leaking mains pipe between road and private stop-cock

S

squitfire

G'day all, would be greatly appreciative of any help or views in relation to the following...

I bought a mid-terrace house built ~1900 a month ago and spent today digging a vast amount of soil to find out where our sewer pipe goes, as we need to re-site our manhole prior to extending kitchen. In the process I unearthed the mains water pipe to our property, and it is leaking. The leak is after the stop cock in the road, but before our private stop cock in the house.

As far as I can tell as many as all 5 of the houses in our terrace may be controlled by the one stop-cock out in the road all branching from a pipe running along our back gardens. Although the leaking branch is solely ours.

The pipe is very corroded with much rust and surrounding flints and stones have become embedded in the pipe meaning that the pipe is a knobbly mess and does not look like cutting the pipe and replacing a section would be a straight forward job. I do not know for sure what the pipe is made of, but the amount of rust there I assume that it must be cast iron or something? Is this at all likely? What would old buried water pipes be likely to be made of?

We have attempted a epoxy-putty fix and i shall see how this has taken in the morning - but I don't hold out much hope as the surface is so uneven, wet and dirty with rust and embedded stones. Also the pipe was still subject to mains pressure when the repair was attempted because the stop cock in the street is stuck on... so little hope of working.

I am cautious of using too much force to clean the stones off or wire wool the rust simply because I don't want to make more holes without being able to turn the water off!

Anyone had a similar problem to this or have any suggestions for the best (and also cheapest suitable!) approach to stop the leak/replace a section.

All suggestions welcome, I've not had much experience of this area but am pretty competent with most DIY tasks in general...

Ta all,
 
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You need to repair the leak while it's not under pressure. You could attempt to freeze it, but by far the best way is to get your water company to come out and make their service valve serviceable.

The underground branch could be lead or iron, unless you're absolutely sure that what you're looking at is rust, in which case it's obviously iron.

The quickest fix is to repair the leak by replacing as short a section as possible.

The best job is to renew the entire run between the service valve (or the nearest joint) and your house.

The situation is complicated by two things:

1. Water companies have recently started charging for the slightest thing - like sniffing your money when you pay your rates. This means that even getting your service valve replaced with a working editiion might cost you an alarming amount.

2. The shared stopcock. If you ask the WC to seperate the supplies then they'll definitely get dollar signs in their eyes, but technically this would be the best thing.

Is this the kind of information you were looking for?
 
S

squitfire

Softus said:
Is this the kind of information you were looking for?

Thanks a lot, that's really helpful... so it would basically be best if we can sort it without involving the water company.

I shall get a picture of the pipe tomorrow and post it - I wouldn't have expected it to be iron either, I suppose that the leaked water could have reacted with any iron deposits in the soil rather than with the actual pipe. There is so much crusted muck caked to it that I can't tell where the pipe begins and the muck ends.

Worth finding out about getting the shared stop cock sorted... or at least how much they might charge for it!

Cheers
 
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Softus said:
This means that even getting your service valve replaced with a working editiion might cost you an alarming amount.
Although the mains stop tap is property of the water company and not intended for domestic use, if present it must be maintained in an operable condition. There is no onus on Water Co's to treat such a job as a priority, however they must inspect and arrange repair.
If the tap is just seized they may come out to inspect and then free it (using more force than an average person would do, safe in the knowledge that it is theirs to break...)

They cannot charge you for a repair to apparatus that is their responsibility - unless you break it!

Softus then said:
The shared stopcock. If you ask the WC to seperate the supplies then they'll definitely get dollar signs in their eyes, but technically this would be the best thing.
It depends on your Water Co some can be very accomodating and offer free connections provided you get the work done to Water Regs

squitfire said:
so it would basically be best if we can sort it without involving the water company.

Not always.

If your Water Co is Thames, and you report a leak, they will insist that you replace the common supply pipe with individual supplies and offer you the chance to have them do it at a subsidised rate (usually cheaper than a private company). This is far easier than trying to negotiate with your neighbours for replacements.

If your Water Co is Severn Trent or United Utilities however, they would offer to come and repair the leak at no cost to you, provided that it is a straightforward job and they haven't already repaired the pipe within the past 1-2 yrs.
 
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BoxBasher said:
Softus said:
This means that even getting your service valve replaced with a working editiion might cost you an alarming amount.
Although the mains stop tap is property of the water company and not intended for domestic use, if present it must be maintained in an operable condition.
I'm curious to know why you think that.

They cannot charge you for a repair to apparatus that is their responsibility - unless you break it!
And I'm especially curious to know why you think that!
 
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Softus said:
I'm curious to know why you think that.
I don't think, I know.
Ofwat said:
We consider that a company should have a programme in place to carry out necessary work to address reports about a faulty or inaccessible stop tap within a reasonable time.
(and see next point)


Softus said:
And I'm especially curious to know why you think that!
Because how can they charge you for something that is their responsibility?

Ofwat said:
The external stopcock or outside stop valve (OSV) belongs to your water company. The water company is responsible for its repair and maintenance. However, the company may not regard the operation of the OSV as a 'core' aspect of its responsibility in providing a water and sewerage service and may not, therefore, regard the repair, replacement or location of a valve as a priority...

Article snipped for convenience may be viewed here.

Edited to alter bold highlights
 
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BoxBasher said:
Softus said:
I'm curious to know why you think that.
I don't think, I know.
In that case, I'm curious to know why you think you "know" it.

Ofwat said:
We consider that a company should have a programme in place to carry out necessary work to address reports about a faulty or inaccessible stop tap within a reasonable time.
Whereas you said:
if present it must be maintained in an operable condition.
This is not the same thing.

Softus said:
And I'm especially curious to know why you think that!
Because how can they charge you for something that is their responsibility.
I think you're getting confused between responsibility and liability. Is there some law you've read that says that they can't charge?

Ofwat said:
The external stopcock or outside stop valve (OSV) belongs to your water company. The water company is responsible for its repair and maintenance. However, the company may not regard the operation of the OSV as a 'core' aspect of its responsibility in providing a water and sewerage service and may not, therefore, regard the repair, replacement or location of a valve as a priority.
The 'belonging' doesn't mean that they can't charge you for work involved in repairing it.

Article snipped for convenience may be viewed here.
You're being somewhat naive if you're basing all of your "knowledge" on what Ofwat have written - they don't make the law, they merely interpret it, and they oversee the behaviour of the water companies in the interests of the general good.
 
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My knowledge is sound, but my ability to relay it on an internet forum may be lacking so please allow for the odd slip up (which Iwill correct or clarify if requested)

Softus said:
they don't make the law, they merely interpret it, and they oversee the behaviour of the water companies in the interests of the general good.

You are right, Ofwat don't interpret the law but they don't just oversee behaviour: They have to approve all Water Co policies, set funding levels and allocate budgets.
They also mediate in any disputes in their "concumer capacity" (which is the consumer council for water).

Softus said:
You're being somewhat naive if you're basing all of your "knowledge" on what Ofwat have written
Nope, on 7 years employment in the water industry in a role where I have to deal with such issues correctly (and I have to operate to company policy which has been approved by Ofwat). I am known amongst my colleagues for being pretty sh*t hot (or anal) when it comes to Regs and policies - something which may have emerged in my previous posts

Softus said:
This is not the same thing.
OK, I'll word it differently. If it is reported to them as inoperable they must deal with it - but not neccessarily as a priority.

I think you're getting confused between responsibility and liability. Is there some law you've read that says that they can't charge?
It is the Water Co's apapratus, they are responsible for its maintenance and repair. If it has become inoperable then they have failed in the maintenance aspect and surely must repair. If it breaks during 3rd party operation they may recharge...

If you know of a situation where somebody has been charged for the repair/replacement of an inoperable MST (not one they have damaged) then I suggest you refer them to CCW. Could you provide such an example (for my reference?)
 
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BoxBasher said:
My knowledge is sound, but my ability to relay it on an internet forum may be lacking so please allow for the odd slip up (which Iwill correct or clarify if requested)
Of course.

Softus said:
they don't make the law, they merely interpret it, and they oversee the behaviour of the water companies in the interests of the general good.
You are right, Ofwat don't interpret the law but they don't just oversee behaviour: They have to approve all Water Co policies, set funding levels and allocate budgets.
They also mediate in any disputes in their "concumer capacity" (which is the consumer council for water).
Leaving aside for now the fact that I said that Ofwat do interpret the law, I regard the rest of what they do as being fairly toothless.

Nope, on 7 years employment in the water industry in a role where I have to deal with such issues correctly (and I have to operate to company policy which has been approved by Ofwat). I am known amongst my colleagues for being pretty sh*t hot (or anal) when it comes to Regs and policies - something which may have emerged in my previous posts
OK - I'm all for accuracy of information.

I think you're getting confused between responsibility and liability. Is there some law you've read that says that they can't charge?
It is the Water Co's apapratus, they are responsible for its maintenance and repair.
I agree. But is there some law you've read that says that they can't charge for doing it?

If it has become inoperable then they have failed in the maintenance aspect and surely must repair.
I don't agree. The only certainty is that nobody else has the right to touch or repair it. The valve is their for the convenience of the water company, and I'm not aware of any law or regulation that says they have to provide a service valve or repair it if it's broken.

If you know of a situation where somebody has been charged for the repair/replacement of an inoperable MST (not one they have damaged) then I suggest you refer them to CCW.
I don't see any reason why the CCW should be consulted. I get the impression that you're indignant that there should be such a charge, whereas I'm neither happy nor unhappy about it. Water companies have to make a profit, simply because they are businesses, so why not charge for doing work that isn't part of the job of delivering water? Charging also generates an incentive to the consumer to get a water meter where there isn't one already, which, AFAIK, is the way that all water companies would prefer to charge.

Could you provide such an example (for my reference?)
Yes - Three Valleys Water habitually charge the consumer if they request a visit to attend to the service valve. I'm not saying it happens across the entire region, but it is a policy and it is implemented.
 
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Softus said:
Leaving aside for now the fact that I said that Ofwat do interpret the law,[/b] I regard the rest of what they do as being fairly toothless.
Apologies for a slip-up, they aren't that toothless when it comes to resolving disputes where the Water Co is in the wrong

Softus said:
I agree. But is there some law you've read that says that they can't charge for doing it?
No law that I've read, just going from experience (and policy) that we have to repair/maintain at our cost. If something is ours we have to repair/maintain it. We do recharge for damage, moving and/or altering apapratus at third party request.

Softus said:
I'm not aware of any law or regulation that says they have to provide a service valve or repair it if it's broken.
Water Industry Act 1991

There is no regulation that I am aware of that requires them to provide one, however we are not arguing the provison of a stop valve (as there is one their, albeit inoperable) merely the maintenance of an existing one.


37.—(1) It shall be the duty of every water undertaker to develop and maintain an efficient and economical system of water supply within its area and to ensure that all such arrangements have been made—
(a) for providing supplies of water to premises in that area and for making such supplies available to persons who demand them; and
(b) for maintaining, improving and extending the water undertaker's water mains and other pipes,


and

52.—(1) The domestic supply duty of a water undertaker in relation to any premises is a duty, until there is an interruption of that duty—
(a) to provide to those premises such a supply of water as (so far as those premises are concerned) is sufficient for domestic purposes; and
(b) to maintain the connection between the undertaker's water main and the service pipe by which that supply is provided to those premises.

Not stop taps directly, but a stop tap is considered to be part of a communication pipe. Just as sluice valves are deemed to be part of a mains system.

Softus said:
Water companies have to make a profit, simply because they are businesses, so why not charge for doing work that isn't part of the job of delivering water?
Because the things Water Co's can and can't charge for are goverened by the regulator. They don't have free reign to charge what they like... Thier profits are also controlled by Ofwat, if they make too much they have to re-invest.

Softus said:
Yes - Three Valleys Water habitually charge the consumer if they request a visit to attend to the service valve. I'm not saying it happens across the entire region, but it is a policy and it is implemented.

Ah! But are they charging for the visit in order to turn off the supply at request of the customer? We are talking about the cost of repairing faulty apparatus...
 
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BoxBasher said:
Apologies for a slip-up, they aren't that toothless when it comes to resolving disputes where the Water Co is in the wrong
OK - I bow to your greater experience on this point.

Softus said:
I agree. But is there some law you've read that says that they can't charge for doing it?
No law that I've read, just going from experience (and policy) that we have to repair/maintain at our cost.
You might be missing a trick then, because it sounds like you're bearing the cost of something that you don't have to.

BoxBasher said:
Water Industry Act 1991
37.—(1) It shall be the duty of every water undertaker to develop and maintain an efficient and economical system of water supply within its area and to ensure that all such arrangements have been made—
(a) for providing supplies of water to premises in that area and for making such supplies available to persons who demand them; and
(b) for maintaining, improving and extending the water undertaker's water mains and other pipes,
The service valve, when open, is just a pipe, and when seized open, is still just a pipe. It doesn't have to be maintained unless it leaks.

and
52.—(1) The domestic supply duty of a water undertaker in relation to any premises is a duty, until there is an interruption of that duty—
(a) to provide to those premises such a supply of water as (so far as those premises are concerned) is sufficient for domestic purposes; and
(b) to maintain the connection between the undertaker's water main and the service pipe by which that supply is provided to those premises.
Not stop taps directly, but a stop tap is considered to be part of a communication pipe. Just as sluice valves are deemed to be part of a mains system.
I agree, but (as per my comment above) there's nothing in what you've quoted that indicates that a valve has to be incorporated and maintained as a valve.

Softus said:
Water companies have to make a profit, simply because they are businesses, so why not charge for doing work that isn't part of the job of delivering water?
Because the things Water Co's can and can't charge for are goverened by the regulator.
Is that information published anywhere?


Softus said:
Yes - Three Valleys Water habitually charge the consumer if they request a visit to attend to the service valve. I'm not saying it happens across the entire region, but it is a policy and it is implemented.
Ah! But are they charging for the visit in order to turn off the supply at request of the customer? We are talking about the cost of repairing faulty apparatus...
I'm not talking about visits to turn off a valve, but those visits to either (a) locate a lost valve, or (b) uncover a buried valve, or (c) repair/replace a broken/faulty valve.
 
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Softus, I have edited my post prior to your reply...

now includes:
There is no regulation that I am aware of that requires them to provide one, however we are not arguing the provison of a stop valve (as there is one their, albeit inoperable) merely the maintenance of an existing one.

Is that information published anywhere?
I am not sure if the information is published, but I am sure if a question was asked, an answer could be provided.

I'm not talking about visits to turn off a valve, but those visits to either (a) locate a lost valve, or (b) uncover a buried valve, or (c) repair/replace a broken/faulty valve.
(a)+(b) I can see why - as I stated in my previous post (edited) there is no requirement to provide it.
(c) I think that a consumer could argue or dispute that charge (and be succesful in doing so)

The company I work for does not carry out (a) or (b) at all as it is deemed that complaints would be generated in situations where the valve cannot be located (as we would have looked for it and therefore still require payment) or if the costs of locating the valve became excessive for the consumer. I believe we thought about it but thought better.
 
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Softus said:
The service valve, when open, is just a pipe, and when seized open, is still just a pipe. It doesn't have to be maintained unless it leaks.
We will have to disagree over this point. If I get called to inspect a non-operable stop tap and I cannot make it accessible (chamber full of rubble) or make it operable (seized) then I have to raise work to have it repaired (but not very quickly mind). We would not bear the cost of something unless we had to...
 
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BoxBasher said:
as there is one their, albeit inoperable) merely the maintenance of an existing one.

or there even... :oops:

Must be time for bed...
 

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