Escape of water is one of the most common causes of damage to all types of property and one of the most expensive to repair. It is also not just during the winter when this occurs, and should be monitored all year round.

Water can escape for many reasons, from pipes bursting in cold temperatures to faulty appliances leaking after breaking down.

In fact, escape of water is a greater risk for UK homes than burglary! Forty years ago, only 30% of UK homes were fitted with central heating; today that figure is closer to 95%.

When you take into account the value of the average household and its contents, such as wooden floors, fitted kitchens, furniture, carpets and TVs, the damage even a single burst pipe can cause can be very costly.

As long as you take the right precautions, you can limit the risk of water damage, or even prevent an escape of water.

With almost all houses now being fitted with central heating and washing machines, it’s easy to see why claims resulting from escapes of water are so common.

The most frequent causes are:

·       Burst or leaking pipes

·       Leaking appliances such as washing machines – it’s important to note that your policy will cover the resulting damage and not the cause, i.e. you won’t be covered for a new washing machine

And the damage isn’t always limited to the property where the water leak took place – in blocks of flats, leaks on upper floors sometimes result in damage to the properties below and their contents, potentially leading to very large claims.

Here are the checks landlords should undertake annually:

Check and bleed your radiators regularly

Bleeding radiators helps to prevent air bubbles forming, which can prevent heat circulation. This can lead to frozen pipes. Over time, trapped air and residue can also result in a leak.

Leave the heating running in winter

When the temperature drops to freezing or below, ask your tenants to leave the central heating running in all rooms at a constant temperature. If they’re going away and the temperature is likely to drop below freezing, ask them to set the central heating to a minimum of 10°C (50°F) for a few hours each day.

Switch the heating on briefly in summer

You may want to run your central heating system occasionally, even during the warmer months. Simply turning on your heating for 15 minutes a month will help to keep water flowing smoothly.

Check washing machines every 6 months

Washing machine hoses can become brittle over time, which can lead to leaks. Spotting the source of a leak can also prevent a build-up of unsightly mould.

Insulate exposed pipes

Some pipes are vulnerable to the cold if fixed to the inside of external walls or in unheated areas such as lofts. You can use foam sleeving to keep them from freezing, though in extremely cold conditions this may not be enough. As an extra preventative measure, you may want to fit additional trace heating under any lagging.

Find out where your stopcocks are (and check they actually can be turned off!)

There’s usually one inside and one outside your home. In the event of a burst pipe, you should quickly turn off the water supply to reduce the damage caused. If you’re going away, you may also want to invest in an approved device to automatically cut off your water supply if a burst pipe is detected.

Have your boiler serviced annually

This will highlight any issues to help avoid a breakdown and potential loss of heating during frosty conditions. Just before autumn is usually the best time to check both your boiler and your policy.

Tell tenants to switch your water off if they’re going away

And if they’re going away for an extended period or staying in a second home, arrange for a trusted friend or neighbour to check the property periodically.

For more information regarding property insurance or advice on devices to detect escape of water please contact GPS Insurance Brokers on 020 3907 7866