Tips to prevent escape of water

  • Escape of water is one of the most common causes of property damage in the UK, accounting for a fifth of home insurance claims
  • Over the last three years, the average cost of these claims has risen by nearly a third
  • We discuss how registered providers of social housing can help their tenants to reduce the risk of water leaks

Escape of water is one of the most serious property risks your tenants are likely to face – with even minor escapes having the potential to cause significant damage.

In the first nine months of 2017, insurers paid out nearly £500m to customers affected by escape of water incidents. Over the last three years, the average cost of a domestic escape of water claim has risen by 31% to £2,638.

The fact that water can travel long distances – often undetected – means it doesn’t take a large escape to cause major damage to a home and its contents.

The five most common causes of water leaks

  1. Frozen pipes: Pipes can freeze and burst, causing water to release from the break.
  2. Household appliances: Incorrectly plumbed-in appliances, such as washing machines and dishwashers, can lead to significant escape of water.
  3. Sinks, baths and drains: Bath and shower trays could leak if the silicone sealant around them starts to peel away, or mould could start growing which could lead to decay and cause a leak. Drains can also become blocked and burst.
  4. Radiator and boiler leaks: Boiler and radiator valves and joints should be checked. Valves and joints can leak if rusty, worn out or not closed properly.
  5. Gutters: Backed up gutters can cause roof leaks.

We have produced a guide called ‘How to keep your home safe and dry’, which contains useful information for registered providers of social housing and tenants, about identifying different types of leaks and reducing the risk of water damage.

Top tips for noticing a water leak

A water leak may not always be easily noticeable, and it’s worth encouraging tenants to look out for the following signs:

  • A dramatic increase in water usage: Encourage tenants to monitor their water bill closely – especially if they are on a meter. If water usage increases dramatically in any month this may need investigating as it could be a sign of a leak
  • Small damp patches: Encourage tenants to alert you if they spot damp patches, as these could indicate a leak. Providing them with emergency call out numbers in the event of a leak could help to minimise water damage

It is also important your tenants know where their stopcock is, and can turn it off easily in the event of a leak. The stopcock is usually found beneath the sink in the kitchen or in a hallway cupboard.

These actions can help protect properties and minimise the damage caused following an escape of water. For more information, read our guide on ‘How to keep your home safe and dry’ or to discuss any aspect of this guidance in greater detail, please call us on 0800 232 1901 or email us at