Residential Maintenance

Do You Have a Water Leak?

Is your water bill high? Water leaks can be costly. The City of St. Albert provides comprehensive information about understanding water usage, the financial impacts of leaks, and how to troubleshoot leaks in your property.

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Understanding Water Usage

Water usage will vary depending on factors such as usage, occupancy level, and time of year.

Examples of increased water usage

  • Malfunctioning toilet(s)
  • Seasonal watering of trees, lawn and/or garden which is amplified when automated irrigation systems, sprinklers or hoses are on too long and at the wrong time of day.
  • Filling a hot tub, swimming pool, and/or building a backyard hockey rink.
  • Leaky faucets and outside hose bibs
  • Water-intensive appliance(s) or equipment (e.g., water softener, humidifier and/or air conditioner) that use more water at certain times of the year.
  • Increased occupancy
  • Long showers or filling a bathtub frequently
  • Increased business, hours of operation, or means of production.

Water and wastewater treatment charges are calculated on actual water volume recorded passing through the water meter.

Faulty water meters slow down over time, record less consumption, and eventually can stop and record no consumption at all. Water meters do not speed up, record excessive usage and then return to normal.

If water consumption has increased, consider whether your household’s water use has changed and check inside and outside for leaks.

The Financial Impact of Leaks

If a leak goes undetected, there can be a significant financial impact. The City of St. Albert charges per cubic meter (m³) or 1,000 litres of water, and the following chart provides an example of the financial impact of different severities of a toilet malfunction:

Type of LeakVolume of wasted water*Increased cost on monthly utility bill

Small leak

e.g. chain tangled in tank

240 L/day (10L/hour)


7 m³ /month


Medium leak

e.g. improper float position, flapper not sealing properly

500-2,400 L/day (20-100L/hour)


15–72 m³ /month

$51.75 - $248.40

Large leak

e.g. flapper vale stuck wide open

24,000 L/day (1,000L/hour)


720 m³ /month


* Volume can vary depending on the type of toilet and type of leak.
** Estimate based on applicable 2019 water & wastewater treatment rates for St. Albert.

As per Water Bylaw 5/2001 20(2)(a), customers are required to pay for water that has been recorded by the water meter.

What to do if your water bill is higher than normal?

  • Determine if your household habits have changed recently.
  • Determine if there are any leaks in your home. If a leak is found, repair it as soon as possible. If you require assistance, speak to your local hardware store or plumber.
  • Contact Utility Services at 780-459-1520, Option 2 with questions about water consumption.
  • Your water meter can also be tested for accuracy; however, there is a $75.00 charge* if the water meter is determined to be recording correctly.

* The charge will be refunded if the water meter records consumption at a level greater than 105% or less than 95% of the measured volume of water used in the test.

Perform a Water Leak Test

Performing a simple water meter check will help determine if there is a leak.

E-Coder Water Meter Test

1. Do not use any water during the check.

2. Find your water meter (pictured), which is usually located in the basement.

3. Open the cap and shine a flashlight over the solar panel (located on the register) to activate the LCD.

  • The LCD will toggle between the flow rate and total consumption every six seconds when illuminated.
  • The nine-digit LCD will display your meter reading in cubic meters and flow rate in litres per minute.
  • If a flow rate illuminates, water is flowing through the meter and has a leak or is using water 

Neptune E-CoderDetailed Water Meter Display

4. If you suspect you have a leak, you can record your water meter reading display before going to bed, and again when you wake up in the morning to compare. If the numbers are different, there could be an intermittent water leak such as a very slowly leaking toilet which gets topped up every hour, a humidifier on your furnace or air conditioner using water when they operate. If the usage is significant, investigate what could be using that much water after hours, such as a timer on an irrigation system.

5. If you are experiencing a continuous or intermittent leak, please refer to the Troubleshooting Leaks section for help determining the location of the leak.

6. AMI Water meters have sophisticated indicators on the reading panel, which will display a leak and flow indicator.

Leak Indicator

Displays a possible leak

Flow Indicator

Displays direction of water flow

OFFIndicates there are no leaksONWater in use
FlashingIndicates water usage for more than 50% of the time during 24 hoursOFFWater not in use
Continuous ON

Indicates water usage at least once every 15 minutes for 24 hours.

There is most likely a leak at your property/business

(-)Indicates reverse flow
(+)Indicates forward flow


Troubleshooting Leaks

Please note, the City does not provide service calls for leaks. Residents are required to maintain appliances/systems in their own property.

Common items which can leak


Testing your toilet for a leak

To Test your toilet

1. Drop a dye table (available at Utility Services in City Hall) or food colouring into your toilet tank

2. Wait 5-15 minutes

3. If the dye appears in your toilet bowl, the toilet is running and you have a leak

4. Review troubleshooting and repair techniques

Repair your toilet

Toilet leaks are usually easy and inexpensive to repair. A local hardware store can help you by suggesting ways you can fix leaks or replace fixtures. Or call your local plumber.

You can also adjust several components in your toilet, which may also reduce leaks:

  • Adjusting the float ball or float rod to be higher or lower
  • Adjusting the chain or ensuring it is not tangled

Shut off Your Toilet

If you are unable to repair a toilet as recommended above, shutting the water service to a toilet off will temporarily stop the leak until the toilet can be fully repaired.

The toilet shut off valve is typically located near the base, behind the toilet, and will shut off water to the toilet only.

Example toilet shut-off valve

Example of a toilet shut off valve

Irrigation Systems

Irrigation systems use a tremendous amount of water. Properly setting the timing (evening), the duration (amount) of watering and monitoring your irrigation system properly will reduce the amount of water used. Ensure to winterize your system annually. For more information, refer to St. Albert Water Conservation Bylaw 22/2015.


Ensure outside taps are firmly turned off when not in use and remove garden hoses before freeze up.


Ensure your water softener is regularly serviced and functioning properly.


Improperly set needle valve for humidifier on furnaces results in unnecessary water going straight to the drain.


While the most common sources of leaks are listed, any system or appliance that has a connection to a water line can fail and leak.

Vacant Dwellings

It is recommended residents shut the water off at the master shut off value if they are going to be away for several days, or if the dwelling is vacant.

The master shut-off value is generally located in the basement, just before the water meter. Once the water is shut off, turn on a faucet to ensure the water is turned off.

Master water shut-off valve

Example master shut off valve

How much water does a leaky toilet waste?

This simulation by Epcor shows how much water a toilet can use if a leak occurs and goes undetected.

Epcor is a utility provider for the Edmonton capital region.

Additional Maintenance Information

Schedule Water Turn Offs

Requests for water service disconnections (shut off) or reconnections (turn on) during regular business hours of 7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. can be directed to the City of St. Albert Utilities Branch at 780-459-1557 or via Utilities Website Request. For any emergency disconnections outside regular business hours please contact the After-Hours Water and Wastewater Emergency Contact 780-458-2020.

Excepting non-emergent disconnections, Utilities shall normally complete water service disconnections or reconnections within 5 business days of the request.

An individual of the age 18 years and older must be present for all water turn disconnections or reconnections as requested by the designated Utility Account Holder.

A Reconnection Fee shall be applied to the utility account in accordance with the Water Bylaw 5/2001:

  • $75.00 if the Customer requests that reconnection is to take place during regular business hours of the City (7:30 am – 4:30 pm Monday through Friday excepting Statutory Holidays)
  • $115.00 if the Customer requests that reconnection take place outside of the regular business hours of the City (Outside of regular business hours)

The Utilities Branch personnel are the only individuals permitted to operate a City-owned water service valve.

The City does not operate the cc water valve for requests relating to 'snow bird' activities and the property owner maintains the responsibility to ensure that the internal plumbing system is protected from freezing and damage during their absence.

Preparing for Winter

Please see the following tips to prevent damage from freezing temperatures:

  • Isolate your hose bib with an internal stop and drain isolation valve (if available).
  • Disconnect your garden hoses from the hose bib.
  • Empty your rain barrel and flip it upside down for the winter.
  • Inspect and clean your eavestroughs and downspouts.
  • You can also visit Water Services for tips about maintaining your sump pump throughout the winter months.

Raised Water CC Valves

Due to the freeze and thaw in the spring, the curb cock (cc) valve on your lawn or driveway may have raised up and will need to be lowered. To report a location please contact Public Works at 780-459-1557. Your address will be added to an inspection list and work will not begin on these locations until the end of May when the frost has completely left the ground.

Related Pages

Last edited: April 28, 2022