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Discuss you reactivate next door's 'dead' pipes and cause a leak - who's liable? in the Insurance for Plumbers area at

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  1. smoleybaconfact

    smoleybaconfact New Member

    I want to reactivate some disused pipes in a flat to install a new sink. However, I can see that this network of pipes also lead into the flat next door (and it might go into other adjoining flats as well...). What happens if I plumb my new sink in, reactivate this network and the neighbour's section of pipe has not been capped / is damaged and it ends up flooding their house? Who is responsible / who's insurance pays? On the one hand, I see that if I turn this dead system on and it floods their house it looks like it's my fault but then again it's a leaking pipe in their house which is their responsibility... It would have been easy to miss that the pipe continued next door. Would it make a difference what the fault was on their pipe? ie if it had a properly installed but failed cap or simply had a hole in it?

    REDSAW Guest

    whos responsible if i called at your house, shoved a hose pipe from your garden into your letter box and turned the water on say, in the middle of the night. would this be your problem and will you claim it of your insurance?

    why not air test said pipes first?
    • Like Like x 1
  3. nickelarsed

    nickelarsed Plumber

    why not cap them before they go into the next property?
  4. smoleybaconfact

    smoleybaconfact New Member

    I won't be filling up their unused system! I could put a well labelled stop tap on before it branches into their flat so should they want to reactivate their pipes they can. But what if this tap failed and opened up and filled their system which had a fault? Who's to blame then? I'm sure most plumbers would just cap the pipe before it went into next door, which is what I intend to do. The owner of the flat could have turned this valve at anytime though, would you blame him if it caused a leak?
  5. nickelarsed

    nickelarsed Plumber

    cap both sides
  6. smoleybaconfact

    smoleybaconfact New Member

    I'd say you were responsible and I would claim! Even if their system tested ok, I wouldn't turn it on - that would be crazy. I can't imagine the neighbours saying 'oh thanks so much for testing my disused pipes and filling them with water' !
  7. Rob Sale

    Rob Sale Plumber GSR

    there might be a reason for deactivating these pipes. like led etc.
  8. smoleybaconfact

    smoleybaconfact New Member

    good point, it's copper though (until it goes into the neighbour's - obviously I can't see if it's lead but it doesn't matter as it will be separated)
  9. michael c

    michael c Plumber GSR

    how do you know that the pipes are disused are they disconnected before entry to either property? If so i would just cap both sides of the pipe between yourself and next door. If however the pipe is still connected to the mains you will have to discuss with your neighbour before touching the pipes.
  10. smoleybaconfact

    smoleybaconfact New Member

    I know I can cap and discuss with neighbours and will avoid all liability and future problems by doing this. However, I just found the situation interesting - there is a valve in my client's flat which he could have turned at any time. He could have filled a disused branch in his flat which seemed fine, but there could well be a fault in the neighbour's or a fault could develop in the future. Also it would have been very easy for a plumber to have not seen that the system was connected to next door - he could test etc but maybe it's weeping next door or a fault develops in the future. I'm interested in the liability question - the flat with the valve could cause a major problem, but then the fault is on the neighbour's pipe. I'd imagine both insurance companies would do their best to blame the other side...
  11. Ray Stafford

    Ray Stafford Guest

    In answer to your theoretical question, I think you would have a problem if you just reconnected them, but not necessarily if you put on a stop tap which subsequently failed.

    To establish liability, you normally have to establish three things:

    That there was a duty of care (in this case from you to your neighbour)
    That there was a negligent act (or failure to act when you might reasonably have been expected to act)
    That harm was or loss occured as a consequence

    I think it is fairly well established that property owners have a duty of care to ajoining property owners, and clearly there could be a loss if there were open outlets on the other end.

    So the question is around negligence. You could probably make a strong case if you fitted a valve rated for the purpose that you had not acted negligently. They would have to argue that you had acted negligently. If there is a code of practice somewhere that states best practise is to cap off, and you only isolated, then they would have a stronger hand.

    Courts can make very strange decisions, so the only way of knowing for sure would be to test it in court...
  12. snowhead

    snowhead Well-Known Member

    If a property owner (assuming not an experienced plumber / heating eng) turned on a random valve which flooded next door they are unlikely to be held liable.
    However if a plumber employed by that property owner did the same thing, they are more likely to be held liable, for obvious reasons
  13. REDSAW

    REDSAW Guest

    just a thought..

    wheres the mains stop tap for the building?
    is it metered?.
    who pays the water bill?.

    is it 'party mains' supply?

    if it is, are you denying neighbor of services?
    etc etc..
  14. plumb

    plumb Guest

    Asked my brother who knows about these things. He said you would be liable. As a professional plumber you would be expected to know about the possibility of this happening and made the necessary checks to ensure it does not happen. The courts expect a very high duty of care and any plumber who causes damage in that way would almost certainly be found to be negligent. Given that you have already considered the possibility of third party damage sort of explains why!
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