No free fix for leaks if not registered with Irish Water

Homeowners will be denied a free fix of water leaks on their property unless they first register with Irish Water and have a meter installed, the energy regulator has ruled.

The regulator has also decided that Irish Water will only offer a free fix where a leak is found on an external pipe between the point of entry to the house and the property boundary but not inside the owner’s building. An owner will continue to be responsible for leaks inside a house or apartment.

The energy regulator announced the new criteria and information around Irish Water’s first free fix policy as it confirmed that the company had agreed to spend €51m this year and next fixing first leaks identified for free.

But the decision that homeowners will only be entitled to free repairs if they sign up with Irish Water may cause controversy and raise questions about who may be liable for leaks if they are on a property boundary and why the company wants people to register before fixing pipes.

The regulator announced that Irish Water has agreed to detect leaks and will notify homeowners where six litres every hour over 48 hours is used.

This level of leakage will be determined by data collected from meters at the property.

After homeowners are notified of potential leaks or the large usage of water, they should then contact the company so that Irish Water can send in an investigation team.

However, no repairs will be supported if the owner is not signed up with the company.

“If the customer is not registered, Irish Water will require a customer to register with them before carrying out a leak investigation,” the regulator said.

New owners of properties will be eligible for first free fixes even if the previous owner had neglected to follow up with Irish Water. Leaks for investigation teams will be identified by the meters that will trigger what the company calls a ‘constant flow alarm’.

The regulator said it had made significant amendments to Irish Water’s original proposals on its first fix leak repair scheme.

It also said that where a leak qualifies under the first fix policy, that customer charges will be capped at the unmetered rate until the leak is repaired.

Charges though in general are already capped until 2018.

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