When something goes wrong, there is always someone to call on to fix it.
With small issues, like a cracked tile, householders pay for it under the house maintenance budget.
If it is a larger cost, we either look for someone to blame or our insurance company sorts it.
Does the same happen if our house floods due to a pump problem? You may be surprised.
Many houses throughout the UK rely on a pumped drainage system. Where sewage cannot reach a sewer by gravity it is pumped to the nearest manhole which will then take it to its final destination for it to be treated. Where this pump system is the responsibility of a water authority and it causes some flooding you may be entitled to some compensation, we urge you to find that out. Where this is not owned by the water company you may not be. Flooding occurring due to drainage issues outside of the pump station or sewage treatment systems are not covered here.
Is my system owned by a water company?
If there is a visible label on your system showing the water company logo with an emergency call number and a code name for the system then it is very likely owned by the water company. If not, the likely answer is no. See sample below.
Who will be responsible for maintenance and problems if it is not owned by a water company?
Many pump stations on new developments fall under a company controlled by the residents and is typically called Estate Name (Location) Residents Management Company or similar. All residents pay a service charge to this company who in turn pay for maintenance and repairs on the equipment. Sometimes an alternative company deals with these matters and the residents pay a service charge.
Which is better?
They both have different pros and cons. Some are listed below:
Water Company owned pump system
- There is only one company that deals with the issue and is very proficient at doing so having several thousand to deal with across their regions.
- Their have to accept the design of the system in the first place. This means that the system being proposed must go through some rigorous checks before being accepted which usually results in a better system and a better user experience for the end user.
- Only one well established company to deal with
- Usually bigger companies and can be harder to deal with.
- The systems cost a lot more in the first place putting a lot of developers off using these systems.
- The design process can be lengthy and costly
- There are certain restrictions on how close these systems can be to houses which can reduce the incentive for a developer on a plot of land.
Privately owned pump station
- These types of systems are more cost effective to install and can be economical to run.
- Typically, they are larger systems so in the event of an emergency an engineer has 24 hours rather than about 4-6 hours, reducing call out costs.
- Maintenance costs are normally low when shared between a few households.
- When it is run by a management company of the households agreement has to be sought from a lot of people with a different range of motivations. This can make matters quite complex when trying to meet all their expectations.
- When households move on and other events sometimes the maintenance regime can be forgotten which can have severe negative impacts especially with insurance pay-outs, see below.
- It can be more complex as to who takes the blame when things go wrong and who will pick up the repair bill.
Please be aware that some insurance companies have chosen not to pay out for insurance claims due to a pump station not being under a maintenance agreement.
Some final details to help you to keep a household budget tight.
1. Check your systems are well maintained and your maintenance program is up to date,
2. Check you have adequate systems in place to warn you should something be awry,
3. Check all agreements with your water company and management company about what happens in the event of a system failure.
4. Check you are familiar with who is responsible for the drainage system and that this is well maintained and that easement areas are respected.