Bulk of ‘first-fix’ leak repairs completed, says Irish Water
Of more than 100,500 leak notifications issued there were 7,723 repairs since 2015
Data released under Freedom of Information shows Irish Water carried out 280 “first-fix” leak repairs in the first three months of this year
Almost 280 free “first-fix” leak repairs were carried out by Irish Water in the first three months of 2017, down from 2,510 repairs at the same time last year, new data released under Freedom of Information shows.
Irish Water has said the bulk of “first-fix” leak repairs that householders requested, and which qualified under the scheme, have now been completed.
More than 7,700 leaks were repaired under the scheme up to April 1st this year, out of more than 100,500 suspected leaks notified to customers.
The first fix scheme provides repairs to customers who have been detected as having leaks on their properties through an alarm triggered in their water metres. A constant flow of 6 litres per hour over a 48-hour period will trigger the alarm, indicating a potential leak.
To qualify for the free repair, the leak must be in the external supply pipe, which carries water from the mains outside a property to the interior of the property. Repairs will not be carried out inside homes, or on homes that do not have working and accessible inside stop valves.
Irish Water said it sent 100,559 notifications to homeowners between 2015 and April 1st this year to tell them they had a potential leak. Reminders were also sent. So far, 41,155 homeowners have applied for a first-fix leak investigation. This resulted in 7,723 leaks repaired by Irish Water.
Reasons for non-qualification included that properties surveyed did not have an operational internal stop valve, or water supply was through a shared or backyard service and a survey could not be completed. In some homes, the leak was found to be in internal plumbing, not covered by the scheme, or in pipes to external fittings such as a garden water fountain, which also does not qualify.
So far, the scheme has cost €20.8 million, of which €9.7 million was spent on leak investigations, €7.6 million was for repairs and €3.5 million was spent on VAT and contact centre costs.
The company said all properties with a continuous flow alarm have now been notified of a potential leak and all subsequent reminder letters have been issued.
Asked how long a first fix took for a homeowner, on average, Irish Water said it depended on the customer’s response.
Once a customer contacted to say he or she was interested in a first-fix investigation, “Irish Water’s first-fix contractor reverts to the homeowner within 10 working days” to arrange an appointment.
Once a survey has been completed and a qualifying leak identified, an outcome letter and offer to fix the leak is issued within five business days, Irish Water said.
A waiver must then be signed by the homeowner and returned to Irish Water’s contact centre within 30 days, giving the company permission to repair the leak on private property. Once the waiver is received, Irish Water said it contacts customers to arrange for the repair within 10 business days.
“The variables in the process are the length of time it takes customers to respond to the initial letter and when it suits the qualifying customers for a leak investigation and repair,” the company said.