Water Damage - Ask The Experts

Ask The Experts

This diagram explains what you are responsible for as a property owner and what is the responsibility of the local water company. 

NB This is approximate – for details of exactly where the property owner’s responsibility starts, see diagram at the bottom of the page. Also note, the customers responsibility starts at the outlet of the meter, NOT the property boundary.

Ask the Expert: Loss adjuster – Richard Headington, Guernsey Director, Channel Islands Adjusters Ltd

Richard Headington

What is your professional experience of Escape of Water claims?

I have been working in insurance for 32 years, the majority of which have been spent dealing with property claims. During my adjusting career I have dealt with in excess of 10,000 claims, over 50% of which have been for escape of water.

There is no single particular cause that has contributed towards the increased volume of such claims. Properties have more appliances and components served by water, whether en-suite shower rooms, dishwashers or underfloor heating, all of which have the potential for failure and therefore to cause water damage.

The more serious claims arise when a leak occurs at ground floor level of the property. A leak on an upper floor is generally identified soon due to staining on ceilings or water penetrating from upper floors to the lower levels.

The more extensive, and therefore expensive, claims generally arise when an on-going leak at ground floor level goes undetected for a significant period resulting in widespread water damage, particularly under tiled or wooden floor coverings.

Very often the water damage only becomes apparent when visible damage is evident some distance from the source of the origin of the leak.

What can be done to reduce the impact/likelihood of this kind of flooding? 

Property owners can reduce the impact and likelihood of escape of water damage by regularly checking showers, a common source of water damage claims, by re-sealing the joints between shower trays and wall tiles; checking waste fittings and replacing ‘hidden’ shower control valves.

Annual pressure tests can be undertaken on pipes situated below floor covering level to check for any leakage not visibly apparent.

A slow leak from a pipe may be ongoing for many months before the screed becomes saturated and visible damage affects the floor coverings, wall skirtings or doorframes.

Water detection alarms placed under base units in kitchens and utility rooms, adjacent to washing machines and dishwashers, would also alert a property owner to any on-going leak in an area of the building that is a common source of water damage claims.

 

Ask the Expert: Andy Burns, Senior Loss Adjuster - Channel Islands Manager, Crawford & Company Chartered Loss Adjusters 

Andy Burns

What is your professional experience of Escape of Water claims?

 I have just over 20 years’ experience as an insurance claims loss adjuster handling all variants of claims from very large commercial fires to extensive domestic flooding. I have worked throughout the UK and I have been based in Jersey for the past 15 years and without doubt water damage accounts for the largest percentage of claims that loss adjusters handle. Upon discovery of water damage the insurer is usually notified, quickly followed by my appointment to immediately attend to inspect the damage and deal with the claim on behalf of insurer until conclusion.

Escape of water claims vary from pinhole leaks in concealed pipes within a property, causing staining, damp and inevitable trace and access works, to failures in hot water cylinders or mains water pipework causing saturation of entire homes and businesses.

 On my arrival, it’s not unusual for me to find water escaping out of the front door of a property having already percolated its way through three floors causing devastation, great upset and disruption. The most common causes of escape of water are failed pipes and water tanks, leaking domestic appliances, and overflowing / leaking baths and showers.

 On many occasions owners have had to vacate their property and find alternative accommodation in the Island for several months while strip out, professional drying and reinstatement works are undertaken.

 Business interruption at commercial properties affected by water damage also causes huge disruption as businesses attempt to work around the damage or in, more extreme situations, move the entire business to alternative premises.  The costs associated with escape of water incidents can be huge and I have experienced a range of between several hundred to several million pounds; however the costs are not purely financial they are equally emotional and disruptive.

 What can property owners do to reduce the impact/likelihood of being affected by flooding?

 There are many ways people can help prevent water damage:

  • Ensure pipes are lagged in loft spaces and the property is heated even to a low level if on holiday over winter.
  • Inspect shower/bath seals and make sure they are fully sealed and renew if needed
  • Annually service hot water cylinders, heating systems and ask your plumber to inspect visible plumbing joints for signs of any wear/corrosion
  • Have all plumbing works undertaken by a professional
  • Consider installing leak detection equipment, it is reasonably priced and gives peace of mind especially for older systems.

 I recommend the following measures to reduce the impact of water damage once it is discovered:

  • Act quickly, know where your stop cock is and turn it off before then contacting your insurers/plumbers/cleaners etc
  • If the water has contacted any electrical fitting isolate the mains supply until an electrician can attend
  • Mop up any standing water and move any contents/furniture out of the path of the water that may be dripping through ceilings or tracking across floors

 

Ask the Expert: Plumber: Charlie Franks, Owner, MyPlumber.je

 What is your professional experience of Escape of Water claims?

 Most of the cases I attend to are burst hot water cylinders, so I would suggest that hot water cylinders are serviced every year as to per manufacturers instructions.

 What can property owners do reduce the impact/likelihood of being affected by flooding?

 Along with having your cylinders serviced, always check for furry-like damp creeping up the walls, damp patches on the ceiling, and make sure your gutters are regularly cleaned out. Also try and invest in leak detection sensor alarms, they generally give you plenty of warning thus saving quite a bit of money in damages.

 

Ask the Expert: Property dryer, Albe Heffy, owner/director, Chem-Dry Jersey  

Albe HeffyWhat is your professional experience of Escape of Water claims?

We specialise in drying of properties after flooding or escape of water within buildings.

 What can property owners do reduce the impact/likelihood of being affected by flooding?

External: 

  • Clean out gutters and down spouts from any debris every year
  • Redirect any water that is close to your property by extending you drain pipe or diverting it in a water butt
  • If possible, make sure roots from plants and trees are kept away from drains

Internal:

  • Always know where your stopcock is located internally and externally and shut off if you have an escape of water issue
  • Have you hot water cylinder serviced every year
  • Inspect all rubber hosing on washing machines and dish washers, for signs of cracking and change immediately if found
  • If any electrics have been effected, turn off by the mains and call in an electrician
  • If your water bill is higher than the previous years, call a plumber to investigate, as this may be due to a leak

  

The water authorities

How much should you pay?

In Jersey, you can compare your water bill to average quarterly bills, which show how much you might typically expect to pay depending on the number of people living in the property. You can get an idea of an estimated average quarterly water bill from Jersey Water here:-

https://www.jerseywater.je/files/public-docs/jersey_water/your_account/Schedule_of_Tariffs_and_Charges_STC.pdf

On a Guernsey Water invoice the average usage per day for the previous 3 quarters is displayed and this would be a good guide to see if further checks are required.

Both Jersey Water and Guernsey Water can provide advice if a leak is suspected, but you should contact your plumber in the first instance.

Water pipe responsibility diagram supplied by Guernsey Water

Your responsibility starts at the outlet of the water meter
(diagram kindly supplied by Guernsey Water) 

You can get more information on the company websites;

https://www.jerseywater.je

http://www.water.gg