Escape of water hazards in the home

‘Escape of water’ is one of the most common home claims and even the smallest leak can cause significant damage in the home, so it pays to be prepared and know what hazards to look out for.
Plumber lying on the floor working underneath a sink. Only his legs can be seen from under the sink.

Common causes of Escape of Water

Blocked drains

It may be tempting when you’re doing the washing up, but cooking fat, grease and oil should never be poured down the sink as this can cause blockages. Instead, pour it into a container and leave it to solidify. Then you can throw it away in the household rubbish instead. Blockages in showers and baths can also cause floods and are often caused by human hair clogging up the drain, so homeowners should regularly make sure they’re clear. Pouring bicarbonate of soda and vinegar down the drain, then flushing with warm water, is a first step you can take before resorting to stronger solutions.

Overflowing baths and showers

An obvious cause of flooding in the home, it is nonetheless easier than you think to leave a bath running while you take a phone call or run an errand. This can be particularly costly when you consider that the most damage occurs in the room below, especially if it’s the living room or kitchen where most homes’ electrical appliances are installed. Setting an egg timer for how long it takes to fill a bath – or setting an alarm on your phone, as a reminder to turn off the taps – are quick and simple solutions for those that get easily distracted.

Burst pipes

A burst pipe is arguably the most damaging cause of escape of water in the home, due to the sheer amount of water that can leak at staggering speed – as much as 400 litres an hour (that’s two full baths).

The most common causes of burst pipes are freezing temperatures and corroded copper piping, which can eventually buckle under pressure. Pipes and water tanks should be insulated during winter to avoid this, paying close attention to joints and bends, and the central heating should be kept on continuously at around 10°C during particularly cold snaps. Piping should be examined for signs of wear and tear and any dripping taps should also be repaired before the mercury drops.

Leaky appliances

Water escaping from fixed appliances, such as washing machines, dishwashers, radiators and boilers, are also common causes of flooding in the home and pipework should be regularly checked for leaks and signs of bulging or cracking. The risk increases with the growing number of appliances in modern homes, with more pipework that needs to be properly installed and maintained. Using your water meter, it’s easy to perform a simple leak check. First, make sure water is turned off inside and outside the home then record the reading of the water meter, then wait 15 minutes before checking again. If the meter has recorded water use during the test, it might be due to a leak.

What to do if you have an Escape of Water

If you have an escape of in your home, such as a burst pipe, there are a number of steps you can take in the first instance, before calling in professional help and your insurer to help resolve the situation. Turn the main stopcock off immediately – this is usually located under your kitchen sink. Open cold taps and flush toilets a few times to empty water from the system, switch off the central heating and don’t touch any wiring or switches that you think may have been affected. If in doubt, turn off your electricity at the mains.

If you’re affected by escape of water and need some help and advice on making a claim with us, we’re here to help. Before you make a claim, please make sure you have your policy and as many details of the damage as possible to hand, as these will speed up your claim. You can call us free on 0330 100 7783.

(First published 14-04-2015)


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