As a Las Palmas estate agent, I sell dozens of properties in the city every year so you’d think I know most things about the city’s quirks.
However, it wasn’t until I bought my own property that I learned these five things about the Las Palmas water and sewage system.
Some old Las Palmas houses are not connected to the sewage system
This is something we learned after buying a property in Guanarteme in 2017. The sewage system clogged up and we found out that our property (which is 80 years old) doesn’t have an official connection to the sewage system.
Getting a new connection to the sewage system takes a couple of months (due to paperwork) and costs well over 1000 euros. We were lucky and managed to reconnect the old connection and are now waiting for a permit to do it properly.
If you buy a townhouse or casa tererra (old one- or two-storey house) in Las Palmas, always check that there is a square metal manhole cover on the pavement outside that says Emalsa on it. If there is, you are connected to the sewage system. If there isn’t, you have an old connection that isn’t registered, or you have a cesspit under the house.
If you buy an old property in Las Palmas, or anywhere in Gran Canaria, it is worth having a good look at the pavement outside.
Emalsa can cut you off without warning
The local water supplier in Las Palmas is called Emalsa and most of the time it does a decent job of getting water to everyone in the city. This wasn’t always the case which is why many older properties have big water tanks on the roof.
Emalsa is a monopoly and can be a bit of a pain. We woke up in December 2017 to find that the water in our new property (bought in June) had been cut off. We were surprised because we’d been paying the bill by direct debit for three years without any problems (we’d rented the property before buying it).
It turns out that the bill had been in a previous tenant’s name and they had asked for the account to be closed. So, we got cut off without receiving any warning.
Getting reconnected involved a trip to Emalsa’s head office in Arenales. It can take a few days buy Emalsa reconnected us with 24 hours.
When you buy a Las Palmas property, always keep an eye on your bills and make sure that it is your name on them. If someone else’s name is on the bill, even if you’ve connected your bank account to the name, get it changed into your name as soon as possible to avoid future ‘surprises’.
Always talk to your neighbours
When we bought our Las Palmas property in 2017, we dismantled two old water tanks on the roof. They were made of Uralite which contains asbestos fibres. While it isn’t dangerous unless you break it and inhale the dust, the tanks were huge and leaked so we decided to get rid of them.
It was only after we’d paid a company to take them away (removing Uralite isn’t cheap as it has to be removed by a qualified company with the right permits) that we found out that the tanks belonged to a neighbour. It turns out that the previous had given him permission to put them on the roof almost 50 years before.
The neighbour wasn’t happy that we’d removed his tanks but was fine once we showed him the photos of the holes (and the bill for the removal).
If you buy a Las Palmas property, and especially an older one, it’s always worth talking to the neighbours to find out exactly who owns what, and whether there are agreements that you don’t know about.
Don’t install complex shower systems
The water supply in Las Palmas and most coastal areas of Las Palmas comes from desalinated water and is rich in minerals. These form deposits on the insides of water pipes over time and this deposit sometimes gets dislodged.
If you install complex thermostatic showers, the loose bits of residue can clog them up and stop the shower from working.
It’s a common problem in Las Palmas, even in modern buildings, and most local plumbers advise you to put in simple showers that don’t have lots of internal filters and valves.
With a simple system, you can unscrew the filter in the shower head and clean out any blockage if your shower water pressure drops. With a complex system, you need to have it replaced as even a plumber can get inside and clean out the blockage.
Your hot water boiler will break
The high mineral content of Gran Canaria’s water supply means that hot water boilers here break every few years and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Unless you install a big, expensive boiler there isn’t even any point getting them cleaned as the minerals and salt cause damage every day.
One day, your boiler will start to leak rusty water or will stop working. All you need to do is call a plumber and they will install a new one. Often the installation comes out very cheap because they can buy boilers from a hardware store with a trade discount.
By the way, if you like to have a bath rather than a shower every now and then, you need a minimum of a 50-litre boiler to fill the bath with hot water.
Drinking the water in Gran Canaria
Las Palmas and Gran Canaria’s drinking water is high in minerals and chlorine but is technically safe to drink. It is tested regularly and conforms to EU standards. If it doesn’t, the water company has to put out a warning.
That said, the tap water in Gran Canaria doesn’t taste very good so most locals buy big bottles of drinking water. They use the tap water to cook, brush their teeth and wash but prefer bottled water for drinking and making tea and coffee.
If you buy a Gran Canaria property and don’t want to carry heavy bottles of water every day, you can pay for an osmosis filter that gives you a pure water supply from at least one tap in the kitchen. They cost about 300 euros to install and 100 per year for a new filter.
I’m Laura Leyshon and my job is to help foreign buyers and sellers to get the best possible deal in Gran Canaria with the least amount of hassle. Don’t hesitate to email or phone me if you have any questions about Gran Canaria property as I am always happy to help.
Or, just ask a question using this form and I’ll reply ASAP (almost always within 24-hours).