Water damage can cause devastation to properties and owners alike. Are there any ways to prevent extensive damage and costs?
Leaks and water damage has always been one of the main players in claims with insurers paying out around £2.5million a day for escape of water claims. At Aviva water/ fluid escape claims account for a third of all claims by value. This teamed with the average home insurance claim rising significantly by 66% in the last three years to £2,500 has led to water damage becoming an area that would benefit from early action.
One of the main causes of water damage to property is plumbing leaks. Matt Cooper, Revival Group Director, explains the most common types and how they can be prevented from causing extensive damage.
What are the most common types of leaks to be aware of?
Leaks occur from four main areas:
1. A poorly soldered or fitted compression joint which can slow weep.
This is often a long-term problem which can go unnoticed for many months. Ordinarily, by the time the policy holder is aware of a problem, the water has travelled across the entire house. This means extended drying times as water has had the chance to penetrate deeply in the building structure.
2. A corroded pipe / pin holed, causing slow weep which increases over time.
This occurs when copper pipes are set into concrete without any protection.
Failure is between 10 and 25 years depending on the quality of the copper and the concrete’s moisture content. Again, this causes extended drying times.
3. Low cost / quality braided flexible tap connectors – a fairly catastrophic failure.
The pipe degrades over time and bursts – generally when the policy holder is away.
Water may leak at the rate of 10 litres per minute causing extensive property damage and a sizeable water bill too. If the leaks occur in a bathroom or en-suite on the upper floors it can cause ceilings to come down in every ground floor room.
4. Poor quality or badly fitted plastic push-fit connectors – also a fairly catastrophic failure. These have the same impact as point 3.
Other areas of common leaks include the connections on the back of the fridge, washing machine, dishwasher, theses leaks can go unnoticed for a significant period of time that will mean extended drying times.
Long term leaks lead to extensive mould growths and wood rots; both can be extremely damaging to the occupants’ health and the structural integrity of the property too.
The time taken to discover the leak is the first problem but the whole process is exacerbated when it’s not treated quickly or as important.
What action can be taken quickly?
The cause of a water leak is often hidden so to accurately trace the leak back to its root, specialist equipment and years of experience is required. Trace & access, or leak detection as it’s more commonly referred to, is the process of identifying and locating leaks, either external to, or within a property, which may be causing the water damage.
Using a number of methods including: Thermography, gas detection, ground microphones and listening devices, trained and skilled technicians can pinpoint a leak to within a matter of centimetres. This accuracy means it may not be necessary to have to dig up the entire floor of a property just to find a leaking pipe, saving time and expense. With the source of the water leak located and eliminated, the drying process can proceed unhindered and efficiently.
What can the industry be doing about this?
Education is going to be important in addressing leaks. Raising awareness of the dangers of leaks and water damage by offering policy holders advice on what they should be looking for and how to solve the problem will help prevent damage at the first sign of a leak.
Raising awareness among organisations is crucial too. Placing importance on speed with dealing with water damage and leaks, even if they seem minor, can help prevent large scale damage, disruption and cost. Just by teams appreciating that a leak can be a symptom of a real issue, rather than something that can be patched up means that we can work to reduce the number of large claims made in water damage.
In addition to this investing more in solutions such as leak detection at an earlier stage will help to reduce the overall cost and damage caused to properties by water damage.
If you want to find out more about leak detection contact us at Revival to find out more how our service can help.