Your external water pipes explained

The language used by water companies can make external pipework sound more complicated than it actually is. Here's a helpful summary of what the section of pipes are and who they belong to.

The water main

This is the big pipe supplying you and your neighbours with water. The water main is ours and we're responsible for looking after it. Knowing which street the main is laid in is important for knowing where your service pipe is, and where your ownership begins (see below).

The service pipe

The service pipe connects your property to the water mains. It’s split into two sections – the communication pipe and the supply pipe.

The communication pipe

This part of the service pipe runs from the water mains to the boundary of the street the main is laid in. In most cases, this is the same as your property boundary (see diagrams below). This section belongs to South West Water and we’re responsible for looking after it.

The supply pipe

The supply pipe runs from the boundary of the street the main is laid in, to your internal stop tap (usually found under the kitchen sink). This pipe belongs to the homeowner, and is their responsibility to look after.

External stop taps and meters

Your external stop tap is our responsibility to look after. If you’re a metered customer, your meter will usually be found on your supply pipe, and again, your meter belongs to us and is our responsibility to maintain.

What are my responsibilities?

In looking after your supply pipe, you're responsible for:

  • Repairing any leaks
  • Replacing any lead pipework
  • Replacing any worn or damaged pipework
  • Working with those you share your supply pipe with to negotiate costs of repairs
  • Arranging access to other people’s property, if needed, to carry out repairs on your supply pipe

Finding out where my supply pipe is

The best place to find the route of your supply pipe is in the documents you received when you bought your property. They will outline all the responsibilities covered under your ownership, including pipework.

You can also call us on 0344 346 2020 and we’ll be able to take a look and advise you.

What external pipework can look like underground

Need a plumber?

Check out our guide to choosing an industry approved plumber so that you can find one you can trust.

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