Water leaks and basic repairs
When it comes to residential and household leaks, toilets and faucets are the most common culprits, although any water using device can eventually leak.
Learn more about how much water an average person uses and find tips for saving water and money in your home. Visit Saving Water in Your Home.
Making repairs during COVID-19:
- If you require supplies to fix your leak, shop at less busy times or better yet, order online for delivery.
- Visit hardware stores by yourself and keep your trips to an absolute minimum. Consider curb-side pick-up instead of entering the store.
- If you are having trouble fixing a leaky toilet, or cannot access supplies, consider turning off the toilet for the time being if you have more than bathroom in your home.
- If you require a plumber to enter your home for an emergency repair follow all recommended precautions and remain six feet away from the technician at all times.
How much do leaks really cost?
The average Calgarian uses approximately 7,000 litres every month. That’s a cost of $19.50.* This covers treating drinking water and delivering it to your home, as well as taking away wastewater (sewage) and treating it before returning it to our rivers.
Even though leaks can range in size, the sooner you repair them the better. The costs can really add up.
A chain caught under a toilet flapper can waste 3,000 litres a month. A leak this size could increase your bill by $8.36. A broken or worn-out flapper could waste 450,000 litres per month. The average 5-minute shower uses 35 litres of water so 450,000 litres represent 12,856 showers – and $1253.25 on your monthly bill!
In the case of a leaky faucet one drop per second can waste 2,500 litres a month. A leak this size could increase your bill by $6.97. A small stream of water can waste 15,000 litres a month.** That’s equivalent to 42,000 cups of coffee. A leak that size could cost $41.78 each month and double your costs.
A steady flow of water from a faucet accidentally left running can waste 360,000 litres in a month. A full bath averages 150 litres of water so 360,000 litres represent 2400 baths, about seven years’ worth of bathing. It would also increase your monthly bill by $1002.60. ***
Volume of water can vary based on type of fixture and water pressure. Assumes a 30-day billing period.
* Based on 2022 water rate ($1.39/m3) and wastewater rate ($1.55/m3) for Calgary. Not including service charges.
** Based on modeling of possible flow rate of 1” diameter residential service line.
*** Based on a 2.2 gallons per minute tap aerator as per bylaw requirement.
**** Not all of the water delivered to your home over 12 months is returned to the wastewater system. The wastewater usage is your water usage multiplied by 0.90 to reflect that over the course of the year you return around 90% of the water used to the wastewater system. This percentage is used year round and recognizes seasonal fluctuations where you send more water to the wastewater treatment system in the winter months and less during the summer months because of outdoor activities like watering.
How to check for leaks
Most leaks are silent, which means you may not see evidence like a large puddle. Make sure to check for leaks – indoor and outside – every six months.
Toilets are the number one source of residential water leaks. If you suspect your toilet may be leaking, take the Leaky Toilet Test:
- Drop - Put drops of food colouring into the toilet tank and wait 10 minutes.
- Peek - Look in the bowl. If the water changes colour, you've got a leak.
- Repair - If the water changes, your toilet is leaking and needs repair.
- Save - By repairing just one toilet, you will save water and money.
Use your water meter to check for leaks. In Calgary most water meters are installed inside the house where the water pipe enters your home. This is usually in the basement, near your main water shut-off valve.
- Turn off all taps and water appliances (dishwashers, washing machines).
- Watch the flow register on the face of the meter. The register could look like a gear (round or triangular, black or red) or a needle depending on the model of meter you have.
- If it keeps turning, you have a leak somewhere in your house.
- 4. Check all water devices, such as your taps, humidifier, hot water heater and water softener. Use our High Water Consumption Investigation Checklist.
What to do when you find a leak?
- Follow our toilet repair or faucet repair steps if those devices are the issue.
- Visit a hardware store for repair tips and parts.
- Search for related YouTube videos or how-to books with detailed instructions.
If you aren’t able to fix the leak yourself, or have trouble finding the leak, hiring a professional plumber is the best solution.