A leak on your business premises: How to check for, locate and handle water leaks

Water leaks are more common than you might think with more than 3bn litres of water lost daily, and when they occur in large business premises or even underground, business owners may not realise they’re happening. One tell-tale sign of a leak is rising business water bills, despite there being no increase in water usage. A leak on site can be the reason your business water bills are on the rise and there seems to be no other explanation. It isn’t uncommon for water leaks to go unnoticed for long periods of time, especially when they occur in underground pipes or on particularly large business premises.

It’s important to remember that as responsible business owners, a water leak on your business premises is your responsibility to fix and you may also be liable for the water lost and the additional costs incurred. However, if the water leak is on the other side of your meter, your wholesaler should deal with the issue. You can see more about who is responsible for which pipes on Ofwat’s website.

Acting quickly is key to the effective handling of water leaks, but first you need to know where to look and find whether a water leak is the likely cause of your issues. Here we’re taking a step-by-step guide through how to check for leaks on your business premises.

Before you begin

Checking for leaks is something best done during down time, perhaps over a weekend when the business premises are closed or in the evening. This is so you can have the water switched off for a prolonged period of time, without causing any disruption to the working day.

Checking for external leaks

External leaks usually occur along the supply pipe which runs between your stop tap and your water meter. To check for external leaks you need to:

1. Locate your water meter. Large business premises often have their meters located underground in a dedicated meter chamber, house or plant room. Smaller business sites will have an internal water meter which is usually located close to where the water pipe enters the building.

2. Find your internal stop tap. This is usually close to where your service pipe enters your premises. To close the stop tap simply turn it clockwise

3. Take a meter reading and then a second reading an hour later.

If you find the water meter reading has changed within this hour, a water leak in your supply pipe is probably the problem.

Checking for Internal Leaks

Internal water leaks can be a little trickier to locate as they can be found in many weird and wonderful places from under sinks to leaking toilet cisterns. Locating the water leak will require the help of a professional, but you can first check whether there is a leak at all by:

1. Turning off all internal appliances that use water. This includes taps, dishwashers and central heating, which many people forget!

2. Leaving the internal stop tap on and take a meter reading before you leave for the day.

3. Taking another meter reading when you return to the premises in the morning.

If the reading is the same then you have no internal leaks but if it has changed then there is probably a leak somewhere within your building.

If you believe you have a water leak, then you need to continue to act quickly to make sure you aren’t overpaying for your business water and potentially wasting water daily. A qualified plumber should be your first stop as they should be able to locate and repair the water leak for you. Ignoring a water leak is not only an unnecessary expense, but it also sends a poor message about your business taking responsibility, especially around water conservation. Similarly, if the water leak gets worse it could cause further problems for your business premises and the surrounding area, so it really is important to act as quickly as possible when you find a water leak.

How can we help with water leaks?

Wave customers should contact us as soon as possible if you think you’ve got a water leak. We can help you complete your stop tap test and help you to find out where the leak is located. Sometimes you may even be eligible for a leakage allowance, so it really does pay to get in touch to see if we can offer this. Different regions do have different leakage policies but we‘ll support you as best we can to work in line with your region’s water regulations.

If you‘re worried about a water leak on your underground pipework we also have a Leakage Find & Fix service which can be tailored fully to your business. You can find out more about it by contacting leakagefindandfix@wave-utilities.co.uk.

Water leaks can become a serious problem if they’re not dealt with quickly and efficiently, so don’t delay and get in touch if you‘ve any concerns.

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