Thames Water reading shows 532L a day!

ewokuk Posts: 76
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edited 22 January 2020 at 3:46PM in Water bills
I got an 'estimated' meter reading which indicated I was supposedly going to use 250L per day (since this is apparently what the previous reading 6 months earlier had said, I didn't even notice since the bill was still low at the time). Since I live by myself and am out 5 days a week I rang Thames Water to tell them this could not be right, I suspect I use less than 100L on average.

I went to look at the meter which is outside in the streed but the hole was filled with water and I couldn't quite make out the numbers as the meter is about a foot down from ground level! I assumed it was full of water due to rain. They sent someone out last week to pump the water out and take a reading and a few days later when I checked the website, it says the actual reading indicates I used 532L per day since 21st May last year! I went out to check the meter myself, only to find the hole filled with water still (no idea if they actually pumped it out or not because it can probably be read with a torch).

So now they are sending someone out next Tuesday to investigate.

Here is the complicated bit. I live in a middle floor flat. The water pipes go form the street under the small garden area of the flat below, under the building and up in the middle of the building to the utility cupboard where my stopcock is, just before the pipes then come into my flat. My lease indicates that "all conduits that exclusively serve the flat" are part of "the flat" and hence the landlord/freeholder is seemingly not responsible for them. Thames Water will say I am responsible for it, if it turns out to be a leak between the meter and my flat (which can only be somewhere underground either under the garden or under the entire building!! unless it turns out to be the meter itself or some other issue).

Since the freeholder of the estate holds the buildings insurance, I only have contents insurance myself. I am trying to figure out where I stand with it all, if Thames Water come back and say I have a leak somewhere under the building. Since I am apparently responsible for the conduits, it would seem the freeholders building insurance would not cover me (I am assuming) and my own contents insurance is obviously for contents, not pipes outside my flat.

Since it has not yet been determined that there is indeed a leak, or that the leak is on my pipes rather than form the meter itself, would people advise I quickly take out some sort of buildings insurance which would cover it, in case they do say I am liable? Obviously if I wait until after a leak has been found then the insurance would obviously not be valid for any pre-existing problems but as far as I am concerned at the moment there is no problem, other than a dodgy meter reading so I think taking out insurance for it right now is possibly a valid option, assuming I can't be covered by the freeholders buildings insurance.

Not sure what to do really, I don't want to be lumbered with potentially thousands in bills if worst case they decide there is a leak and it turns out to be somewhere under the whole building.


  • Cardew
    Cardew Posts: 29,034
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    I think in inconceivable that you could be held responsible for a leak in the pipe outside your flat - i.e before your stopcock. It must be the responsibility of the freeholder.

    If there is such a leak, and it cannot be easily repaired, they will normally disconnect and run in a new pipe.

    I would firstly look carefully and investigate meter readings, as that is often the problem; especially as you would expect to see evidence of a leak if you have been losing over 400 litres a day for the past 8 months.
  • ewokuk
    ewokuk Posts: 76
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    edited 22 January 2020 at 8:48PM
    I would have thought the same but it sounds like I may have no rights either way. Thames Water will stick to the usual line that anything beyond the meter is the customers problem. The lease, as is typical, states all conduits that are specifically for an individual flat belong to that flat and since everything form the meter to my flat is clearly going to be specific to my flat, it would seem the freeholder/management company could wash their hands of it, despite them being the only ones who's insurance may cover it.

    The meter readings are actuals not estimates. Either the meter is faulty somehow (Thames problem), or there is a leak at the meter or the 1m or so of pipe that connects the meter to the pipe that runs to the flat (Thames problem), or there is a leak between the end of that pipe and my stopcock outside my flat which must mean the leak is somewhere underneath the flats which might explain why nothing is visible as it may be under the concrete that the building would sit on.

    As far as I can tell I am potentially going to be lumbered with a huge bill, for a pipe I have absolutely nothing to do with, on a piece of land I have nothing to do with and have no power over or legal interest in. This situation can't be that unusual, it would apply to millions of flats all over the country so there must be some sort of precedence for what usually happens.

    As far as I am concerned in this situation Thames Water should be obliged to have the meters in a sensible location, i.e. somewhere near the stopcock in the utility cupboard outside my flat, not outside in the street past a chunk of land that has nothing to do with me. That does not seem to be the case though. Failing that, the freeholder in this situation should be obliged to cover that in their insurance and not simply claim that any conduit going to an individual flat is not their responsibility.

    On a slightly unrelated note, when I rang Thames Water I asked about getting a smart meter so that I could monitor stuff like this in future and identify an issue as soon as it happens and not be trying to investigate the cause of something 6 months later. They are apparently not installing smart meters in this area yet, so that's useful (it would benefit them more than me as any leaks would be identified months quicker and save their water supply!).
  • Talldave
    Talldave Posts: 2,002
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    Is there really a separate conduit for each flat?

    Are you sure the meter is for your flat and your flat exclusively? Are there as many meters in the street as there are flats? If not, why not?
  • ewokuk
    ewokuk Posts: 76
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    edited 25 January 2020 at 12:13PM
    Yes there must be separate conduits for each flat as there seems to be about as many meter holes in the street as there are flats, not counted every single one but the location of their groupings lines up with the locations of the flats (there are 3 separate buildings and 3 groups of meters along the street). No way of knowing that meter is connected to my flat but I'm sure the engineer will be able to confirm that on Tuesday. In the utility cupboard there are conduits and stopcocks for each flat, those pipes come up from underground in the utility cupboard on the ground floor so I must assume a conduit runs from each meter, under the flats and up in the middle where the utility cupboard is.
  • wild666
    wild666 Posts: 2,100
    First Post Name Dropper First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    532L a day I use less that that a week. It is my daughter cleaning that bumps up the water usage, to around 400 litres a week, without her cleaning I wouldn't have used 10m3 by now. When she goes on holiday my usage is under 150 litres a week as all I do is shower very quickly and drinks plus wash up and the three weekly wash load.
    Someone please tell me what money is
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