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Protection Against Non-Weather Related Water Damage

by Rowena11. November 2013 15:57

   Every year insurance companies pay out millions of pounds to policyholders following water damage to their property and contents due to accidental overflows, defective plumbing apparatus or roof leaks.  Repairing water damage can be difficult and protracted as an adequate drying period is often required.  Damp can cause rot and mildew which can be very invasive. 


   Residential property owners and householders can do a great deal to reduce water damage caused by non-weather related events.


Plumbing Apparatus

   There are a number of factors affecting the likelihood of non-weather related water damage:

  • In hard water areas plumbing apparatus is more prone to the build up of limescale
  • A failure by installers to fit overflows to toilet cisterns can lead to leaks
  • Burying unprotected copper water pipes under concrete floors allows chemicals within the concrete to attack the metal pipework resulting in leaks which are difficult to repair.  Complete renewal of the pipework may be the only course of action to prevent recurring leaks.
  • Failure to have the central heating systems serviced by an annual maintenance contract
  • Failure to follow advice about rust
  • Inhibitors which extend the life of the central heating system and minimise leaks


 Preventative Measures to Avoid Water Leaks


  • Ensure the drain hoses from washing machines and dishwashers are firmly in the drainpipes and cannot jump out
  • Ensure the water inlet pipes for appliances are fitted correctly
  • Check and clear the filters in washing machines and dishwaters regularly.   If the machine has a special self-cleaning programme it is recommended that this is used
  • Properly maintain appliances


  • Ensure that the seal between the bath/shower cubicle and the wall tiles is watertight to prevent leaks
  • Do not leave the bathroom while a bath is being run

General Plumbing Apparatus:

  • A number of annual service and maintenance schemes have been developed in recent years which include emergency repair of leaking and blocked pipes with a guaranteed standard of workmanship.  Signing up to these services can be worthwhile because they ensure that plumbing apparatus are properly maintained


   There are a number of factors affecting the likelihood of non-weather related water damage:

  • A good slate or tiled roof can be expected to last up to 100 years.  However, it is normally the metal fixings that fail and in areas with high levels of air pollutants, erosion and eventual failure of the fixings can be expected in a shorter time. 
  • A full felt flat roof can be expected to last fifteen years.  However, if it has been poorly installed, its life expectancy will be drastically less
  • It is often the deterioration in the detailed parts of e roof; e.g. lead flashing , skylights, concrete cappings, chasings that cause the failure of the exterior covering

    Preventative measures should be taken to avoid roof leaks:

  • Have the roof  inspected by a qualified person at regular intervals; i.e. every ten years or less depending upon the age and condition
  • Visually inspect the roof every year
  • Make sure the pointing around any chimney is in good condition
  • Check that aerials are fitted onto secure brackets and securely strapped
  • Check for any nail fatigue
  • Refix any lost or loose slates or tiles
  • Check that leadwork is secure
  • Make sure chasings around flat roofs and metal flashings remain in good condition
  • Flat roofs should be cleaned every year and the guttering checked to ensure that it is clear and secure
  • Use performance exterior felt as opposed to a poor substitute when the flat roof needs replacing


Helpful Organisations

  • The Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE) – the UK’s professional body of plumbers.  It’s members must prove their competence and the Institute has a register of plumbers
  • There are a number of trade associations in connection with roof works.  Constructionline is the Government’s official register of approved construction contractors


Key Action Steps

  • Plan maintenance of the property.  For larger blocks of flats, repair costs can be high and adequate monies should be put aside
  • Make sure that all building and internal plumbing works are carried out by competent people.  Avoid cols callers
  • Do not leave washing machines or dishwashing appliances on whilst the property is left unattended
  • Make sure that all seals are properly maintained around baths and shower cubicles
  • Residential management committees, landlords and managing agents are advised to issue a list of the “dos and do nots” to avoid water damage.