How to recognise common types of water leaks

There are many types of water leaks of all which can have a devastating effect on a property. Burst pipes, leaking water pipes and poorly fitted appliances all have the capacity to cause damage to your home and personal possessions.

Not to mention the associated health risks posed by damp and mould that can quickly take hold if left untreated.

Leaking Pipes or Burst Pipe

A burst pipe can flood a house in minutes. Whereas a slow releasing leak in a water pipe or water tank can go undetected for months, even years, causing extensive damage to your home.

Even more problematic is when a leak causes damage to an adjoining property, such as water seeping through the floor and affecting the ceiling of the flat below.

If you start to notice any of the following signs of a leak it’s important to catch and deal with it early to prevent further damage. Not only to what you can see but what might also be hidden in walls or under flooring.

Signs of a leaking pipe

The signs of a burst pipe are fairly instantaneous and obvious, whereas a pinhole leak in a water pipe is less easy to catch early on. It’s usually not until the damage has been caused that you’ll start to notice the problem.

Look out for:

1. Damage to ceilings and walls:

  • Bowed or misshapen panels are a sure sign that the plasterboard is full of moisture.
  • Mould growing on the plasterboard.
  • Wall paper bubbling or edges lifting indicate that the plasterboard is wet and needs replacing

2. Water pressure falling in your home.

3. An increase in water usage on your meter/bill.

Poorly Fitted Dishwasher or Washing Machine

An incorrectly installed washing machine or dishwasher may cause water to escape and damage the surrounding area.

In our experience this is generally caused by feed pipes that have not been fitted correctly. This is usually due to the level of tension required, too lose and the pipe will leak, too tight and the pipe will leak.

Signs of a leaking appliance

1. Water pools developing on vinyl flooring.

2. Water marks and/or salt marks on adjacent walls or indeed rooms.

3. Laminate or real wood flooring buckling or warping.

Shower Leak

Water leaking from a shower can be due to any number of reasons. Leaking water pipes, drainage pipes or waste trap, or failed seals around tiles, shower doors and shower trays. All are common causes of water escaping the area and causing signs of damage to appear on surrounding walls and ceilings.

Signs of a leaking shower

1. Mildew or mould appearing on non-shower walls or in corners of the bathroom.

2. Blistering paint or wallpaper.

3. Loose tiling around the shower cubicle.

4. Buckling, cracking or stained flooring.

5. Water stains, sagging, cracks or water drips appearing on ceilings underneath the shower.

6. A musty earthy smell from hidden water that is unable to dry out.

Frozen Pipes

Both internal and external pipes are susceptible to freezing in very cold conditions, which in turn can lead them to them bursting and causing significant damage to your home. Normally water held in a pipe causes no problems. But when it freezes this water expands and exerts a serious amount of pressure per square inch. Enough to rupture a pipe and allow water to flood unchecked into your property.

Unfortunately the damage caused by frozen pipes tends to occur when a property is vacant for long periods over a cold spell, where owners are unable to take remedial action to prevent pipes most at risk from rupturing.

Take action to prevent pipes from freezing

Whether you are going on holiday or responsible for a vacant property, a few simple steps will help prevent your pipes from freezing and the disruption and distress of a flooded home.

1. Keep heating on low.

2. Run cold taps regularly.

3. Drain your outside tap where possible.

4. Or ask a professional plumber to fully drain your water system and all of its components.

It’s important to remember that insulating or lagging pipes acts only as a barrier to the cold but WILL NOT prevent them freezing if they remain unheated.

If your pipes do freeze it’s important to switch the stop-cock off straight away. This will prevent water escaping unchecked if a pipe does rupture. If possible the best course of action is to allow the pipes to warm up naturally.

If you have been unfortunate enough to recognise any of the above signs of water damage and require help please feel free to get in touch.

Call us on 0800 328 4188 we are here to help you.

Tangible Building Solutions are independent builders whose BDMA (British Damage Management Association) Technicians hold much experience in carrying out high quality flood and water damage restoration work. We can help you through the process of making your insurance claim and ensure you receive the high standard of reinstatement work you deserve.

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Thames Valley

Suite 220, SK House, Vansittart Estate, Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 1SE.


Suite 220, SK House, Vansittart Estate, Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 1SE.

Jane Smith

Regional Director at Thames Valley Office

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