Last Updated on December 30, 2016 by Mark Lavington
Preventing damage from water leaks
Each year, water leaks produce enough water to fill almost 4,000 Olympic sized swimming pools, and create millions of pounds of damage. As the weather gets colder, holiday homes are often left empty for longer periods during this time of year, hence the risk of water leaks is only increased.
FREE Water Leak Action Pack
To help you try to avoid leaks in your holiday home and to help your guests act quickly if one is discovered, we’re sending every one of our holiday home insurance policyholders a Water Leak Action Pack which contains:
- Guidance on preventing water leaks
- What to do if you, your housekeeper or guests discover a leak
- Somewhere to record where your stopcock is to be found
- Labels and stickers to clearly mark your stopcock
- Somewhere to record contact numbers incase of a leak
Once you have used the contents and recorded the important numbers the Water Leak Action Pack can be slipped into your holiday cottage welcome folder as useful aide memoir.
New customers will receive the pack when you take out a holiday home insurance policy. Existing customers will be sent one with your renewal receipt. If you can’t wait until your policy is due for renewal or if we usually correspond with you by email, contact us now and we’ll behappy to post one to you without delay.
Common causes of water leaks
Here we explain some of the common causes of water leaks in your holiday home and how you can combat them to ensure your cottage is always ready for your visitors.
One of the most common causes of water leaks is pipework failure. The issue will often occur at the joint at which one pipe meets with another. Most noteworthy is where flexible hose tails have failed. These are often used on wash basins, and to connect washing machines and dishwashers. Valves and ball cocks are also prone to failure, with all resulting in leaks that can have the potential to escalate quickly if not identified, which is an issue in unoccupied holiday homes that are not regularly checked.
Reasons for pipework failure
The failure can occur for a number of reasons; copper pipes are prone to corrosion over time, whilst poor workmanship can leave you with pipes that aren’t fit for use and ultimately cause big problems. It’s important to state here that if any alterations or additions are made to the pipework of your holiday home then they should be carried out by a qualified and reputable professional.
The most common of all causes of damage to pipework is freezing, which is why it’s vital that your pipes are sufficiently lagged, the heating is left on to maintain a minimum temperature throughout your holiday home to prevent pipes freezing or your water is turned off and the system is drained.
The temperatures have already dropped so if your holiday home is currently unoccupied then ensure these steps have been taken.
What to do if you find a leak
If you discover a suspected leak, it is vital that you take immediate action. The potential water loss from a burst pipe can be as much as 400 litres every hour; that’s about 4 full bath tubs of water, which if left floating around your cottage is going to quickly begin doing some serious damage.
Step one: Turn off the water supply and electrics
First port of call is always to turn off your water supply at the main stopcock; make sure you know where it is located so you can get to it as quickly as possible and have clear instructions for anyone looking after your property to do so. You will also need to turn off the electrics and heating to prevent any further damage or risk of fire.
Step two: drain the water system and take safe action
Next, drain the water system using the taps within the property, ensuring that the system is empty and no more water can leak and cause damage and empty the contents that are at risk and move them into a dry area.
If water is coming through the ceiling, collect it in a suitable receptacle. Similarly, if the ceiling is bulging you can consider piercing it to release the water. Furthermore this may help prevent the ceiling from collapsing. With both of these situations, only carry out the action if it is completely safe to do so.
The best way to stop leaks is to prevent it from happening at all. There are several measures you can take to keep your holiday let safe from water damage.
Measure one: Check your stopcock and systems on a regular basis
Checking your stopcock periodically can make things a lot easier if you do get a leak in the future. Check that it turns on and off easily; a stiff stopcock only adds extra worry to an already stressful situation.
Alongside checking the stopcock, regularly inspect and maintain your systems. Use an accredited plumber to inspect your pipework, in addition change washers and fix leaking taps without delay. You will also need to check water tanks and cylinders for any corrosion.
Measure two: Identify any high risk areas in your holiday cottage
Walk through your holiday home and identify any high risk areas and exposed pipework as these exposed pipes could be at risk of freezing, so will need proper insulation and lagging.
Measure three: Empty property procedures
If your holiday let is left empty for an extended period of time, isolate and drain down the water supply. Also, ensure that heating is properly maintained. Check that sink plugs are not left in, as water from any dripping taps could build up and cause issues.
Measure four: Helping your guests
We also recommend that you provide guests with important information on what to do should a leak occur, especially relevant:
- Instructions of where to find the stopcock
- Emergency contact information
Use your Water Leak Action Pack and follow these simple guidelines to prevent water leaks from turning into a bigger problem. Finally contact your holiday home insurance claims line without delay as they’ll provide you with advice and guidance and appoint specialists to help dry out and repair your property. Afterall you’ll want to get your holiday home up and running again without delay.
Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. We’re here to help and support you as a holiday homeowner. If you require advice or an insurance quote please give us a call on 01237 429444.