Water query - lack of stopcock ?

  CurlyWhirly 22:55 03 Jan 11
Locked

After reading a recent thread - click here

I read the Forum Editor's reply:

[quote]In most cases, the part of the mains water supply pipe that runs from the water company's stopcock to a house or shop etc. is the property owner's responsibility. It is the landlord's responsibility in rented properties (unless the rental agreement states differently).

Most water companies offer a free leak detection service, and a free supply pipe repair for household customers, but they'll normally restrict the free service to one repair only, and they'll only repair leaks that are outside the property; they won't deal with anything under a floor, or in a loft for instance. [/quote]

In light of the Northern Ireland water crisis, I had a quick inspection of my pipework and noticed that where the rising main comes up through the concrete floor, there is a small patch of blue tinge on the pipe.

The water pipe is painted white but this blue tinge shows through.

Is this the first sign of corrosion of my copper pipe ?

I have read that copper piping shouldn't be laid directly in concrete as over time it corrodes !

If it's true what the FE said about the free service not being available if the pipework goes under a floor (mine does) then it looks like I would have to fork out to get the leak repaired if it ever did leak even though it's not my fault :(

Another added complication is that there was already a water meter installed when I moved in and I can only hazard a guess that the stopcock was replaced with the water meter as I can't see one when I check my water meter reading every quarter ?

So in the event that the pipe leaked under my floor (i.e. before the stop tap where the rising main physically enters my property) then I would be liable for all the leaking water as, with no stopcock available, (outside my front door where the water meter is), I would be unable to turn it off.

This has got me a little worried in all honesty.

  Woolwell 23:09 03 Jan 11

The water meter will have replaced the stop cock but it will/should have a lever beside it to turn off the water. There is probably another stop cock internally possibly under the sink in the kitchen. The water meter one will turn off from the road and the internal one will turn off if you have a leak indoors. It is also a good idea to have isolating valves on supplies to loos, etc.

It can be a long way down to the meter so take a torch and check as soon as possible as it is important to know where this valve is.

  Forum Editor 23:16 03 Jan 11

is that even though you haver a water meter fitted there will still be a water supplier's stop valve. Usually this takes the form of a small plastic shaft in the hole alongside the meter, and this is operated with a separate plastic key, which is often sitting on top of the shaft, but sometimes lying loose in the meter hole.

It's bad practice to cover bare copper pipes with concrete or sand and cement floor screed - the pipe should either be sleeved with insulation or wrapped with Denso tape where it comes into contact with the concrete or screed.

The blue colouration is cased by copper oxide that has formed as the pipe surface has been oxidised by the action of the oxygen in mositure surrounding the pipe. It will often occur if a pipe is painted with water-based paints. It's not in itself a sign of leakage, and a coating of oxide will often help to slow the rate of metal corrosion - don't worry unnecessarily at this stage.

You are certainly responsible for this pipe, and the fact that you didn't install it isn't really the point. You'll get plenty of warning if the pipe starts to leak - it won't be catastrophic at first - and you can get it attended to. It's not a big job, provided the pipe isn't too deep, or the run too long.

  CurlyWhirly 23:23 03 Jan 11

[quote]The water meter will have replaced the stop cock but it will/should have a lever beside it to turn off the water.[/quote]
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I will have a look tomorrow although I never noticed it before.



[quote]There is probably another stop cock internally possibly under the sink in the kitchen.[/quote]
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The stop cock is right where the rising main enters my property.

What I was worried about was the fact that the main water pipe goes under my lounge and kitchen floor and rises in a room just beyond the kitchen.

If I had a leak in this section of pipe, it would not only be underground (which would therefore involve digging my floor up to find the leak) but *if* there is no lever beside the water meter, then I wouldn't be able to stop it !



[quote]It can be a long way down to the meter so take a torch and check as soon as possible as it is important to know where this valve is.[/quote]
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Funnily enough my water meter is only around 18 inches deep and even the meter readings are easy to see once I've used the built in 'wipers' to wipe off any excess moisture forming on the display !

I'll check tomorrow and report back.

  CurlyWhirly 23:34 03 Jan 11

[quote]The first thing to say is that even though you haver a water meter fitted there will still be a water supplier's stop valve. Usually this takes the form of a small plastic shaft in the hole alongside the meter, and this is operated with a separate plastic key, which is often sitting on top of the shaft, but sometimes lying loose in the meter hole.[/quote]
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I really can't remember seeing this shaft but in all honesty I wasn't looking for it !



[quote]You are certainly responsible for this pipe, and the fact that you didn't install it isn't really the point. You'll get plenty of warning if the pipe starts to leak - it won't be catastrophic at first - and you can get it attended to. It's not a big job, provided the pipe isn't too deep, or the run too long.[/quote]
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I don't think that the pipe run is deep but it is certainly long as I have a double room lounge and kitchen and there is a distance of aprox 30 ft from where the water meter is located (just outside my front door) to where the risng main pipe rises - just beyond the kitchen.


p.s. I'm glad that I read your reply as I was going to try and get rid of the blue tinge (copper oxide) by using sandpaper or a wire brush.

I think I'll leave it alone as you say that it acts as a protector and actually slows down the corrosion.

Cheers for that.

  Forum Editor 23:42 03 Jan 11

Usually it will be a microscopically thin layer and get no worse, particularly if the concrete or screed is bone dry.

Best practice nowadays is to run the main in blue polypropylene if it passes through a floor slab, and change to copper as it emerges above the floor. Where pipes pass through masonry walls they should be surrounded by expanding foam.

  CurlyWhirly 23:50 03 Jan 11

Thankfully my floor is bone dry, I've had a problem with rising damp last year but the floor was unaffected.

The pipework goes through my masonry walls and no expanding foam was used although I can't see any copper oxide stains and I'm not going to poke a hole in the wall to find out !

It *is* bad practice with the plumber taking short cuts like this.

This house is around 100 years old and so it looks like the pipework was installed a long time ago.

  Forum Editor 23:59 03 Jan 11

and what was common practice years ago is often frowned upon (or positively forbidden) today.

There are thousands of miles of copper pipe buried in concrete all over the country.

  CurlyWhirly 21:35 04 Jan 11

That shaft WAS next to the meter meter but it is hard to see as it's slightly lower down.

At least I now know where to turn the mains water off outside!

  Forum Editor 22:20 04 Jan 11

I'm glad you found it. Make sure the key is there, because without it the shaft is a devil to turn. It can be done with a pair of long-nosed pliers, but it's fiddly, and you don't want to be messing about on a cold dark night.

  CurlyWhirly 23:40 04 Jan 11

I saw the key so no worries there ;)

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