This advice applies to England. Change country
If you pay for your water on a meter and suspect your bill is high, this might be because there is a water leak or overflow. You may be paying for water that’s going to waste.
Find out what to do if you suspect you have a water leak and how to work out who’s responsible for fixing it.
How to spot water leaks
It’s possible you may have a water leak if:
- you hear the sound of running water
- you see running water or wet areas
- you see a lot of plants growing near pipe work, especially during dry weather
- the water pressure in your home falls.
Who’s responsible for fixing a water leak?
All water companies have a code of practice on leaks. The responsibility for repairing the leak depends on where the leak is.
If there’s a leak on your side of the meter, on the public footpath or external stop valve, it’s your responsibility to fix the leak.
However, if it’s the first time you’ve had a leak like this and it’s not too expensive, your water company will usually repair it - although they don’t have to. It’s also possible they could ask you to pay, but offer you something towards the cost.
If there’s a problem with the water meter, this is the water company’s responsibility.
If the leak is due to a damaged water pipe, or if the pipe bursts, responsibility for fixing it depends on which section of the pipe is damaged.
Responsibility for damaged water pipes
The diagram shows how the water supply is connected to your property, what the different sections of the pipe supplying the water are called and who is responsible for them.
The pipe connecting the mains supply from the water company to your property is called the service pipe. The section of the service pipe running from the mains supply to the boundary of your property is the communication pipe. The rest of the service pipe from the property boundary into the property is known as the supply pipe. The property boundary is usually where the stop valve and water meter are located.
What is the water company responsible for?
The water company is responsible for the water mains in the ground and usually for the communication pipe. This is the part of the service pipe leading up to your property boundary from the mains.
Outside stop valves are usually the property of the water company and should be maintained by them. Unless there is an emergency leak at your property, the water company may charge you a fee to fix the outside stop valve if you insist on having it repaired quickly.
What are you responsible for?
In most cases, it’s your responsibility to maintain the supply pipe. This is the section of the service pipe from the boundary of your property – usually where the water meter and stop valve are - into the property itself.
Even though it’s your responsibility to repair the supply pipe, most water companies offer a one-off free repair or subsidised repairs to their customers. You should ask your water company what the conditions are for these repairs.
What if you rent your home or your supply pipe serves several properties?
If you rent your home, your landlord is responsible for maintaining the supply pipe.
If your supply pipe serves other properties, you may share the responsibility with others. Check the title deeds of your property for more information about responsibility for your supply pipe.
- If you need to find a plumber to get a pipe repaired, there are various schemes and organisations which can help you find one you can trust. For more about this, see Finding a trustworthy trader
- If you need more help