Should You Lock Up Your Pipes?

There has been a lot of debate as to whether Irish water have the right to send a contracted plumber to install a water meter on your property. They claim to have a legal easement to read your water meter, however they do not have a legal right to install or remove a water meter without the homeowner’s permission.

Once a meter is installed it becomes the property of the home owner. The controversy arises when a meter is installed without the permission of the homeowner. It is possible to install a water or gas meter lock to ensure you don’t come home to find it Irish water plumber digging up your pipes and just installed a water meter.


Installing a Water Meter Lock

While there are many people who suggest that this is an easy process that is not the case. That is unless you are an experienced plumber or a locksmith with previous experience in this area. In Cork it is estimated that more than 63% of homes have a water meter installed, with only 23% of these having given the permission. This is where the problem has arisen and it is now up to the government to tackle this issue once and for all.

More and more videos are emerging online of people showing how to remove a water meter and install a lock. These videos have gained notoriety. However it is highly recommended not to follow any of the advice on these videos because each water meter is different. Speaking to John from PES Plumbers Cork, he explained that,

“The problem with uninstalling a water meter is that each one can be different from the last. A four bed-roomed house built in a new housing estate will have a modern and up-to-date meter, whereas a bungalow in the country could have in old-fashioned one which would require a lot more technical knowledge to remove. We are seeing more and more call outs to fixed damaged meters. It is not just in issue for a plumber any more. We have seen people fit their pipes with cheap locks in attempt to ward off Irish water contractors. What happens is that these locks will rust and can be difficult to remove. In most cases we will have to apply the sources of a local locksmith in Cork to just get at the pipes. I would highly recommend not fitting any lock because it will end up causing more expensive in the long run”

The current meters has already been fitted with a transmitter. This technology will send a signal to a database which will give updated readings of the water meter. At present only Irish water can read the signal however it is suggested that it will be available for a homeowner to be online eventually. This technology also allows Irish water to remotely read the meter without having to enter your premises every time they wish to estimate your bill. At present if you wish to read your water meter it is advised you seek the advice of your local plumber. This way you can learn to read your meter without running the risk of causing any damage.

In May of this year we welcomed in a new government. They outlined the need for change and promised to undertake a full review of the water situation which currently exists in this country. It is suggested that they will undertake a full review of the system and new proposals are underway and expected to be in place in the New Year.

While we do agree for the need to maintain the old piping system, there has to be a more reasonable payment system put in place. The billing system bought in by the last government simply does not work. While the new proposals are underway it is highly recommended to avoid making any adjustments to your current plumbing system by installing a lock of any kind. Not unless you want to pay to have a plumber and/or locksmith remove any faulty lock who may have put on your pipes.