High Court grants €82,000 judgment for damage caused to south Dublin home by jacuzzi leak

Judge found issue caused by inadequate tighting of the pipe connection during installation

The High Court has granted judgment of €82,000 against a plumbing firm for damage caused to a South Dublin home by a leak from a jacuzzi installed seven years earlier.

Mr Justice Anthony Barr found, on the balance of probabilities, that the leak was caused by inadequate tightening of a pipe connection at the time of installation in 2007.

McKeon Brothers Limited was subcontracted to plumb and install the jacuzzi in the en suite bathroom at a home on Orwell Park in Rathgar, the judge said.

Seven years later one of the connecting pipes began to leak, with water penetrating through the bathroom floor and exiting into the ceiling cavity and on to the kitchen below, he said.


An insurance company paid €82,313 to homeowners Martin and Louise Whelan under their household insurance policy. The insurer then brought a High Court action in their names seeking to recover the sum from the McKeon Brothers.

The insurer alleged the 2014 leak was caused by the negligent installation of the jacuzzi and associated pipework, said Mr Justice Barr. It claimed the company’s plumber failed to properly tighten the relevant connection and that stresses and strains on the system over time loosened a nut, causing the leak.

McKeon Brothers fought the claim, contending that even if the relevant connections were loose when examined by the insurer’s engineer in 2014, this could not be due to inadequate tightening seven years earlier. It submitted that the jacuzzi operated entirely satisfactorily in the intervening period, the judge said.

The court heard the plaintiffs’ engineer tightened the nuts in October 2014, following the leak, and the jacuzzi has operated without any further leakage since then.

The plumbers also submitted that the original standard pump was removed and replaced by a higher-pressure pump at the direction of Mr Whelan. The firm said the pump and jacuzzi were sourced by Mr Whelan from a company in Italy. The loosening of the nuts would have been caused by the high-pressure system, it said.

A director of McKeon Brothers said it was normal practice to test a pump at 2½ times its pressure, but there would have been a risk of leaks to have tested this pump at that level. He said this was made clear to the Whelans.

The plumber who installed the jacuzzi said he was very familiar with tightening connections of this sort and was entirely satisfied all connections were properly tightened. The plaintiffs’ engineer said stresses and strains on pipework over time would only lead to leakage if the connection was not properly secured initially.

Mr Justice Barr concluded that, although the higher pressure pump is “unusual” in a domestic setting, it is “not excessive” for a substantial dwelling such as this.

The fact the plaintiffs’ engineer found that four connections were loose implies these were not properly tightened at installation, rather than they came loose simultaneously after years of strain, he said.

He was satisfied the inadequate tightening constituted negligence and that the insurer was entitled to judgment for damages at the agreed amount of €82,313.

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Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan is an Irish Times reporter