Water meter leaking: who is responsible?

If you think you’ve got a water meter leak, you’ll want to get the problem sorted as soon as possible. You might be charged for water you haven’t used if you leave the leak unresolved. Often, a leaking water meter isn’t noticed until you check it. We’d encourage everyone to look at their water meter every few months to catch any problems early on.

In this article, we’ll look at why leaks occur, and who is responsible for fixing them.

Why do water meters leak?

Water meters can start leaking for several reasons, including:

  • Wear and tear
  • Faulty seals or gaskets
  • Loose connections
  • Burst pipes caused by freezing or corrosion
  • High water pressure
  • Poor installation

Who is responsible for fixing a water meter leak?

The water company is responsible for maintaining pipes in the water supply system that are outside of a property boundary. That means if water is leaking from the meter itself, and it’s outside of the property boundary, the water company is responsible for getting it fixed.

The property owner is usually responsible for paying for repairs of the water meter and underground water supply pipes within the property boundary. Similarly, if the leak is found to be beneath the internal floor of the property, it will be the responsibility of the property owner to fix the leak.

Property boundaries

Property boundaries usually determine who is responsible for water supply leaks. There are different types of underground water supply pipes:

  • Water mains: large pipes that carry water throughout the network. Usually beneath roads and pavements. The water companies maintain them
  • Communication pipes: these connect from the water mains to the property boundary. They’re also the responsibility of the water company.
  • Water meters: they’re most commonly outside of the property boundary. If they are, the water company is responsible for fixing leaks on them. If they’re within the property boundary though, the property owner is usually responsible for maintenance and repairs.
  • Supply pipes: these connect the water meter to the property up to the point of the internal stop tap (also known as a stop valve or stopcock). If they’re beneath the property boundary, they’re the responsibility of the property owner to maintain and fix.

water leak

My water meter hole is full of water: is there a leak?

Have a look at your meter. In dry weather, the hole the meter sits in should be dry. If you notice that the hole is full of water, or there’s a damp patch, there could possibly be a leak.

How much water is being wasted?

Regardless of where your meter is located, if water that’s leaking has passed through the meter, you’ll be getting charged for wasted water.

If you don’t know how much you’re paying for wasted water from a leaking meter, you can do a simple test. This can check for a leak in the supply pipes. It can also be used to estimate the amount of water leaking.

  1. Turn off stop tap inside the property to ensure no water to being used
  2. Read your water meter
  3. Wait for as long as possible (ideally several hours)
  4. Take another meter reading

Your water company can determine the amount of water being wasted every week.

If you think you have a water meter leak

  • Call your water company: before contacting an approved plumber, report the issue to your water company straight away. You’ll be asked to send them photo evidence. They’ll then do an assessment and let you know if the leak is your responsibility or theirs.
  • Call outs: response times for water meter leaks can vary. Some water companies will aim to have leaks fixed within 12 hours for serious cases. For less critical leaks, this may be longer. However, if they’re responsible for fixing the leak and they fail to do so, you should ask ofwat.gov.uk for assistance.

Book a leak detection specialist

If you’re responsible for the leak, you should book an Aspect leak detection specialist. They can check for a leak in a water supply pipe underground between the meter and a property, even if it’s buried beneath a driveway, path or concrete slab.

Don’t panic: Book an Aspect leak detection expert. They can do a full investigation and any repairs needed.

We understand that leaving issues like these can cost you money. That’s why we’re available 24/7 and can arrange for emergency call-outs.

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What others have said

  • my water meter has stopped working & it's inside the communal area of our flats along with water meters for all other flats, ours has stopped working but there is a Media (ariels/internet etc) board been put in front of the meters and the landlords are not wanting to remove it - can I insist the Water Company insist they have proper access to their meter?

  • Hi Ellen, If your water meter has stopped working, you should contact your water company to investigate the problem. If access to it has been blocked by the installation of a board, they'll probably insist the property owners have it removed or relocated. Access to the meter shouldn't be restricted as you've explained. You should be able to check meter readings whenever needed. I hope this helps.

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