What you need to know about escape of water

  • Insurers pay out about £1.8m a day on escape of water claims, according to the Association of British Insurers
  • It is important to understand potential causes of escape of water in order to minimise the risks
  • We look at simple measures to help your organisation carry out preventative measures

Water damage is a continuing problem for many organisations that own or manage properties. In fact, escape of water is one of the most common domestic property claims, with insurers paying out about £1.8m a day according to the ABI. It is thought to affect around 43% of domestic properties.

While escape of water presents many complications, managing the risk could limit the problem for building owners, occupants and managers.

There are a range of factors that could cause an escape of water:

1. Contemporary lifestyles

Changing lifestyles can increase water hazards for an organisation or building, especially if the property has been upgraded with additional toilets and showers. Older properties with corroding pipes are a risk and should be replaced to limit the escape of water risk. If a building has experienced DIY improvements and repairs, then it is also important to ensure that pipes and fixtures have been installed correctly, to prevent serious damage happening in the future.

2. Consumer climate

Escape of water can often happen in winter when frozen pipes, left un-lagged, burst during a thaw. The damage can be extensive, potentially affecting walls, floors and furniture, along with the building itself if the damage is undetected. This type of escape of water risk is particularly common in unoccupied properties when the pipes are not regularly warmed through heating. It is important for organisations to take extra precautions in colder months to ensure all exposed pipes are appropriately insulated and regular routine inspections are carried out.

3. Construction and workmanship

Poor building construction can increase the risk of escape of water. This includes incorrect installation of modern plumbing methods and the failure of joints in pipework. Human error, such as valves being mistakenly left open prior to changing the water supply system, can also cause a water leak. Organisations could consider making it mandatory for installations or repair work to only be carried out by plumbers with appropriate third party accreditation, such as APHC (Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors) or CIPHE (The Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering).

For further insight on the causes of escape of water in homes, please read our interactive guide.

How can your organisation limit escape of water risks?

It is important for organisations to understand how they can minimise their escape of water risk. Preventative measures and a robust plan of action can help minimise risk exposure.

Organisations should:

• Ensure regular inspections are carried out on cold water tanks and pipework
• Inspect and maintain sealant around showers
• Repair dripping taps as soon as possible
• Check for dripping or leaking overflows
• Be aware that if heating fails, this may be due to freezing pipes
• Quickly isolate appliances if leaking
• Be aware and do not ignore signs of water leaks
• Ensure emergency call out numbers are available

How tech can help minimise escape of water risks

The use of technology, such as a remote meter reading and leak warning devices, can provide real help in identifying water leaks in a supply system. There are also devices that enable water consumption analysis and recognise abnormal usage trends – providing an early warning of water leaks.

Additionally, devices can be designed for individual buildings and linked to a smartphone. This enables a notification to be sent if a leak occurs when the property is unoccupied – some devices can also cut off the water supply automatically.

It is worth your organisation becoming familiar with the Water Technology List, which can help you identify the most appropriate technology to help your organisation maximise preventative opportunities.

Find out more about how emerging technologies can prevent water leaks.