A water leak inside or outside of your property is never a nice event and, potentially, can be very costly. The damage caused by a leak can be very expensive if it damages carpets, furniture or electrical goods. Good home insurance will cover you for this damage and is always important but there are other cost implications you need to consider as a homeowner in the event of a leak.
With over half of UK homes having a water meter installed and all new homes required to have one fitted there are even more cost implications in getting a leak fixed fast. If you don’t get the leak fixed quickly you could quite literally be pouring money away.
How do I tell if I have a water leak?
Most leaks within your property are going to be easy to spot, pipes can burst with age or cold, toilets can start leaking into themselves and radiators can be broken. Hopefully you catch the leak before it causes too much water damage.
For metered customers, more subtle leaks may only manifest themselves when it is bill time. If you see your bill leap up and you haven't been perma-watering your marigolds or filling up your paddling pool every sunny day then chances are you've got a leak somewhere. You'll need to enlist the help of a plumber to find the leak and get it repaired.
Water companies do proactively detect for major leaks themselves; this is normally done at night when they have a general idea of what the expected water usage rate will be in any one given area. If they see an unexpected rise in water usage then water leakage detecting technicians are sent out to find the leak. If they can't find a leak out in their own external pipes and they believe the leak comes from within your property then the water company can contact you to advise you to get it fixed. If you do not get the work done yourself, they may do the work for you and charge you for it.
What do I do if I have a leak in my property?
For a leak inside your property like a burst radiator pipe, leaky faucet or broken toilet then you are going to have to call a plumber, or if you are insured, you should check if your policy covers leaks then call your insurance company to see what they can do. You should shut off the appliance if possible or shut the water off altogether to avoid unnecessary water charges.
I think I have a burst pipe outside my house, who is going to fix it?
If the leak is on the pipe underground supplying water to your house then you are still responsible for the repair work. You will need to have a contractor find where the leak is and get it fixed. Again, if you are insured you should check with your insurance company to see how they can assist. You should also speak to your local water company about the leak who themselves may be able to help you contact a contractor to fix the pipe. If your water supply pipe is not repaired within a certain timeframe (typically 30 days) then your water company may repair it but then charge you for the work. Some water companies do offer a free of charge service or subsidised repair (typically on the first occurrence) so it is always a good idea to contact them.
The pipe outside my property boundary is leaking, what do I do?
A leak outside of your property boundary is not something you would need to have fixed yourself or are liable for but you should still contact your local water company to get them to fix it (particularly if you are without water!). Your local water company should have a 24-hour number.
Most of this article assumes you are the homeowner, if you are renting then the responsibility of repairing a leak falls to your landlord. Though for a leak within the boundary of your rented property but not inside the house it would still be a good idea to contact your water company straight away in case the landlord is less than helpful in getting the pipe fixed quickly. It is in your interest to get a leak fixed as soon as possible because, from the water company's perspective, you are still liable for the water bill.
Further information on your water bill, your water company's responsibilities and details of customer assistance can be found at https://www.ofwat.gov.uk/households