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Pipework Responsibility

A burst pipe does not only stop water coming out your taps, it can also cause flooding and damage to your property, so you need to get it fixed immediately.

Watch our how-to guides on fixing your pipes

The diagram shows that Scottish Water is responsible for the pipes that lead up to your property boundary. If the burst is on one of these pipes, call us on 0845 601 8855 and we will get our team out to fix it. You are responsible for the pipes inside your property. 

A diargram showing where Scottish Water is responsible for your pipes Your responsibility table

A burst pipe on your property


Burst pipes within the home are down to the homeowner to fix. 

We would always recommend the use of licensed plumbers. Scottish Water supports and promotes the WaterSafe scheme. WaterSafe is a dedicated online search facility to help customers to find the nearest qualified plumbing and heating professionals in their area.

Scottish and Northern Ireland Plumbing Employers’ Federation (SNIPEF) runs the Plumbing Industry Licensing Scheme and this is part of WaterSafe.

To find a licensed plumber in your area, visit www.watersafe.org.uk or call SNIPEF on 0845 224 0391 who will be able to recommend a plumber. Office opening hours are Monday - Thursday 8.30am to 5pm and Friday 8.30am to 4.30pm. For out of office hours, please visit the website or refer to your telephone directory.

We have produced a short video on how to deal with a burst pipe until your plumber arrives and how-to video guides on preventing pipes bursting in the cold weather and turning off your water supply.


Your questions answered


1. What is a water supply pipe and who owns it?

For most of our customers the water supply pipe is the pipe that runs from the edge of your property boundary and ends at your stop valve inside your home. A property can have an individual supply pipe, or it can have a shared supply pipe (one pipe feeding more than one property). You will often find that flats and older or terraced houses are more than likely to have their water supplied by a shared water supply pipe.


The owner of the property is responsible for the maintenance of the water supply pipe. If you are on a shared supply pipe you are jointly responsible, along with your neighbours. You are also responsible for the installation and maintenance of all plumbing inside your home.

2. What is a water communication pipe and who owns it?

The water communication pipe starts at the water main in your street and runs to the edge of your property boundary where it meets the stopcock and water meter, if you have one. In some cases the stopcock may be found within the boundary of your property. We own the water communication pipe and it is our responsibility to maintain it, up to and including the stopcock.

3. What is a stopcock and a water meter and who owns them?

A stopcock and water meter (if you have one) are found at the end of the communication pipe. The stopcock is where we would access your water supply to carry out any necessary work or checks. If you have a water meter it would also be located at this point and would measure the amount of water entering your property. We are responsible for the maintenance and repair of both the stopcock and the water meter.

4. What is a water main and who owns it?

The water main is the main public water supply pipe into the local area. We are responsible for the maintenance and repair of the public water main.

5. What is the stop valve and who owns it?

The stop valve is the control for your water supply into your property and is located within the boundary of your property, normally within your home. It allows you to switch off your water supply to your property if you are doing plumbing work or if your pipe bursts. It is usually located under a sink (normally your kitchen sink), or in a garage (wherever the mains supply enters your house). The stop valve is the responsibility of the homeowner.

6. What is the private drain and who owns it?

The private drain is the pipe that removes the waste water from your property (for example, from your toilet and sinks). It runs from your property up to your property boundary where it meets and connects to the main public sewer. The private drain is the responsibility of the homeowner.

7. What is a sewer and who owns it?

The waste water from your property passes down your private drain and into the main public sewer. From there our vast network of sewers transport the waste water to our waste water treatment works. We are responsible for the provision, operation and maintenance of the public sewer network.

Free Sticker!

To help keep your water flowing, label your stop valve today, contact us for your free stop valve sticker

Our quick reminder stickers for you to write on the name and telephone number of your local plumber in case of an emergency.

To obtain your free sticker contact us by writing to: Customer Marketing, Free Stop Valve Sticker Promotion, PO Box 8855, Edinburgh EH10 6YQ; or by emailing customermarketing@scottishwater.co.uk giving us your full name and address (we can only send one sticker per household).