News: Washing machines do most water damage to homes

It doesn’t take much effort to check for leaking home appliances - and the rewards in terms of removing cost and stress are well worth the small amount of time taken to run through the tips given below by one insurer.  

During the past five years leaking water from washing machines, dishwashers, burst water tanks, pipes, showers and baths have left the homes of nearly 17 million Britons in disarray - some 3.3 million households per year.

The two biggest culprits for causing water damage in the home are washing machines, which account for damage to more than 5.2 million households (14%) and showers (10%). Burst pipes, leaking baths and ‘human error’ account for 7% of leaks each.

Indeed Britons inflict an avoidable £130 million worth of damage each year on themselves simply by forgetting to turn off taps - wasting some 630,137 litres of water every day.  The water damaging properties as a result of taps left on could be used to fill a staggering 7,876 baths or flush 84,018 toilets.  

Leaking dishwashers caused 3% of damage followed by burst hot tanks and cold tanks with 2% each. 

In response to the research findings Halifax Home Insurance is urging homeowners to ensure that they regularly check their fixed wet appliances and pipe work for any leaks, and to make sure they always turn taps off after use. Lagging pipes also helps to prevent unexpected bursts from frost damage, as can ensuring that central heating is not left off for any length of time during cold spells.

The insurer is also warning the one-in-three homeowners in Britain that do not have buildings insurance that water damage can be costly to put right, at an average cost of £560 per incident. 60,000 Britons face bills in excess of £10,000 each year.

Vicky Emmott, senior underwriter at Halifax Home Insurance, said, “Changing fashions in the housing market have increased the likelihood of homes being damaged by leaking water.   The trend for homes with multiple bathrooms and the current vogue for wet rooms have significantly increased the risk of water leaks and damage in the home.” 

Older properties are vulnerable as a result of corroding pipes, and this will only get worse with time. Cold winters and hot summers stress the aging pipe work and cause fractures.

Long working hours in the UK would account for many leaks going undetected for a significant period of time,” Vicky Emmott added.

Halifax Home Insurance offers the following advice:

  • Prevention is always better than the cure.  Regularly check your pipes and appliances to spot any potential weak spots.
  • Always ensure taps are turned off after use – but avoid over tightening which can weaken washers and cause leaks.
  • Ensure pipes are well lagged to prevent them from frost damage.
  • Don’t leave your central heating off for any length of time during winter. If planning a holiday use a timer switch to make sure the heating is on during colder periods of the day.
  • Always go with a reputable tradesman. Each year Halifax Home Insurance receives thousands of claims for botched DIY jobs and work done by rogue traders. Similarly don’t carry out plumbing jobs yourself unless you are qualified plumber.
  • Customers with a water meter should be especially careful about ensuring taps are not left running unnecessarily, because they are literally pouring money down the drain. 

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