Understanding pipe responsibility
There a two main groups who are responsible for water pipes:
- The water company
- The consumer
The water company is the organisation who provide your home with drinking water.
The consumer is the person living in a home, using water there.
The types of pipes and who maintains them
A table to show what each type of pipe is for, and who is responsible for maintaining it.
|Type of pipe||Usually found under||Responsibility for pipe|
These are the major pipes that carry water to the road you live on.
These pipes connect the water main to your supply pipe.
Supply pipe serving a single property
Supply pipes connect your home to the communication pipe.
Shared supply pipe serving more than one property
A shared supply pipe connects several homes to a communication pipe.
||Joint responsibility of all property owners served by pipe|
Please be aware that the water main or communication pipe that supplies your property may be in a different highway from the one immediately outside your property. The responsibility of the company ends at the boundary of the highway in which the relevant main or communication pipe is laid.
From the boundary of the highway, the water is then supplied to the property through a supply pipe. This means the property owner (or group of property owners where numerous properties are served by the supply pipe) is responsible for their supply pipe, even if it crosses other privately or publicly-owned land before entering their home.
Some properties may also have a secondary stop tap in addition to the controlling stop tap closest to the main – liability for the supply pipe does not change with the presence of a secondary stop tap on the private supply pipe.
Check how your water supply is set up when you move into a new home
If you're moving in to a new home, and the property is over 20 years old, we recommend that you find out about the condition of the pipework.
If supply pipes are neglected it can affect the water supply and damaged pipes can go unnoticed, storing up problems for the future.
Your supply pipe could be 100 years old or more. This can become problematic when you fit modern appliances like washing machines and power showers in older homes as the Victorian pipework is not designed to cope with such high water use.
If you experience poor supply or pressure, it could be due to older pipework, so it's worh finding out how your home is connected and making changes to your pipes if necessary.
The kind of supply your home is likely to have
Generally, different types of homes have different types of supply.
Housing estates, particularly council estates, were usually built with one large pipe running along the back of the homes that feeds into each house, meaning there is shared responsibility for the large pipe.
Of course there could have been many things done to your property since your home was built that means your home doesn't fit into these categories, so it's always best to find out
Pipe responsibility on a shared supply
A shared supply - also often called a joint supply - is where a group of homes connect to our network at the same point. This means all properties share responsibility for repair and maintenance of the pipework.
Find out if you're on a shared supply
You can find out if you're on a shared supply by checking how many external stop taps are outside your home.
External stop taps or boundary boxes are usually found in the pavement at the property.
If there is an external stop tap outside every home on the street, then each home will have its own supply. If there's only one, you are likely to be on a shared supply with your neighbours.