Water Damage - How to Check for Leaks

How to Check for Leaks

Homeowner's Checklist

Simple checks around the home will give you some peace of mind, and you can invest in your property to make it more resistant to escape of water:

  • Regularly monitor your water meter readings (if you have one) so you can spot any big increases in usage. If you don’t have a water meter consider having one fitted (free of charge in Guernsey). This will not prevent a leak but will likely highlight one much sooner than would otherwise be the case.
  • Carry out a regular inspection of your home with plumbing and heating systems in mind. Check seals on washing machine and dishwasher doors, and around the edges of baths and showers. Don’t ignore leaking taps – they could signal other issues.
  • Look out for any signs of a leak such as visual damage to decorations, walls and floors, musty or damp smells, cracks in grouting or seals and any lifting or discolouration of floors and carpets. Pay careful attention to any parts of your home that are not used regularly.
  • Note if any sealed (pressurised) heating systems constantly need to be “topped up”. Topping up is usually indicative of either a fault or a leak and should be reported to and investigated by your plumber.
  • Make sure that you book your annual service for plumbing and heating maintenance. 
  • Check that your annual maintenance contract covers hot water cylinders as well as oil and gas boilers as failure to service hot water cylinders can also result in failure.
  • Make sure you know where your main water stopcock or shut-off valve is located and ensure that it is operational. Experts advise turning your stopcock off and then on once every six months to prevent it seizing up. If it is feasible consider turning the stopcock off when you are going away on holiday or leaving the property unoccupied for any significant period of time.
  • If you are away from home during the winter ask a friend or neighbour to check your property regularly.
  • Ensure that water pipes are lagged correctly in order to minimise the risk of bursting or cracking during unexpected cold spells of weather. 

Additional actions:

  • If you replace a bathroom, kitchen or have other renovations, replace all pipework where possible so all works are new and not just a facelift. Often we find that old pipework is not replaced at the same time and is unable to cope with increased water pressure.
  • If you are away from home during the winter take appropriate precautions. Ideally drain the system, but if that is impractical set the heating system to keep the temperature in your home above freezing. 
  • Consider installing one of the many devices on the market that can help provide protection against water damage. They include pressure regulation valves, passive leak detectors, water flow sensors and more sophisticated active leak management systems which can shut off a leak when it is detected. A water leak detection alarm system, which costs £450, is attached to the pipework and shuts off the water supply if it detects a leak. They are available from hardware stores, and your usual plumber should be able to help with a survey and risk assessment and can provide advice on appropriate products. 

There are no guarantees against an escape of water, but checking your home and taking action, could save your home and contents.