Leaks at home

Abnormally high water bill? It could be a leak

Have you received an unusually high water bill? Or do you just want to be sure your home is as water efficient as possible? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, over the course of one year a typical household leak can waste enough water to do 315 loads of laundry. That’s an extra 20 percent on your water bill. To identify and stop leaks in your home, use the tips and resources below.

Who is responsible for what?

This image shows a water line entering a home. The customer-owned master shut-off valve is located close to where the water line enters the home. A water meter is attached to the water line.

Inside the home

This image shows the property line on a home’s front yard where the private water lines end and public water lines begin. Homeowners are responsible for addressing leaks on their private property. This includes the water pipe that runs from the property line to their home.

Outside the home

While the City owns the water meter, you own all the pipes from inside your home to your property line.
This image shows a curb stop in the front yard of a home. The curb stop is round and metal and sticks out of the ground.

Curb stop

The curb stop is typically located at the property line. The curb stop is a control valve for the water supply to your home that is used to shut off the water in case of an emergency. It is usually located between the sidewalk and the curb.

You are responsible for repairs to any privately owned pipes that are leaking, including the pipe between the property line and the water meter. You are responsible for paying for all water that passes through your water meter, including water from leaks or plumbing malfunctions.

How to detect a household leak and what to do when you find it

Step 1: Use your water meter to detect leaks

  • Ensure there is no water being used on your property. Turn off all water-using appliances and faucets.
  • Locate your water meter. Your property’s water meter is usually located in the basement, where the water pipe enters your home.
  • Locate the low-flow indicator on your water meter. The low-flow indicator is usually a small red or black triangle or dial on the face of the water meter. To help locate your meter’s low-flow indicator, refer to the list of water meters used in Guelph.
  • Check to see if the low-flow indicator on your meter is sensing a leak. If the low-flow indicator is turning, moving or shaking then you might have a leak. If the indicator is moving, this means that water is flowing through the meter and you have a leak. Very slow leaks might not register on your meter’s low-flow indicator. The City recommends checking for leaks on a regular basis.
  • Perform a slow leak detection test. You can use your water meter to check for slow leaks overnight. Record your meter’s reading at night when you are done using water for the day, and then again in the morning before using any water. If the number increased, you have a leak. If you have a water softener, we recommend conducting this test on a night when your water softener is not recharging.

Not sure how to read your water meter? Watch this helpful video: How to read your water meter.

Step 2: Find the leak and repair it

The top causes of water leaks and high water bills in Guelph are caused by toilet leaks, irrigation system leaks, sink and faucet leaks, swimming pool leaks and water softeners that are not working properly.


You may also have water leaks in your home at these sources:
  • Hot water tank
  • Furnace mounted humidifier valves
  • Water-primed floor drain
  • Washing machine
  • Dishwasher
  • Sprinkler system
  • Outdoor hose bib


Important note

It is the responsibility of the homeowner to undertake all necessary plumbing repairs and maintenance inside their home. The City is not responsible for internal plumbing leaks in a private residence. If you are unable to locate the source of a leak or perform the necessary repairs, please contact a qualified plumbing professional.

For more information

Water Services