Water pipe responsibility
Who maintains the pipework, and who to contact if you have any problems.
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||Location of pipe||Responsibility for pipe|
|Water mains: These are the major pipes that carry water to the road you live on||
A water main can be located under the road, under your home, or under land owned by a third party
Communication pipe: These pipes connect the water main to the edge of your property's boundary
|Communication pipes are located under a road and pavement||Water company|
Supply pipe (single property): Supply pipes connect your home to the communication pipe at the edge of your property's boundary
Supply pipes serving a single property are most likely to be under the ground, within your home's property boundaries. They may also be under ground on a third party's land
|Consumer of the water|
Shared supply pipe (multiple properties): A shared supply pipe connects several homes to a communication pipe at the edge of a property's boundary
|Shared supply pipes are most likely to be under the ground within your home's property boundary and those of the other connected homes. They may also be underground on a third party's land||Shared by the people using the water at each connected home|
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.
If you live in a detached house, you'll most likely have a separate supply.
If you live in a semi-detached home, it could be shared or separate. Semi-detached houses built before the 1940s often share their water supply with their neighbour.
Terraced houses built in the Victorian era usually have a shared supply pipe.
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.
Making changes to pipework on a shared supply
If you want to make changes to pipework on a shared or joint supply, it's best to advise your neigbours and discuss the work with them first.
If one of you wants to leave the shared supply, you may find that it makes practical sense for each of the members of the shared supply to switch too. Moving to single supplies at the same time would mean only having to pay for cost of one Highways Permit for the team carrying out the work.
Leaving a shared supply
You can leave a shared supply and connect your home to the network.
You will need to arrange a new connection with us and make sure an accredited plumber relays your private pipework.
We will connect that private pipework to our network once it has been inspected and we have confirmed that it meets the required standards.
It's vital that we are able to check and approve any new private pipework before connection, so we can make sure it's safe to use.
Who to contact if there’s a problem with water pipes in a public space
If you encounter a problem in a public space, such as a leak on a road or pathway, we will be responsible for fixing it.
You can report a problem like this to us on our website, by webchat or by calling our customer care team on 0800 783 4444.
Who to contact if there’s a problem with water pipes at your property
Leaks and bursts on private property are your responsibility. But if you need help, we’ll be able to give you advice on what to do and how to fix the problem.
You may need to contact your insurer before getting in touch with a plumber to make the necessary repairs.
We would recommend that you use a approved plumber near you to carry out any work.