Most homes and premises are supplied with water through a communication or service pipe - this is the pipe between the stop valve in the street and the property. You are responsible for installing and maintaining the water pipes within the boundaries of your property. This includes water pipes inside your home. Because these pipes are privately owned, Galway County Council does not hold information about where they are within your property boundaries and we are not responsible for their maintenance. In some rural locations, you may also be responsible for part of your communication pipe which is not in your land but still in privately owned land.
Who is responsible for maintaining your communication pipe?
The responsibility for maintaining the communication pipe that feeds your home will fall on you and your neighbours depending on your circumstances. In most cases, water communication pipes provide years of trouble-free service, but from time to time they may need some maintenance and eventually they will need to be replaced.
If you are a tenant and discover there is a leak you should contact your landlord as quickly as possible to advise them of the problem and to determine the actions you will need to take. There is a time limit as to how long we can allow a leak to run so it is very important that you talk to your landlord as soon as possible to avoid the need for action to be taken to stop the waste of water.
On most properties, your water communication pipe will be a pipe that leads from your internal stop tap to our stop tap in the street connecting to the water main. The stop tap in the street will usually sit in a chamber at ground level near the boundary of your property. Look for a plastic, steel or cast iron lid to indicate its location.
If you discover a leak on your communication pipe, you will need to decide whether to repair the leak or replace the pipe.
A repair can be effective if the leak is small and the pipe is in good condition. Communication pipes are privately owned so we do not hold information on their locationIf the pipe is in poor condition and is over 30 years old, a leak may indicate that the pipe is nearing the end of its life. If this is the case, we would recommend that you replace the pipe. In many cases this is the best long-term solution. The whole of the pipe should be replaced from the stop tap in the street to the internal stop tap.
Do you have a leak on your water communication pipe?
Leaks on water communication pipes are often not visible on the surface. If you have been informed you have a leak but see no evidence of it, try listening out for noise on your water pipe. If the noise doesn’t go away (even when no water is in use in your house) this may be a sign of a leak. Also, a reduction in water pressure at your kitchen tap may sometimes indicate a leak on your communication pipe. In some cases it is easy to see if you have a leak on the water communication pipe bringing water to your home - if your front garden contains grass, you may find that there is a lush patch with greener, longer grass, if your front garden is tarmac, look for water on the surface, particularly on dry days.
Steps to be taken when checking for leaks inside the house
- Check the overflow pipe from the main water tank in the attic. This pipe is usually located somewhere under the eaves of the house. If there is water flowing this usually means the ball cock in the attic on the inflow is faulty and needs to be replaced or repaired. You should contact a qualified plumber.
- Check around the house for leaking taps and toilet cisterns. To check if a toilet cistern is leaking you can add 2 or 3 drops of food colouring to the water in the cistern. Wait 15-30 minutes. If the water in the bowl changes colour the cistern is leaking and needs to be repaired.
An alternative method to check if a toilet cistern is leaking is to place a sheet of toilet paper on the inside back wall of the toilet. If the paper washes into the bowl without flushing the toilet the cistern is leaking. If any taps or toilets are leaking you should contact a plumber and arrange to have them repaired.
Steps to be taken when checking for leaks on the communication pipe (Metered Consumers)
- Firstly, check to see if you have a meter, it is generally located near the footpath in front of your home or business.
- Turn all water-using appliances off so that no water is being used. This means turning off all water inside and outside the premises including showers, sinks, washing machines, dishwashers and any appliance that uses water.
- Carefully remove the meter box lid by using an appropriate tool. The meter will look similar to picture shown below. The meter usually measures water use in cubic meters (1000 litres). If any of the meter dial hands are moving, water is running somewhere in your system and you have a leak.
If the hand is not moving, note the position of the hand and wait 10 - 15 minutes and check the meter again, if it has moved, you have a slow leak. If no movement is recorded, you probably don’t have a leak.
- To isolate the leak, turn the water off where it enters the building. Your building’s valve may be located near the outside tap or under the kitchen sink. With all water turned off in the building, there should be no movement of any of the dials on the meter.
- If any of the dials are still moving, water is flowing between the meter and the shut-off valve. That means you could have a leak on the communication pipe between the meter and the valve where water enters your home or business.