Approved plumber in the home

The UK’s water supplies are among the healthiest in the world – but problems in people’s own homes lead to thousands of avoidable drinking water test failures every year, a report has shown.


Poor plumbing practices and sub-standard water fittings are among the main causes of a deterioration in the quality of drinking water after it has left the public water mains and entered the private home pipework.

Lead, nickel, taste and odour are behind some of the failures and these are usually caused by the wrong materials and fittings being used or inadequate protection from water flowing back into the mains systems from appliances, such as dishwashers and other white goods.

These are among the findings published this year by the independent regulator for drinking water quality, the Drinking Water Inspectorate for England and Wales, in its annual report.

Now, WaterSafe, the national register for plumbers which is backed by all UK water companies, is urging homeowners and property managers to use approved plumbers to help keep drinking water supplies safe.

Matt Jackson, Anglian Water’s Water Fittings Manager, said: “Botched plumbing jobs cost UK homeowners millions of pounds every year. Just recently we have seen one customer have to replace their entire home’s water pipework because a rogue plumber they employed used lead solder. It cost them hundreds of pounds to rectify and far more than using a WaterSafe plumber originally would have.

“Before it gets to your tap, we clean, disinfect and test your water before putting it into supply. We spend millions of pounds and carry out hundreds of thousands of tests every year to make sure your drinking water is of the very highest standard. Finding a high quality plumber is easy, and important if you want to ensure the water coming from your tap is as pristine and wholesome as when it left our mains.”

Each year thousands of samples of water are taken from reservoirs, water treatment works, pumping stations, water mains and customers’ taps by water companies. These are tested in laboratories to monitor for a range of substances, including metals, pesticides and naturally-occurring bacteria which are measured against standards set by the World Health Organisation. The overall pass rate for drinking water in England and Wales was 99.96 per cent.

In addition to poor domestic plumbing, worn out washers and even cheap kettles can cause odd tastes and smells in water - and are easily-fixed problems.

Other common problems include:

Water tastes ‘medicinal’ or like TCP.
• Often, this is caused by cheap, plastic kettles. Try boiling water in a pan to see if the taste disappears.
• Try changing tap washers or putting in a quick-to-fit, non-return valve on washing machines and dishwashers.

Bacteria on taps
• Washing hands or raw meat at the sink and letting pets drink out of taps can allow bacteria to grow in the tap head. To keep bugs at bay regularly clean tap heads with a dilute bleach solution poured into a bottle cap and hold it in place for a few minutes to take effect.

Cloudy water
• This most often caused by tiny air bubbles in the system and is completely harmless. This can happen when hot and cold pipes are too close together and the heating of the cold water causes bubbles. Insulate your pipes and this won’t happen. Let the water stand in a jug in the fridge and the cloudiness should clear.

Water tastes stale
• This typically occurs when water has been sitting in your home’s pipes and the tap has not been used recently. It is a common complaint when people have returned from a week’s holiday. Simply run the tap for a few minutes to flush the system through. Remember to collect the water in a bowl and use it in the garden.

To find your nearest WaterSafe approved plumber, enter your postcode online at or download a leaflet and watch a video on how to keep water healthy in your home at:

Matt added “We hope the Keep Water Healthy campaign will equip people to deal with some of the minor water quality issues caused in the home.”