Escape of water continued to be a significant issue for both residential and commercial buildings in 2022, with a total of £987 million worth of claims made across the year, a 15% increase over 2021. This amounts to an average of around £2.7 million worth of escape of water losses every single day, not accounting for those where damage costs amounted to less than excess (please check the policy excess as damage can fall under this amount), or the additional costs that may have come from loss of rent, business disruption and potentially liability costs for a property owner.

Leaks can vary from major bursts, which can result in flows of up to 60 litres of water per minute, to minor leaks, which may remain undiscovered for several months if the leak is in a concealed area not visible to the building resident, or where the building is unoccupied for long periods.

Research has shown there are many causes of escape of water loss including cold weather, height of building, poor workmanship, faulty pipework and joints, modern lifestyles and lack of maintenance.

Leak detection and suppression devices

Even where a suitable risk assessment has been undertaken and precautions put in place, escape of water incidents will still happen. However, alongside improved water risk management planning, technological advances mean that leak detection and suppression devices are now available that can be fitted into new or existing buildings to significantly reduce the impact of a leak or burst pipe, should it occur.

Leak detection and suppression devices comprise of various components used together in several configurations.

Device components include:

  • Leak cable or point sensor – fitted in high risk areas to detect burst pipes or drips
  • Water shut-off valve – fitted in the incoming mains pipe to manually or automatically shut off the water supply following a leak or burst pipe
  • Ultrasonic sensor – fitted onto soil stack or drainage pipework to sense blockages
  • Multi point sensor – can include heat, humidity and water sensors in a single unit
  • Water flow monitor – fitted on or in the incoming mains supply pipe to measure flow rate, flow volume or water temperature
  • Control Panel – Interface between the components
  • Signalling & communication technology – signalling technology is used to send an alarm and system data to computers and mobile devices
  • Power supply – leak devices are powered via a combination of mains and battery supply
  • Smart platform – web-based applications allow remote control of valves and water consumption monitoring
  • Humidity – the devices also measure humidity which can be an early indicator of hidden damage

Click here to download Zurich’s Escape of Water guide that looks at common causes of escape of water in property.