Category: Utilities

Taste and smell issues with South West Water

Sometimes your water may smell, look or taste different than usual. We’ve attempted to break down the underlying issues below with help from South West Water.

The water tastes musty

Musty and earthy tastes in water are caused by organic matters such as algae in untreated water. They may produce these kind of compounds in South West Water supply, despite the tap water quality being at a record high.

This slight residual taste or smell mostly occurs late summer and early autumn when levels in the sources of the uplands of Dartmoor, Exmoor and Bodmin Moor and natural springs are at their biggest. Do not worry, as the treatment process still reduces the level of anything harmful from the water.

The water tastes oily

In the case your water tastes oily you should contact South West Water on their services helpline as soon as possible.

Oily tastes are caused by any spilt oils that have sept through polyethylene supply pipes, from petrol to paint thinner. This causes the supply to be contaminated and you will notice the taste or smell quickly.

The water tastes of antiseptic or chlorine

As the South West Water supply is mainly sourced from rivers and reservoirs fed from the moors and natural underground reserves of water and natural springs, some chlorine is added at treatment works to disinfect it. This problem is not harmful.

You may notice a slight difference in smell or taste despite the high quality of the South West Water supply. If it causes concern or the problem is consistent you may wish to store drinking water in a refrigerator in plastic bottles or a jug and replace it every 24 hours. By chilling the water you will reduce the strange taste as it dissipates and evaporates.

If you believe the taste is particularly strong and smells metallic, bitter or like antiseptic and does not reduce when used in hot drinks, then there is usually another problem. South West Water has found the most likely cause of the unpleasantness is components in internal plumbing systems, usually made of rubber. Appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers may also have rubber flexible supply hoses that affect the taste.

They recommend you fit a ‘non return’ or ‘check’ valve between the supply hose and cold water supply, preventing water being tainted by any connecting rubber hose which may be new or breaking. They have these to order on the South West Water website that are suitable for most domestic appliances.

Water pressure problems with South West Water

When South West Water undertake some necessary works to local pipes and sewerage your pressure can potentially be affected intermittently. If the company are doing any work in your area you will be able to track it on their WaterLive service on the website.

Water firms have no limit on the water pressure so it is your responsibility to ensure pipework are capable of transporting the water at pressure they supply.

What affects the water pressure?

There are a number of things that could make your water pressure lower or higher than usual. They could be:

· The height of the property – as the higher the elevation of the property equals more of a pressure loss, it all depends on the height in relation to the water main and local reservoir

· Internal plumbing – the longer the pipes, the longer the water has to travel so pressure is lost along the way

· The condition of the service pipe – as you would imagine, the worse the condition of the pipe, the bigger loss of pressure as the water will struggle to be drawn through smaller and older pipes or ones that are made of galvanised iron or lead

· If the property shares a supply pipe with others – the more properties the supply is shared with the greater loss of pressure

· Peak demand – times such as breakfast and tea have a higher demand for water so if your water supply is shared the lower the pressure will be

· Leaks – if you are losing water elsewhere the lower the flow of water to taps and showers and the lesser the pressure

What can I do to improve pressure?

You can alter the internal stop tap to receive lower or higher pressure by fully opening it or turning it down a small amount at a time, respectively. Turning it downs means your pressure will reduce downstream of the tap as flow is drawn off.

If you are concerned about the high pressure you can also install pressure-reducing devices on your pipework, which can be fitted yourself or a plumber. Alternatively, it may be an issue with the external stop tap – usually found at the edge of the property - which you can check if it safe to do so.

Your stop tap may also be situated inside the meter chamber if you are in a metered property. It will be a plastic toggle that should be turned 90 degrees to open or a brass tap that should be unscrewed until it stops naturally.

What can South West Water do?

Isolating the supply by the external or internal stop tap will limit any risk of property damage, but if the problem persists you can contact South West Water on their services helpline where a technician can be sent out to view the property.

They will then investigate and if the test is inconclusive there will either be an external service pipe issue or an internal plumbing problem. South West Water will check if it the fault of a burst water main or other operational fault and if not will send another inspector out to make further checks.

Registering your online South West Water account

South West Water provide an online service which enables you to manage your account when you wish.

How to register

You will need the first 8 digits of your customer reference number to register which you will see on the top of your bill, and a valid email address that you must have access to. Any information SWW have for you will be sent to your email from then on.

Any other details given on the online registration form should be exactly the same as they appear on the bill.

What can I do online?

The ‘My Account’ service will offer a range of different services registered users can access at home securely.

No information you give to the company will be passed on to any third parties unless you have agreed to let them. The information is dealt with by experienced members of staff and is sent via secure online servers.

The following list of services is provided by the South West Water website:

· Pay online

· Change contact details

· Send a meter reading

· View meter reading history

· Move online

· View payment plan details

· View other ways to pay

· View billing and payment history

· Request paperless billing

· Apply for a water meter

· Apply for a leak allowance

· Apply for a renovation allowance

I’ve forgotten my personal details

If you are a registered customer and have forgotten either you user ID or password you are able to use an online form to reset them. You will need to have the first 8 digits of your customer reference number handy from the top of your bill, and your name and address exactly how it appears on your letter for security reasons.

You can click here to access the forgotten password form and here for the forgotten user ID form.

New or moving South West Water customers

Moving house

If you are an existing South West Water customer and are moving home, you can inform them by registering for an online account and completing a change of address form online. If you’d prefer to talk to somebody over the phone you can request a call back from the company’s accounts helpline.

Metered properties

You must note down your meter readings on the day you move if you are moving in or out of a metered property so the water firm can update your account. If you don’t have access to the meter and nobody can read it for you, you should call the Accounts Helpline with 10 working days’ notice

Landlords are also responsible for any water charges between tenants so you will need the meter reading to notify South West Water of a change in tenancy.

Unmetered properties

Contact South West Water no more than 28 days before moving in or out of an unmetered property so that the completion date of your payments is confirmed.

They will send a final bill to your new address to let you know if you owe anything or have overpaid when moving out of the region.

If you are moving within the area the firm will bill you from that date onwards and transfer any balance you may have on your account to the new address.

Amending names on the account

To add or remove names from an existing account with South West Water you should call the accounts helpline who can make the amendments.

Names must be added to the bill if you are moving into a property with a SWW customer, whether they are partners or housemates. You will also need to inform the firm if that person has moved out of the property as they are no longer taking join responsibility for the charges.

New customers

If you are a new SWW customer and have moved into an area that falls under their remit you can use an online form to let them know. Alternatively, you can call their contact number to speak to a member of their Accounts team or request a call back online.

Again, you will be billed from the date you move in so you should take note of the meter reading on the day if you have one. SWW will send you a welcome letter which will have your reference number which you use in the future to pay your bills or set up a payment plan.

Financial difficulties paying your bill with Southern Water?

Southern Water provide four help schemes for those having financial issues paying their water bill, as they understand the problems many face in difficult economic times.

Water Direct

This scheme is for those claiming JSA, ESA, income support or pension credit. The Job Centre often considers paying Southern Water directly from your benefits and will take a fixed amount if you fall into £50 arrears to cover what you owe. If you want to be considered for this assistance scheme you can call Southern Water or complete and online application form.

NewStart

This system is for those who can prove they can start paying any owed water bill arrears in regular instalments. If they do so the company will credit your account with an amount equal to what you pay.
The number is paid annually if you successfully make your payments weekly, fortnightly or monthly. You must owe Southern Water at least £600 or have not paid a bill in the last two year to qualify for this scheme. Again, to apply for the scheme you can use the contact number or fill out the online form.

WaterSure

If you satisfy a certain criteria, use a large amount of water supplied by a water meter, you may be able to apply for a bill reduction. The will reduce your bill by £410 between April 2015 to March 2016 if you qualify for the scheme. You, or someone in your household must be receiving one of the following tax credits or benefits:

· Child Tax Credit (more than the family element)

· Housing Benefit

· Income-based JSA

· Income Support

· Means-tested Council Tax Benefit (not including reductions/discounts)

· Pension Credit

· Working Tax Credit

· Income related ESA

And also be either responsible for three or more children that are living at home and under 19 in full time education, or you, your child or person who receives the benefit have a specific medical condition that means the water usage is higher than normal. The medical conditions are:

· Abdominal stoma

· Crohn’s disease

· Desquamation (flaky skin disease)

· Eczema, psoriasis or varicose ulceration (weeping skin disease)

· Incontinence

· Ulcerative colitis

· Renal failure (where they need home dialysis)

· Another condition which means they have to use a lot of extra water

To apply you can complete an online application form, but must also send some supporting documents as evidence. These can be:

· A photocopy of a prescription form/doctor’s certificate

· A photocopy of the latest ‘notice of entitlement’ to Child Benefit for each child

· A photocopy of the latest ‘notice of entitlement’ for benefits or tax credit

· A doctor’s certificate or a letter from a GP or consultant confirming that this condition needs extra water

Essentials Tariff

In the case your Southern Water charges are worth 5% or more of your household’s total income after housing cost deductions, you could qualify for discounted Essential Tariff for future payments. There is also an online form for this – taking around 20-30 minutes to complete - if you do not wish to call. You will need to have your payment reference number, income and expenditure details, NI number and personal details to hand when doing so.

Completing the online form

All of the above tariffs and schemes require you to fill out a Financial Assistance application form. If you have any trouble doing so, don’t forget you can seek advice from your local Citizens Advice Bureau Money Advice Service or StepChange Debt Charity who can do a simple online debt check for you.

The impact of fat, oil and grease on your drains

Though it should be common knowledge, there are some surprising statistics about the effect of pouring any fat, oil and grease down your drains. Southern Water is one of the utility firms that are trying to make all customers aware of the dangers, encouraging everybody to make some small changes at home and businesses.

The impact

Fat, oil and grease (FOG) account for 75 percent of drain and sewer blockages reported to Southern Water, usually coming from residual food-prep fat, oil, butter, margarine or lard that has been poured down the sink in impatience.

Over £15 million has been spent on clearing FOG blockages across the country, with 3000 homes flooded because of it every year. As it collects in pipes and sewer systems the FOG solidifies into a material as thick as concrete, restricting the flow of wastewater and causing it to back up through sinks and toilets and potentially escape through manholes in the streets.

Adding to the rising pollution in the country, the issue affects networks, homes and businesses and often puts wastewater pumping stations out of action meaning teams upon teams of operative work is needed to keep our sewers flowing smoothly.

Environmental effects

As the fat jams cause household appliances to be plumbed incorrectly, dirty waste water is in hand pumped into the streams and rivers rather than to cleaning treatment works. Undeniably, sewers flooding into your neighbourhood and polluting streams have a harmful effect on the environment; human errors that can be eradicated quite simply.

Effects on homes and businesses

Besides the environmental issues, FOG blockages can be costly to businesses who fail to dispose of waste properly. Simple changes can be made to avoid expensive repairs that often mean businesses have to close while they are being done.

To prevent kitchen FOG build ups you should ideally be wiping and scraping plates and utensils of all foodstuffs and disposing of it in the main rubbish bin before washing them. Strainers should be used in the plughole to collect any food so none is flushed down the pipes.

It’s useful to pour or scrape any grease or oily food waste into a container or jar, allowing it to cool before throwing it away in the usual waste. You can also use fat traps to collect excess oil if you think you will need to dispose of it often.

In the bathroom pipes are usually only four inches wide, so despite the packaging of some wet wipes they are not suitable to be flushed down the toilet. Only human waste and toilet paper should be flushed.

Whose responsibility is a blocked sewer?

If you are a customer of Southern Water you can call them to establish whether a FOG build-up is a public or private problem. If they determine that the issue lies in your private drain you must contact a drainage company independently, who can resolve it for you.

If Southern Water are unable to conclude where the FOG has come from over the phone they will arrange a visit to examine the pipes. They will ask you to sign a consent form if they find the blockage is in your private drain and they will clear it if it can be done quickly.

There are many other companies who offer free fat and oil collection. Ensure the waste carrier is a part of the Environment Agency and the fat will go onto be recycled, producing fuel and generating electricity.

Moving and setting up an account with Southern Water

Moving in

If you are moving into a Southern Water region and haven’t previously had the company you are able to set up your account on their website.

Check if your postcode fits within the Southern Water area on the site first off all, and then all you need to do is complete the form. You should have your meter reading, bank details, personal details and payment reference number to hand.

Moving out

To inform Southern Water that you are moving out of the area you can complete this form. In this case you will need to fill in your address or payment reference number, name, new address, email address and your meter reading – if you have one.

Moving within

Again, it’s possible to inform Southern Water if you are just moving from one household to the next within the area on an online form. They will ask you for your name and address, email address, number, date of moving, and your payment reference number. If you wish to set up a direct debit you should have your card details handy, too.

How to change your details

If you wish to notify the company of any changes to your details you can fill in this form. All you will need is your name and address, the same 13 digit reference number and a preferred method of contact.

The future of Southern Water online

Moving into more of the digital world, Southern Water are currently creating an online service where you will be able to log in and manage your account when you wish. The customer portal should allow you to view your bills, payments and account balance and let you manage your payments.

Alongside a range of other services you’ll also be able to track your water usage, which will be a useful money-saving tool. The firm are allowing customers to register an interest for these services so you can be the first one to experience them when they become available.

Ways to pay your Southern Water bill

When paying Southern Water your bill you can choose from a number of ways to do so. We’ve outlined them for you below.

· Online

You are able to make payment with Santander BillPay. You will need your payment reference number to do this. You should make it payable to the bank sort code 57-70-63 and bank account number 00000000.

· Telephone

You can use the 24-hour automated phone line to do this. Use the same bank numbers as above and have the payment reference number handy. Call 0330 303 1263. You can also use this number to amend any details, set up direct debits and inform Southern Water you are moving house.

· Payment card

This option is useful for someone without a bank or building society account and you are still able to spread the cost over 12 months. You are able to get a card online and can use it in post offices or in a shop that has a PayPoint sign.

· By post

Send a single payment cheque with your payment slip and write your payment reference number on the back. Make it payable to Southern Water and send it to: Southern Water, PO Box 41, Worthing, BN13 3NZ

· Direct Debit

This is the simplest and most convenient way to pay the bill as you needn’t think about doing it manually every month. You can sign up for a direct debit online or by phone.

· Bank or Post Office

It’s free to pay a bill at the post office, Natwest and the majority of other banks. Halifax and Abbey are an exception to this

· PayPoint

PayPoints are in thousands of locations nationwide. They will usually display the PayPoint sign outside the store or in the window. There you can pay the bill simply by taking it with you.

Water saving tips with Severn Trent Water

On top of the free water-saving products Severn Trent Water have to offer, which you can read about here, they have provided some tips on how to save money and water in the future.

We at Prove I Called have broken the tips down for you below:

· Cut down your shower time – this goes without saying. If everyone in your household cut down their showers by a few minutes each, you will soon reap the benefits of cheaper bills. You can also order a water-saving shower head from Severn Trent.

· Make full use of your appliances – on top of washing clothes at a lower temperature, you should use smaller cycles and full washes when you can to use less energy. The same goes for dishwashers; hold out and wait until they are full before washing.

· Don’t water your lawn – despite looking like they may wither away, any spot of the famous British rain will put them back right into order. Avoid wasting water in this way as we can assure you, it will rain.

· Wash your veg in a bowl – instead of draining in a colander with a running tap you can reduce waste by just washing them in a bowl. With the remaining water you could water your plants or fill your vase of flowers.

· Spot a leaky toilet – if you happen to notice water running down the pack of the pan you should nip it in the bud as soon as possible. That little trickle, even if you can’t hear it, can waste litres upon litres of water a day. And for what?

· Turn off the tap – brushing your teeth, washing your hands and shaving. Don’t leave the tap on and save over 5 litres of water, per minute!

· Use your water butt – if you have a water butt, remember to use it! If you haven’t you can buy one from Severn Trent and receive some advice about the benefits of having one.

· Opt for a shower instead of a bath – when a bath can use up to 80 litres, and a shower under 40 you are cutting your usage in half (provided they aren’t power showers).

All of the above are very simple changes you can make to save water and money. Furthermore, Severn Trent Water have provided a water footprint calculator so you can see how much water you use and whether there is anything you can change.

Get a free Water Efficiency Check with Severn Trent Water

In order to potentially lower you water bill, Severn Trent are currently offering a free Home Water Efficiency Check for selected customers.

What is it?

Technicians will visit your home and check for any leaks and any simple repairs that can be made to taps and toilets. A member of Severn Trent will arrive at the time of your appointment showing their ID card.

If you have a single flush toilet they can also convert it to a dual flush so you are only using the water you need. Furthermore, they can assess the flow rate of your shower and taps to see if any water efficiency device will benefit you.

The test will take under an hour and will supply the installation of free money and water-saving devices around the home where appropriate. When they have done so they will provide you with a certificate of the devices and estimate how much money you will save every year by using a Water Efficiency Calculator.

How do I get a Water Efficiency Check?

All you need to do to check your eligibility is to enter your postcode into the form on the Severn Trent Water website where you will receive more information and book an appointment.

Why should I get a Water Efficiency Check?

It goes without saying that saving money on both water and utility bills is a positive thing. By using less water, you use less gas to heat the water.

It is also possible to order some free water-saving products online for Severn Trent Water customers. All you need to do is select items you would like and add the items to your basket, like buying any other products online.

Some products they offer include:
‘The Hippo’ – designed by Severn Trent the device is inserting into the toilet cistern and saves up to 1.2 litres of water per flush

Shower timer – a four minute shower timer designed to ensure you cut energy and water bills

‘ShowerSave’ – regulates your hot water flow to 8 litres per minute

‘Fat Trap’ – traps oil, fat and grease instead of you pouring the oil into your sink and blocking it when it solidifies. This device also aids the main sewerage system and is great for the environment

Have a look at Severn Trent Water products on offer here.