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Leaks should be identified and repaired to avoid wasting water

Changing the washers usually fixes dripping taps. If this does not solve the problem, contact a licensed plumber. Leaking toilets and leaking pipes will generally need to be repaired by a licensed plumber. You can check if you have a leak by recording your meter reading before you go to sleep and comparing it to the reading first thing in the morning.

See how to read your meter

Dripping taps

A few drips per minute may not seem like much, but once you multiply this figure by the number of hours in a day followed by the number of days in a year, it's easy to realise just how precious those few drips really are!

The volume of water lost by a dripping tap will vary depending on the severity of the leak, however it has the potential to waste up to 12,000 litres of quality drinking water per year. That's the entire amount available each year to many people around the world.

Dripping taps occur mainly when fixtures are continuously turned off too tightly and, over time, the pressure on the washer causes it to deteriorate. 

Replacing a tap washer is quite simple, however if you have a hot water system in your ceiling it is recommended you contact a licensed plumber.

How to replace a tap washer

  1. Turn off all water-using appliances, then turn off the water at the meter.
  2. Relieve the water pressure at the nearest tap to the meter.
  3. Turn the dripping tap on all the way.
  4. Undo the tap buttons (if any) and remove the tap handles.
  5. Remove the flange - you may require a multigrip tool.
  6. Scrape away any old silicon around the tap fitting.
  7. Undo the spindle and make sure the body washer is intact. If it is not intact, it will need to be replaced.
  8. Remove the washer and replace it with a new one.
  9. Before replacing the rest of the tap, it is important to make sure that the leak has been fixed. Turn off the taps then turn the water mains tap back on at the meter. If the area is still leaking, the mains will need to be turned off again and the previous steps repeated. Alternatively, you may wish to contact a licensed plumber.
  10. If there are no leaks, replace the flange firmly by hand as well as the tap handles and buttons - tighten these with a shifter so they don't come loose.
  11. If the taps are in a wet area such as a shower, then seal the area around the spindle with silicon to prevent water from getting into the wall cavity - allow a couple of hours before using the tap.

See how to change a tap washer

Leaking toilets

A continuously running toilet can waste up to 96,000 litres of water per year, yet toilet leaks often go unnoticed as the water trickles down the back of the bowl.

Follow these simple steps to check if your toilet has a leak:

  1. Remove the lid of your toilet cistern.
  2. Place a few drops of food dye into the cistern.
  3. Do not flush your toilet for 10-15 minutes.
  4. If the dye has seeped down into the bowl when you return, then you know you have a leak.

Toilet leaks are often a result of the rubber valve in the cistern deteriorating. You can contact a licensed plumber to fix this for you. 

It is important to check your toilet for leaks every few months so you can be sure it is not wasting any water.

See how to check if your toilet is leaking

Checking for leaks

Factsheet - Early Leak Detection (pdf 1.8 MB)