the low flow indicator is moving and no water is being used inside or outside your home, you have a leak.

Once you’ve determined you have a leak, locate it by starting with the most common household leaks. Watch our video about how to find a household water leak.

Inside the home


A quick and easy way to check for a toilet leak is to place a few drops of food colouring into the toilet tank. Wait 30 minutes - if the food colouring appears in the bowl, then a leak is present. Make sure to flush the toilet after the test to clear the dye.

If your toilet is leaking, check the following things:

  1. FlapperThe flapper is the main cause of leaky toilets. To replace the flapper, turn off the water and flush the toilet to empty the tank. Remove the flapper. Take the old flapper to the store to purchase a replacement. Before installing the new flapper clean the area to remove any build up and ensure a proper seal.

  2. Check to see if the water level in the tank is below the overflow tube. If the water level is too high, water will go needlessly down the drain. The water level should be a half inch to 1 inch below this tube.

  3. Check the chain that is attached to the flapper. If the chain is kinked, the flapper may not close properly.

Please consult your owner’s manual for more information, or contact a licensed plumber.


Faucet leaks are often visible. If your faucet drips once the taps are turned off tightly, you have a leak.

Even a small faucet leak can waste water. A faucet that drips one drop per second can waste 200 litres of water per week – that is enough water to flush a 6L toilet 33 times.

Faucet leaks happen when washers, O-rings, or seals inside the faucet are dirty or worn down. Fixing a leaky faucet by replacing these parts is generally easy. Remember to turn off the water before doing any repairs.

For more information please contact a licensed plumber.

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Furnace humidifier

Furnace humidifiers, which help moisten dry air, usually have a direct connection to a home’s water system via copper pipe.

There are two main types of humidifiers - a drum and a flow through. Drum humidifiers only use water from a tray and very rarely leak. For a flow through model, water goes through a screen and down the drain.

To check for leaks, see if humidifier is running when the furnace is off. If it is running, this means that the switch on the humidifier is stuck open. Also make sure the humidifier is not set too high. If it is set too high, you will use water unnecessarily.

Please consult your owner’s manual for more information, or contact a licensed plumber.

Primer lines

A primer line is a clear tube that connects to either the laundry taps or to a toilet. A primer line keeps water in the basement floor drain trap to prevent sewer gas from coming into the house.

There are three ways to tell if primer line is leaking:

  1. You hear a noise coming from the laundry taps or the toilet attached to a primer line.
  2. When you look at the line, you see water running continuously through the tube.
  3. If you lift off the cover of the basement floor drain, you see water continuously running into drain.

For more information, contact a licensed plumber.

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Dishwasher leaks are most likely to occur around the door or underneath the dishwasher. If the dishwasher is leaking at the door, the likely cause is the gasket - the rubber strip that seals the water in. A worn gasket should be replaced.

A dishwasher that isn’t level may also produce leaks. To check, open the dishwasher and place a carpenter’s level on the floor of the dishwasher or on its door. If it’s not level, adjust the feet, found along the front of the dishwasher.

If you notice damage in the tub, you can use an epoxy patch kit to repair it, following the kit’s directions. Also check any hoses to ensure that connections are tight and there are no signs of damage.

Please consult your owner’s manual for more information, or contact a licensed plumber.

Outside the home:

Outside Taps

To avoid a burst pipe during the winter, make sure to turn off all outside taps in the fall using the shut off valve inside your home.

In the spring, when you’re confident the frost is over, turn the shut off valve back on from inside your home and check the outside tap to ensure that it is not dripping.

If the outside tap is dripping from the spigot, you may need to replace the faucet washer. Make sure to turn the water off from inside the house before replacing the washer.

If the outside tap is leaking around the handle, try tightening the nut just under the handle.

In-ground sprinkler system

You may be able to tell if your in-ground sprinkler system is leaking by surveying the area that the system covers. You may have a leak if:

  • There are areas that are particularly overgrown or green
  • Soggy areas around spray heads or above sprinkler lines
  • Sprinkler heads don’t pop-up when you turn on your system,

To check for a leak in your in-ground sprinkler system, check your flow monitor on the water meter or watch our video about finding leaks in your sprinkler system. Remember to make sure you aren’t using any water inside your house and you turn off the water supply to your sprinkler system.

  • Check the leak detector on your water meter. If the leak detector is moving you have a leak inside. See the common leaks above.
  • If the leak detector is not moving, turn on the water supply to the irrigation system and check the leak detector again. If it is moving you have a leak in the sprinkler system.
  • Next, run through all of the zones using your irrigation controller. Check to make sure all sprinkler heads pop-up and that the zones are operating correctly.

For more information, or to fix the leak, contact a lawn care or irrigation specialist.

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Revised: Thursday August 24 2017


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