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«Code of practice for domestic properties Contents What this leaflet is about 3 Responsibility for water pipes 4 Finding leaks 5 Fixing leaks 6 Your ...»

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When your

water supply

has a leak

Code of practice for

domestic properties


What this leaflet is about


Responsibility for water pipes


Finding leaks


Fixing leaks


Your water bill


Leak allowances if you’ve a water meter


Water meters


Using water wisely


If you wish to make a complaint


Contact information


2 - When your water supply has a leak

What this leaflet is about

If you’re a private individual or organisation who owns a property that is

used for domestic use, this leaflet is for you. It explains:

• How important it is to care for our precious water supply, which is essential to our health and well being

• Who’s responsible for the water pipes in and around your property, as shown in the diagram in the section ‘Responsibility for water pipes’

• What to do if you think you’ve a water leak in any of these pipes and what we’ll do to help you

• The leakage allowances we’ll apply if you have a metered water supply

• The benefits of having a water meter to monitor your usage

• How we can use water more wisely.

When your water supply has a leak - 3 Responsibility for water pipes Our water mains and pipes We’re responsible for the mains that carry water around our region and for the water pipe, known as ‘the communication pipe’, which links your water supply pipe to our water main.

We look after our own water mains and pipes, undertaking regular maintenance and repairs. We also have an extensive programme to replace old mains in poor condition to reduce the number of leaks and bursts.

Your water supply and internal pipes The illustration below shows the water main and water pipes that usually serve a domestic property. As a general rule, you’re responsible for the water supply pipe that runs from the boundary of your property, into your home and for all your internal pipes and fittings.

If your water supply pipe crosses land belonging to someone else, you’re responsible for the pipe from the point where it connects to our water main in the public highway.

Sometimes two or more properties share a single water supply pipe and this is known as a ‘shared supply’. If you have a shared supply and need help or advice on responsibility for its maintenance and repair, please visit thameswater.co.uk/customerleak.

Property boundary I

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4 - When your water supply has a leak Finding leaks On our water mains and pipes We’ve an extensive 24 hour programme in place to detect leaks on our water mains and pipes. We also rely on you to let us know if you see a leak in the road, on a pavement or anywhere else.

We’re grateful to everyone who reports leaks and bursts, which you can do 24 hours a day. Just send a tweet with the location to @thameswater or use #tweetaleak, visit thameswater.co.uk/customerleak and click on ‘Report a leak online’, or call our freephone Leakline 0800 714 614.

On your water supply pipe When looking for leaks, we may find a leak on one of your pipes. If we do we’ll tell you about it and help get the leak repaired to stop the wastage of water.

If you experience reduced water pressure or flow at your cold kitchen tap, you see damp or waterlogged areas in your garden even during spells of dry weather, hear noisy pipework, or receive an unusually high metered bill, you may have a leak.

If you’ve a metered water supply, take regular meter readings and look for any significant and unexpected increase in your use of water that may indicate a possible leak. You can also carry out a simple test to check for

leakage by following these instructions:

• Turn off your stop valve in the home (usually under the kitchen sink)

• Make sure no cisterns are filling or taps are being used

• Read the meter

• Leave the stop valve shut and then read the meter again in half an hour.

The meter dial shouldn’t have moved, as you haven’t been using any water.

If it has moved, there may be a leak between the meter and the stop valve in your house.

If you think your water supply pipe is leaking, call us on 0800 980 8800 24 hours a day. We’ll arrange an inspection and let you know what we can do to help you get the leak fixed. It’s important that all leaks are repaired as quickly as possible and the next section explains how we’ll help you.

When your water supply has a leak - 5 Fixing leaks On our water mains and pipes We repair leaks on the water mains and pipes that belong to us as soon as we can, replacing pipes in poor condition, as part of our ongoing investment programme. Although we make every effort to repair them quickly, we normally need to gain permission from the highway authority before we dig up a footpath or road.

At the time of producing this leaflet, we’ve reduced leakage by more than a third, replaced more than 1,600 miles of worn out Victorian water mains, and met our leakage reduction targets set by our regulator, Ofwat, for each of the past six years.

You can visit thameswater.co.uk 24 hours a day to check current incidents and anything that may be happening in your area.

On your water supply pipe Even though it’s your responsibility to fix a leaking water supply pipe, we offer to replace your water supply pipe free of charge so we can stop the wastage of water. This offer includes shared external supply pipes that serve domestic properties. This free offer applies to water supply pipes up to a length of 25m and 50mm in diameter.

We’ll replace your water supply pipe up to the point it enters the building.

For example, in the case of a house converted into flats, we’ll replace to the point the water supply pipe enters the main building, but not an individual premise, such as an individual flat, within the main building. We’ll make every effort to replace your water supply pipe but if it’s impractical, we’ll carry out a repair instead.

Our free offer applies to the domestic property owner, including individual local authority/housing association properties (not blocks of flats) and domestic properties with a shared water supply pipe. We offer one free replacement or repair per owner per property. This means that if you’ve recently bought a new property and we gave a subsidy or undertook a free replacement/repair for the previous owner, you’ll still be eligible for further help. If there’s a change in tenancy however (not landlord), a further replacement/repair won’t be provided free of charge.

The work we undertake for you will be fully guaranteed. The guarantee period will depend upon whether we replaced or repaired your water supply pipe.

Your guarantee certificate will indicate the guarantee you have and how long the guarantee is valid.

6 - When your water supply has a leak Where possible we’ll use trenchless technology known as ‘moling’ to insert the new pipe. If we have to dig underneath your footpath or driveway, we’ll restore the surface so that it’s safe again for you to use. Please understand, however, that we’re unable to undertake specialist work, for example relay block or crazy paving. In such cases, we’ll make the area safe for you to use but you’ll need to arrange for a specialist to relay your surface to its original condition.

Either you can ask us to do the replacement (or repair) free of charge and then you arrange for a specialist to undertake the reinstatement work at your expense, or you can make your own arrangements to get your water supply pipe replaced or repaired. If you decide not to take up our free offer of replacement (or repair) and make your own arrangements, you’ll be responsible for paying all costs.

If you do arrange for your own plumber to do the work and fix the leak, it must be fixed within six weeks of the date we confirmed the leak. If you don’t do this, we’ll send you a legal notice, under Section 75 of the Water Industry Act 1991, explaining that we’ll fix the leak in accordance with our statutory duties. We may look to recover reasonable costs from you if we have to issue this legal notice.

On fittings inside your home If you’re the owner of the property you’re responsible for fixing any leakage or wastage from the pipework, fixtures or fittings inside your property. Under Section 73 of the Water Industry Act 1991 we’ve a legal duty to ensure that water supplied by us isn’t wasted, as it’s a criminal offence to waste water.

As the owner of the property, you’re responsible for all internal water fittings.

If you intentionally or negligently cause water supplied by us to be wasted, you can face a maximum penalty of £1,000.

If we identify wastage of water from your internal pipework, fixtures or fittings, we’ll give you advice about getting the leak fixed. We’ll also write to you explaining your legal responsibilities and ask you to complete the repair within six weeks.

When your water supply has a leak - 7 Your water bill If you don’t have a water meter Your water bill is based on the chargeable value (previously known as the rateable value) of your property and is a set annual charge for all your water usage. Although the local authorities’ rating system was abolished in 1990, the chargeable value still remains valid for calculating water service charges where the water supply isn’t connected to a meter. Council Tax bands have no bearing on the chargeable value of a property. In cases where the Council Tax band is changed, your chargeable value remains the same.

As you pay a set annual charge for all your water usage, we don’t need to adjust your charges for any water lost through a leaking supply pipe, as your annual bill remains the same.

If you do have a water meter Your meter will record all the water that passes through it, including any water lost through a leaking supply pipe. This means that your water and wastewater bill will be based on the water you have actually used, as well as any water lost because of the leak. However, we do give a leakage allowance to the person who pays the bill, in specific circumstances.

8 - When your water supply has a leak Leak allowances if you have a water meter If you’ve a water meter and are the owner occupier, the landlord or the tenant who pays the bill, you’ll be eligible for a leak allowance once the water

supply pipe has been replaced or repaired, as long as:

• The leak is repaired within six weeks of the leak being confirmed

• You make a claim for an allowance within three months of the date of repair, even if you haven’t yet received a water bill for this property

• The leak wasn’t caused through negligence

• You haven’t been given an allowance for a water leak at the same property

• We haven’t needed to issue you with a Section 75 notice because the leak was not repaired within the time allowed

• The leak was on your external water supply pipe and not on your internal fixtures and fittings.

The leakage allowance is applied per customer per property. This means that if you’re granted an allowance at your current address, it doesn’t prevent you from claiming an allowance for your new property if you move home.

Similarly, if we’ve replaced (repaired) your water supply pipe and it leaks within the guaranteed period, we’ll make an additional allowance where claimed.

If you don’t meet the above criteria for a leak allowance but feel there are exceptional circumstances, please let us know and we’ll consider your claim on its own merits.

Calculating a leakage allowance As soon as you tell us you have a leak, we’ll let you know how you can claim an allowance. Once we’ve repaired the leak, or had confirmation that the leak has been repaired (within six weeks of it being confirmed), we’ll calculate and apply an allowance as soon as is reasonably practical.

When your water supply has a leak - 9 If your property has its own water supply and meter, calculation of an allowance is straightforward. The adjustment of your water and wastewater charges* will be based on comparing how much water you used in the past with the amount of water recorded by the meter during the time you had a leak. The allowance applied to your water services account will be the difference between the two amounts. If there’s no record of past use, an adjustment will be made based on typical water use for a similar property household. This calculation will be based on your property size and number of occupants.

The maximum leak allowance is given for ‘two billing periods’. This normally means giving you an allowance for the period covered by your last two meter readings, plus the leak repair time of a maximum of four weeks.

If, after we have adjusted your bill, you don’t feel the allowance truly reflects the difference between the amount of water you normally would have used and the amount recorded on your meter because of the leak, please let us know. We’ll review the allowance and let you know our decision.

* If we supply your water and another company provides your wastewater services, we’ll let them know so they can apply an allowance to your wastewater account.

Properties used for both domestic and commercial purposes Where the leak is on your water supply pipe delivering water to both commercial and domestic areas of your site or property, for example a shop with a flat above, we’ll agree a percentage adjustment with you. We’ll then calculate the total amount lost to leakage and apply the appropriate leakage allowance according to the domestic/commercial split of the property affected.

10 - When your water supply has a leak Water meters Keeping an eye on what you use If you’ve a metered water supply, your water and wastewater bill is based on the amount of water recorded through your meter, plus a fixed charge which includes the costs of billing and handling customer enquiries, as well as surface and highway drainage. Taking regular readings will help you keep an eye on the amount of water you use and will help to spot potential leakage.

Getting a water meter fitted If you don’t pay on the basis of a water meter, you may wish to consider doing so and we fit meters free of charge. For some customers, particularly those with low usage, this has resulted in lower water and wastewater bills.

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