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How to prevent plumbing leaks

Plumbing leaks can be expensive, not to mention an inconvenience. Turning your water supply off at the stopcock is the best way to prevent a leak from seriously damaging your home. It’s also good to have emergency home cover so you can limit repair costs and get expert help right away.

But do you know what’s even better? Preventing plumbing leaks from happening in the first place. Prevention is always better than cure!

Here we’ll talk you through several ways you can prevent plumbing leaks in your home…

Have your boiler serviced regularly

Boiler leaking problems are common, particularly in older models that have not been regularly serviced. Boiler dripping may not seem like a big emergency but it can end up costing you a significant amount in wasted water. Not to mention, on-going boiler leaking can compromise your machine’s internal components. If you leave it too long, repairs may not be an option and you’ll end up having to fork out for a new machine.

The best way to prevent your boiler leaking is to have it regularly serviced by a Gas Safe registered engineer. This will allow any underlying problems to be identified before they get serious (and more expensive!)

Some home cover policies include an annual boiler service, so be sure to take advantage of it. If you don’t, you may find that it renders your policy or even your boiler warranty invalid.

Check your water pressure

Another easy way to prevent leakage from your water pipes is to regularly check the water pressure. Obviously, you can’t have it too low, as you won’t be able to wash the dinner dishes or enjoy a hot shower but at the same time, if it’s too high it can put a strain on your water pipes.

High water pressure can seriously reduce the life expectancy of all your plumbing components, including the valves and joints, where leakages are most likely.

If you notice an overly powerful spurt of water when you run your cold tap, the pressure may be a little high. You can try turning the stop tap down a little to see if it makes a difference. In some cases, you may need a plumber to install a pressure-reducing valve in your home.

Insulate your pipes

Here in the UK, it can get pretty chilly in the winter, with temperatures dropping below zero for weeks on end. It’s important to remember that when temperatures outside fall below zero, any water in your outside drain pipes will freeze. When water freezes it expands, which can put a strain on your plumbing system and cause it to crack.

Drain pipe lagging is the best way to insulate your plumbing system and prevent leaks in the winter. You can attempt drain pipe lagging yourself, however, it can be a bit of a tricky process. It’s much more time-efficient to hire a contractor to do it for you.

Drain pipe lagging will not only prevent plumbing leaks but also help you save on energy costs. It’s definitely a worthwhile preventative measure to invest in.

Wondering about gas pipe insulation? It’s not a common practice as unlike with water pipes, freezing and expansion is unlikely.

Understand the location of your pipes

You’d be surprised at how many calls we get from people who have accidentally drilled through central heating pipe work in their homes and caused a massive leak.

Doing DIY work when you don’t know the location of the pipes in your home is always going to carry risks. Thankfully, drilling through a water pipe isn’t as dangerous as drilling through an electric cable but it can potentially cause a lot of damage to your home.

Our advice is to buy a stud sensor. This will beep when it scans over a cable or pipe in a wall. Use a pencil to mark where they are located and avoid contact.

How to identify a plumbing leak in your home

If a pipe bursts in your home, it’ll be immediately obvious by the amount of water pooling out of it but some leaks are less obvious e.g. boiler leaking.

With this in mind, we recommend carrying out regular checks on your plumbing system to spot any potential weaknesses. Inspect your taps, around your toilet pipe wall cover and under your sink. If there are any signs of water or funny smells coming from the pipework, there could potentially be a blockage. Spotting and fixing it early will prevent leakage and save you a lot of time and money.

What to do if you find a leak?

If there’s a leak in your home, acting quickly can be the difference between having to mop up a pool of water and paying out thousands of pounds in repairs to your home.

1. Shut off the water
Attempt to shut off the water at the nearest valve to the leaking pipe. If you can’t find a shut-off valve, you will need to turn off your water supply at the stopcock instead. This should be located under your kitchen sink.

2. Take the strain off the pipe
Once you’ve turned off the water, you need to try and get the pressure down as much as possible. Turn on all the taps that are served by the leaking pipe. This will drain out any leftover water. If the taps don’t appear to be draining the pipe, you will need to look for a bleed valve instead.

Next, grab a cloth and tie it tightly around the pipe at the source of the leak. This will help to minimise water damage in your home but will only last a short while.

3. Call a plumber
Your next best course of action is to ring a plumber and arrange an emergency call-out. If you have an emergency home cover policy, ring your insurance provider to make a claim. They will send out a plumber to complete your repairs, with the cost covered by your policy.

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