I have a leak in my property and would like to establish the source of it. How can I do that?

When you discover a leak in your property it can be difficult to find out where the water is coming from.

A simple and cost effective way to find out, is by testing the water.

Option 1: Total Chlorine test

Treated water is likely to contain chlorine, which is added to the mains water for sanitary reasons. Therefore, a good test to use is the Total Chlorine test. Chlorine levels in drinking water should be between 0.2 and 2.0ppm. The World Health Organisation has set a health based guideline maximum value of 5ppm (mg/l) for chlorine as a residual disinfectant in drinking water. Total Chlorine measures the amount of free and combined chlorine in water.

A chlorine test works best when the leak contains fresh water because chlorine evaporates over time. If the water has been sitting for a while somewhere, then chlorine may have naturally disappeared and can not be detected anymore.

Option 2: pH test

Another option is to test the pH using wide range water pH test . The pH of water varies depending on its origin. Tap water should have a pH of 6.5 to 9.5. Rain water is usually more acidic, 4 to 5, due to its origin (primarily due to the presence of two strong acids, sulphuric acid (H2SO4) and nitric acid (HNO3)).

Option 3: Nitrate/Nitrite/Hardness/Alkalinity test

If the chlorine and pH tests are inconclusive then a 5in1* test for nitrates, nitrites, hardness and alkalinity might provide further information. The main causes for nitrates in water include agricultural activity, inorganic nitrogenous fertilisers and manures, erosion of natural deposits, leaking from sewer tanks or sewage. The maximum contaminant guideline for nitrate (as NO3) in tap water is 50mg/l and for nitrite (as NO2) is 0.50mg/l. Available as a pack with 25 tests or 5 tests.

(*please note, that the pH range in this particular test does not cover the acidic range and hence might not show acidic rain water. The wide range pH test is recommended.)

Option 4: Water Suite 7-in-1 laboratory test

A laboratory chemistry test which checks the levels of pH, total hardness, Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), conductivity, calcium hardness, M. alkalinity and chloride – helps to compare 2 or more water samples to establish if they are from the same source or not. Take a water sample from the leak as well as surrounding water sources (ie ground water, tap water etc) so the results can be compared to each other.

Often used when it is more tricky to establish the source of a leak or when a laboratory result is required as part of evidence.

Option 5: Test for faecal contamination (bacteria test)

If you suspect that the leak might be from a sewage pipe, then you can test for the presence of faecal bacteria:

From customer feedback it seems that the tests in option 1 & 2  are often effective in establishing the source of a leak. The laboratory test 7-in-1 is recommended when the other tests have been inconclusive or laboratory analysis is required to support the findings.

To use test strips to identify the source of a leak, it is best to test water from different sources around the property, note the result for each and then compare the results to the water in the leak:

  1. Test your tap water,
  2. Test your rainwater (collect some or use water from a water butt or bird table in the garden),
  3. Test groundwater, potential streams, wells and other potential sources of the leak,
  4. Test the water in the leak and
  5. compare all results to find a match.

SimplexHealth Total Chlorine 0-10ppm Water Test (50 strips)

Total Chlorine Test:

These patented Total Chlorine water quality test strips have a high range of detection and are calibrated to be both accurate and sensitive.

Contains: 50 strips

Testing Levels: Method A: 0, 0.1, 0.2, 0.5, 0.8, 4.0, 10.0 ppm (mg/l), Method B: 0, 0.05, 0.1, 0.15, 0.2, 0.5, 1.0 ppm (mg/l)

Total Test time: 33 seconds

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Water Wide Range pH Test Strips 2-12 (50 tests)

Extended Range Water pH Test:

These wide range pH test strips are the convenient measurement tool for pH. It covers nearly the whole pH range from 2 to 12, whilst still measuring smaller increments in the crucial range of 6 to 10, therefore providing accurate results.

Contains: 50 strips per bottle

Testing Levels: pH: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6.5, 7, 7.5, 8, 8.5, 9, 9.5, 10, 11, 12

Total Test time: 30 seconds

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Water Test Kit (5-in-1) Aquaculture/Well (25 strips)

Water Test Kit (5-in-1) Aquaculture/Well (25 strips):

This mini multi-purpose water testing kit tests for 5 different elements: nitrate, nitrite, total hardness, total alkalinity and pH in one test strip.

Contains: 25 strips

Testing Levels:

  • pH (read first): 5.5, 6.5, 7.0, 7.5, 8.0, 8.5, 9.5
  • Total Alkalinity (read second): 0, 40, 80, 120, 180, 300, 720 ppm (mg/l)
  • Total Hardness (read third): 0, 25, 75, 150, 300, 1,000 ppm (mg/l)
  • Nitrite* (read fourth): 0, 0.5, 1, 3, 5, 10, 20 ppm (mg/l)
  • Nitrate *(read fifth): 0, 20, 40, 80, 160, 200 ppm (mg/l)

Total Test time: 1 minute 30 seconds

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Water Suite 7-in-1 (Laboratory Test)

This laboratory test will check the levels of each of 7 elements in your water sample: pH, Total Hardness, Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), Calcium Hardness, Conductivity, M. Alkalinity and Chloride. This kit has been designed to help establish if water samples are from the same source (e.g. for leak detection) and is also useful to establish the scaling and corrosive tendencies/properties of water.

For leak detection: a minimum of 2 samples is needed for a comparison analysis.

Suitable for:  Potable water analysis as well as fresh water samples, including water from tanks, taps, wells, springs, boreholes, ponds, as well as rain water.

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Please note, that whilst it helps to test the water of the leak and the various water sources around a property, this may not be entirely conclusive. This will be the case when chlorine has evaporated from the water in the leak or the pH levels are too similar to make a clear distinction. A number of different tests may be necessary to eliminate potential sources of the leak.

Good luck with identifying the source of the leak!

Further Free Resources:

Got a question about water testing? Try our complete list of Free Water Testing Resources. Here are the most frequently read guides:

If you can’t find what you are looking for then please contact us, as we can source many other test kits. Discounts for bulk purchase available, please contact us to find out more.

Disclaimer: Only opinions based upon our own personal experience or information detailed in academic journals or other publications is cited. This has been done exclusively for anyone who is interested in this subject but is not intended to replace proper analysis. We cannot accept responsibility and liability of any kind which may result from the application of this information. We always recommend to consult an expert to discuss any test results or get a full recommendation on the specific subject and specific to your situation by an expert.

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