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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What activity in my home uses the most water?

Toilet flushing is by far the largest single use of water in a home. Most toilets use about 10 litres of water for each flush. On the average, a dishwasher uses about 50 percent less water than the amount used when you wash and rinse dishes by hand if the dishes are not pre-rinsed and if only full loads are washed in the dishwasher. Without counting lawn watering, typical percentages of water use for a family of four are:

Toilet flushing – 40%
Bath and shower – 32%
Laundry – 14%
Dishwashing – 6%
Cooking and drinking – 5%
Bathroom sink – 3%

Q: Should I put a brick in my toilet tank to save water? How does this save water?

Toilet flushing uses a lot of water, and putting something in the toilet tank that takes up space means that less water will be used each time the tank refills after a flush, but putting a brick in your toilet tank is not a good idea. Bricks tend to crumble and might damage the toilet's flushing mechanism. If your loo is still as good as new, put a hippo or other displacement device into the cistern to save some water

Never use your toilet to dispose of rubbish. Using 10 litres of water to get rid of a tissue or a cigarette is very wasteful. Also remember that toilet tanks can leak. To check, put a few drops of food coloring in the tank, wait about 15 minutes, and look in the bowl. If the food coloring shows up there, the tank is leaking and should be fixed. Toilets should be checked for leaks twice a year.

Q: Which uses more water, a bath or a shower?

That depends on many factors: how big your bath is, how long you shower, how fast the water comes out of your showerhead, whether or not you turn off the water while soaping, and so forth. Answer this question yourself by closing the drain when you shower and see if you get a bath full of water. Don't try this in a shower stall.

Q: I leave the water running while I brush my teeth. Does this waste much water?

Yes. Leaving the water running is a bad habit; about 6 litres of water go down the drain every minute each time you brush. Turning off the water when you are not using it will save water and save you money.

Q: I use a lot of water in the kitchen. How can I conserve there?

Here are several tips:

  • Scrape dishes without using water and don't rinse them before putting in the dishwasher
  • Clean vegetables in a pan of water rather than under running tap water, then use the water on your plants
  • Run the dishwasher only when it is full

Q: My tap drips. Should I bother to fix it?

Yes. Drips waste water, even though the dripping water may not register on your water meter. A dripping tap will waste about 15 litres per day.

Q: How should I water my lawn to avoid wasting water?

Water your lawn for long periods a couple of times each week, rather than every day. This allows deep penetration of the water. Water early in the morning to avoid excessive evaporation; it is usually less windy then too. Try to avoid watering paved areas and don't use your hose to wash pavements or driveways.

Q: How do I turn off my water?

Homes typically have an internal and an external stop cock. Water can be turned off by rotating the stop cock in an clockwise direction.

Internal stop cocks can usually be found in the pipework under your kitchen sink or in the downstairs bathroom or cloakroom. They are sometimes located in basements.

External stop cocks are normally found in the footpath just outside your property. In some cases there will be only one stop cock serving a number of properties (a shared supply), so it may not be right outside your property.

External stop cocks are owned by Westmeath County Council and should only be operated by people who are employed by the Council, except in the case of an emergency and/or if everyone whose water supply is controlled by the stop cock has agreed to the supply being turned off.

Stop cocks usually have a plastic or metal cover marked "Water" or 'Uisce' however, they can unfortunately be covered over by contractors working in the footpath or neighbours undertaking DIY or maintenance work. If you do have difficulty locating your stop cock please contact us at the details below.

Q: How do I know if I have a leak?

Water escaping from a leak on your private underground supply pipe may not be obvious above ground.

If you are not on a meter you may notice wet areas or patches of lush vegetation in your garden in dry spells, a reduction in your water pressure or noise on your internal plumbing system which could suggest a leak. In order to confirm the presence of a leak in these situations you may call us for advice.

If you have an external meter, it is important to keep a regular monthly check on your meter readings to help you identify an underground leak quickly. A bill showing much higher than normal consumption may also be an indication that you have a leak on your supply pipe.

If you suspect that you might have a leak, you can check by noting the reading on all the dials on the meter; turning off all water-using appliances in your home for a couple of hours and checking the meter reading again. If the dials have moved, then you probably do have a leak. To check that it is on your underground pipe and not inside your property, you should turn off your internal stopcock and check the meter again. If the dials have moved again, or are moving while the stopcock is turned off, the leak is probably on your underground pipe.

Q: Who is responsible for leaks?

Irish Water is responsible for the large diameter underground pipes through which water is distributed around the county. These pipes are called water mains. It is also responsible for the supply pipe up to and including the stop tap or meter.

If there is a leak on your side of the supply pipe or on your internal plumbing, you are responsible for repairing it.

You will need to hire a contractor to locate the leak and carry out the repair.‌  Irish Water responsibility for water service connections starts at 225mm from boundary wall, (curtilage of property).

Q: Should I repair or replace my pipes if I have a leak?

leak is likely to be a sign that your private underground supply pipe is wearing out. Often repairing one leak will cause the pipe to leak somewhere else because the pressure in the pipe has been improved by repairing the first leak and other parts of the supply pipe can’t cope.

In some cases excavation work may be required to narrow down the length of service to find theleak.  In view of the difficulty that may be experienced in locating leaks, and particularly for some older service pipes in poor condition, it may be more sensible to replace the service pipe to prevent future leakage, rather than possibly incur repeated repair costs.

Q: How can I report a leak?

If you think you may have a leak and want advice or want to report a leak you have noticed outside, contact Irish Water on 1800 278 278