You also need to maintain the water, sewer and stormwater pipes that connect to your property.
As well as knowing exactly what your responsibilities are, you need to know what you can do to keep these essential services running well.
Which pipes are you responsible for?
The property owner usually owns the water pipes from the point where they connect to our water main. The water main usually runs under and parallel to your street frontage.
- any pipe leaks from the connection to our water main up to one metre inside your property boundary
- or replace the water meter to ensure it's accurate
- any leaks from the water meter or its isolating tap.
What your water pipes are made of?
Water pipes are usually made from copper.
Older pipes may be made from galvanised iron, while some new developments use specially designed plastic pipes.
Older galvanised iron pipes are dull silver in colour. Most have now reached the end of their useful life and they typically rust from the inside out.
Your pipes are rusting if:
- you notice rust flakes when you fill a glass with water
- an orange stain appears at the back of your toilet bowl (where the flushing water runs).
How do you know if your pipes need to be replaced?
Leaks are the most important sign that your galvanised iron pipes need replacing. As they age, these pipes become thin and vulnerable to leaks.
The cost of fixing these leaks usually prompts owners to replace their pipes with modern materials. Always use a licenced plumber to repair or replace your water pipes and always ask for a certificate of compliance before you pay for major plumbing work.
Our WaterFix® Program provides a wide range of plumbing services, including leak repairs.
Unless you’re digging more than 300 mm (about the depth of a shovel blade) below the surface, you won’t normally come across your water pipes.
If you're doing major landscaping, always check carefully for buried water, gas or electricity services.
Find out more about Dial Before you Dig enquiries.
The property owner owns the wastewater pipes upstream from the point of connection to our wastewater main.
The connection point may not be near your property’s boundary as the main is often located where it can also connect to nearby properties.
What are your wastewater pipes made of?
Wastewater pipes are made from a range of materials. Specially designed plastic pipes are the most common in modern buildings.
In homes built before the early 1980s, it's common to find terracotta or clay pipes. These pipes are very durable. However, the materials are brittle and its becoming more common to find cracks near the joints in these pipes. It's via these cracks and joints that tree roots may find their way into your pipes.
Why do tree roots affect sewer pipes?
Tree roots can take advantage of weak sewer pipes. The roots are drawn to the wastewater flowing in the pipes, particularly during drought. They enter the pipes through openings in joints or cracks and grow quickly. Within months, you'll notice problems with your drains.
Unless removed, the roots will eventually block the pipe causing wastewater to flow out of openings upstream – possibly inside your home.
Major tree root blockages in privately owned pipes are an ongoing problem in Sydney. Disputes can arise:
- if the offending trees are on another property
- about the extent of the damage.
How can you fix blocked pipes?
Plumbers can view the condition of your pipes using closed circuit TV. This helps them accurately locate any damage from roots. Depending on the extent and impact of any damage, you can choose from a number of options such as:
- high-pressure water jetting to temporarily clear the roots
- relining the damaged section of pipe
- digging up and replacing damaged pipes with modern materials.
How do you choose the best option?
A licensed plumber specialising in this type of work is usually best placed to advise which option is best for you. You're likely to have to choose between regular, ongoing maintenance such as jetting or more permanent repairs.
Jetting has lower regular costs, but will only last a couple of years.
Dig and repair has a higher up front cost, but the new pipe with modern materials and glued joints will last for decades.
Pipe lining is a new technology that enables existing pipes to be relined with a joint-free epoxy pipe. This technique means there's little or no disturbance to the landscape above.
We own some stormwater mains and canals. Look at the stormwater catchment map to find out if you're in an area we manage.
On your property, you must maintain the stormwater pipes between the street gutter and your roof gutters.
Rainwater tanks help you store at least some rainwater for later use.
Some properties in sensitive areas must temporarily store stormwater in detention tanks for slow release. This reduces the impact of local flooding and erosion.