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  • External water leak – home insurance?
  • Premier Icon chrishc777
    Free Member

    So I’ve got some water coming out of my front garden wall onto the pavement, just a trickle but constant. It’s actually coming out between both mine and my adjoined neighbour’s wall but if I want it sorted I’m going to have to get the ball rolling

    I’ve had the water company out who as I expected said the leak is on my/my neighbour’s property so not their problem

    I have home insurance but have never used it so what should I expect? Do I just call them and they send someone out or do I have to sort it then claim my money back from them? Obviously they can give me this info and I’ll be calling them later this morning but my experience with insurers is that it’s good to know what to expect before calling

    Not even sure who to call if the insurer tells me to deal with it, I guess a standard plumber won’t have the equipment to start digging pavements and gardens up. And no idea what the cost of this will be, if there’s a chance I end up paying for it

    Just to make it a bit more interesting my neighbour has heard from an old bloke down the road that before either me or he moved in there was a tree in my front garden, which when removed burst a pipe. This must have been at least 5-6 years ago and is purely anecdotal so I’m not sure that really means anything, but in his eyes that makes it my problem. I could get into an argument with the guy but he’s a complete tool and lately we’ve been ‘getting on’ (read: I’ve been ignoring his bullshit and nodding at his reptilian vaccine plot theories) so I don’t want to cause an issue if I can help it, especially as I have insurance so in theory it shouldn’t cost me anything

    Anyway, any advice or previous experiences appreciated

    Premier Icon dpfr
    Full Member

    Depends on the origin of the leak. We had something very similar. The origin was a sewer from a couple of upslope properties which had broken but the water was leaking out of our wall.

    There was lots of humming an ha-ing between the local authority and United Utilities while they sorted it out but in the end UU fixed it once the origin of the problem was clear. Part of the problem for us was the lack of records on the drainage layout so I’d expect to start by getting someone to shove cameras up drains. Then you get all sorts of silliness becase a contractor you engage won’t touch water company infrastructure……

    Good luck!

    Premier Icon big_n_daft
    Free Member

    Check the water companies website, many do free external repair

    Is it your or a shared supply? Is there a footpath stoptap? Turn it off to prove the leak and who it feeds

    Where is your water meter if you have one?

    Premier Icon hooli
    Free Member

    Can you dig a bit of soil out yourself to see where the leak is coming from? If you can work that out it should make any conversations with the water company or a plumber a lot easier. Wouldn’t hurt to ring the insurance too, they will tell you what to do if you are covered.

    Premier Icon ads678
    Full Member

    The council drainage dept will survey the drain and let you if there’s a leak and who’s responsibility it is. Assuming it is actually from a sewer, could be mains water. Get onto the council first. Then if it is mains water, is it before or after you water meter, if you have one. If you haven’t it should be the water authorities problem before it comes into your house. I think….

    I’d be going down those routes to determine the fault first before insurance though.

    Premier Icon fazzini
    Full Member

    Home insurance will often cover ‘Trace and Access’ as part of buildings cover for investigating where water is escaping from. You may also be covered for the ‘pipe’, if it is that, under buildings cover (varies form insurer to insurer) but there could also be an exclusion if this is not a sudden event but something that has occurred over time. Check your policy cover, give them a ring, and do the above too – deffo check out if your water company’s site to see if they do free repairs.

    Premier Icon chrishc777
    Free Member

    Sounds like my hopes of ringing the insurance and getting it sorted may have been optimistic then 😀

    It is coming more from my neighbour’s end but I’m upslope form him so it does actually seem it may be from me or even someone higher up

    Good idea switching off the stopcock in the road and seeing if it stops, my water meter itself is in my kitchen so it’s the water company’s side but at the same time on private property. I was out yesterday when they came round but what the mrs referred was that they thoroughly washed their hands of it so they aren’t going to do me a free repair it seems

    Didn’t realise the council were a port of call for this, I’ll try them as well

    As for digging up a bit of soil the footpath stopcock is about 6ft below my garden so that’s alot of dirt to remove!

    Premier Icon big_n_daft
    Free Member

    The council drainage dept will survey the drain and let you if there’s a leak and who’s responsibility it is. Assuming it is actually from a sewer, could be mains water.

    He’s been told it’s a water leak by the water co

    Get onto the council first.

    Don’t, prove its not water by turning off the external stoptap first

    Plus in E&W it’s a Water company responsibility

    Then if it is mains water, is it before or after you water meter, if you have one. If you haven’t it should be the water authorities problem before it comes into your house. I think….

    In E&W If it’s on your property it’s your problem. The water company can serve a notice to repair and then do it themselves and recharge if you don’t. As stated above many offer a free first external repair service.

    First thing to do is work out whose supply has the leak

    Premier Icon big_n_daft
    Free Member

    Good idea switching off the stopcock in the road and seeing if it stops, my water meter itself is in my kitchen so it’s the water company’s side but at the same time on private property. I was out yesterday when they came round but what the mrs referred was that they thoroughly washed their hands of it so they aren’t going to do me a free repair it seems

    They will be contractors, check the website

    Didn’t realise the council were a port of call for this, I’ll try them as well

    They aren’t if you are in E&W

    Premier Icon big_n_daft
    Free Member

    Which area, what water company?

    Premier Icon chrishc777
    Free Member

    Which area, what water company?

    England, Isle of Wight, Southern Water

    I’ve just read my home insurance wording and it says I need to notify them of claims or potential claims within 30 days so I’ll still get onto them even just to notify. I did use a local broker so hopefully they will be helpful

    Premier Icon sadexpunk
    Full Member

    we recently had a leak under our driveway, regular home insurance didnt cover it, i was told they generally dont unless its one of those ‘add-ons’ that you sometimes get with your policy.

    luckily anglian water had offered us a HomeServe’ policy for an introductory 50p a month a few months back which we took up (we wouldnt ordinarily have done so at the full £30 per month cost). it saved us thousands in the end as we had to have the drive dug up 3 times in the end.

    we’ve now ensured we carried the policy on!

    Premier Icon big_n_daft
    Free Member

    Finding a leak – Where water is not obviously leaking above the ground, we offer up to one hour’s free leak detection work. Our equipment is very effective but we cannot guarantee to find the source of the leak. We will ensure that we tell you the results of our detection work.

    Repairing a leak – we recommend you contract a reputable plumber or ground worker to make repairs. Using a WRAS approved plumber means you can be assured a standard of workmanship and materials. If you decide to undertake repairs yourself we can offer advice on types of fittings and where to source them, more information is available here.

    We will offer assistance for customers who are on our social tariffs, on our special needs register or on certain means tested benefits. The exact help will be determined by the length and position of the supply pipe, please call us on 0330 303 0277.

    Or

    https://www.southernwater.co.uk/help-advice/homeserve

    Be careful as you already know about the leak and it may not cover such issues

    Premier Icon chrishc777
    Free Member

    Be careful as you already know about the leak and it may not cover such issues

    Yeah bit late for that one, since I’ve reported it to them!

    My home insurance states it covers burst pipes and leaks and gives no exclusion for whether it’s indoors or outdoors so in theory I should be good. In practice we’ll see!

    The water company are coming for some kind of test next week following some work done down the road a couple weeks ago so I’ll try to probe them then, even if it’s just to recommend a good contractor to call

    Seems the most important thing is to turn my water off and see if it stops. I’ll do that overnight tonight as I guess the water isn’t going to just immediately stop when I switch it off even if it is coming from me

    Premier Icon ads678
    Full Member

    The council drainage dept will survey the drain and let you if there’s a leak and who’s responsibility it is. Assuming it is actually from a sewer, could be mains water.

    He’s been told it’s a water leak by the water co

    Get onto the council first.

    Don’t, prove its not water by turning off the external stoptap first

    Plus in E&W it’s a Water company responsibility

    Then if it is mains water, is it before or after you water meter, if you have one. If you haven’t it should be the water authorities problem before it comes into your house. I think….

    In E&W If it’s on your property it’s your problem. The water company can serve a notice to repair and then do it themselves and recharge if you don’t. As stated above many offer a free first external repair service.

    First thing to do is work out whose supply has the leak

    Christ, I was only trying to be helpful. Guess I’m wrong about he mains water bit, but the OP didn’t say that the water compnaany had actually traced the origin of the water/leak. I’d want to know where it was coiming from before I started using my own insurance, if it was a neighbours issue.

    When I used to work for a council drainage department, we used to send a team out to investigate sewer blockages/leaks and then instruct the homeowner/tennant on who’s respsibility it was to get it fixed, or inform the water authority if it was something they needed to deal with. I was only giving this as an option as it semed from the OP that the water company hadn’t actually done any drain tracing or leak detection.

    Premier Icon chrishc777
    Free Member

    I was only giving this as an option as it seemed from the OP that the water company hadn’t actually done any drain tracing or leak detection.

    They haven’t. Basically they looked, saw it wasn’t coming out from under the public footpath and said “not our problem”. No idea whether it’s me or another house other than assumption that it’ll be running downhill

    Premier Icon big_n_daft
    Free Member

    Seems the most important thing is to turn my water off and see if it stops. I’ll do that overnight tonight as I guess the water isn’t going to just immediately stop when I switch it off even if it is coming from me

    It will stop/slow quite quickly in most cases, overnight would be definitive if if didn’t rain. You may “feel”/hear the water rushing past the stoptap when it’s nearly closed

    Premier Icon big_n_daft
    Free Member

    They haven’t. Basically they looked, saw it wasn’t coming out from under the public footpath and said “not our problem”. No idea whether it’s me or another house other than assumption that it’ll be running downhill

    Jokers

    They should have done a check to confirm the supply affected. That way they can follow up. Would have taken 10 mins.

    I’d write and complain that they didn’t do this

    Premier Icon chrishc777
    Free Member

    It will stop/slow quite quickly in most cases, overnight would be definitive if if didn’t rain. You may “feel”/hear the water rushing past the stoptap when it’s nearly closed

    Great, thanks!

    Jokers

    They should have done a check to confirm the supply affected. That way they can follow up. Would have taken 10 mins.

    I’d write and complain that they didn’t do this

    Luckily thanks to the wisdom of STW I can conduct that test myself!

    Premier Icon chrishc777
    Free Member

    So I just nipped home to have a look and on opening the stoptap cover I’ve found they have installed an additional meter. I already have one in my kitchen

    It definitely wasn’t there a couple months ago as I shut the water off to replace my internal stopcock as it was leaking

    In a way this is good as I can see the external new meter is spinning while my internal one isn’t. So the leak is from my supply somewhere. Does seem a bit weird that they’d install an extra meter though, surely they could have determined the leak was on my supply just by turning it off?

    Either way I have an appointment with them Wednesday so I guess they’ll give me advice there, and I’ll hold off speaking to the insurance until then as I’ll still be in the 30 days to report the claim

    Premier Icon Rich_s
    Full Member

    Big n Daft has already said it, but just to be clear household insurance covers damage to pipes under your property – in other words from the boundary of your home inwards. The meter has nothing to do with it.

    UU website for reference
    https://www.unitedutilities.com/help-and-support/your-water-supply/your-pipes/water-supply-pipes/

    Premier Icon sharkbait
    Free Member

    Does seem a bit weird that they’d install an extra meter though, surely they could have determined the leak was on my supply just by turning it off?

    Whatever the reason, the extra meter shows immediately if the water is still flowing after your stop tap is shut.

    Premier Icon neilnevill
    Free Member

    Usually if there isn’t a meter it’s the water company responsibility up to the stop cock in the house, but they’ve all shifted stance a while back and you’ll have to argue for anything on your land.

    If you’ve a stop cock outside on the pavement, before where the leak maybe, it’s easy to confirm you do or don’t have one. Shut that cock off, then inside the house at the stop cock there, undo the compression joint and separate the pipe. If there is a leak you’ll see the water in the supply pipe drop, if it doesn’t, it’s not leaking and the problem is elsewhere.

    Depending on what the finish is in the garden and how big, you could find the leak with a bit of spade work, the pipe won’t be that deep, 0.5-1m. I’d start by the wall where it appears, although lots of house insurance has ‘track and trace’ to locate leaks even if they don’t cover repair of the leak so you may wish to check.

    Repair is just plumbing, it’s diy-able, but depending on the type of pipe (old lead,v plastic, or copper, or…) It could be really simple, or a bit involved.

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Full Member

    We had a water leak under the house, I traced it (well took up the floorboards and had a look) to an old Victorian main which our water company had no knowledge of and was leaking under our floorboards! Took a bit of convincing but in the end they fixed it all for free. Their records are patchy at best, they basically don’t know where half their pipes are….

    Repair is just plumbing, it’s diy-able, but depending on the type of pipe (old lead,v plastic, or copper, or…) It could be really simple, or a bit involved.

    If it’s mains pressure and anything over 15 mm in diameter you really don’t want to try and fix it without cutting off the supply. With our water main leak they shut down all our street, the neighbouring streets and part of the local high street as they wouldn’t touch it ‘live’ as the flow rate was too high to try and cap (plus they didn’t know where it connected into the network).

    Premier Icon neilnevill
    Free Member

    Fair point, I’m assuming it’s half inch as most house supplies are, and was thinking it would have a stop cock at the pavement anyway.

    Premier Icon big_n_daft
    Free Member

    In a way this is good as I can see the external new meter is spinning while my internal one isn’t. So the leak is from my supply somewhere. Does seem a bit weird that they’d install an extra meter though, surely they could have determined the leak was on my supply just by turning it off?

    Turn the supply off at the new meter and confirm it supplies you and you alone.

    The meter install is suspicious, they may try and move your billing point to the boundary and charge for the lost water.

    Premier Icon big_n_daft
    Free Member

    If it’s mains pressure and anything over 15 mm in diameter you really don’t want to try and fix it without cutting off the supply.

    You can get squeeze off tools that provide sufficient isolation for a repair. Not needed as he has a new meter and can turn off the supply there

    Premier Icon footflaps
    Full Member

    Not needed as he has a new meter and can turn off the supply there

    Assuming it is his supply leaking…

    E.g. in our case it was a mains pipe leaking, completely seperate to our supply.

    Premier Icon chrishc777
    Free Member

    Had the water company guy out today. He was extremely helpful and has left me somewhat reassured

    Basically it’s the supply for me and 4 neighbours down the hill that runs under my house that’s leaking. Basically anyone whose supply is affected is ‘liable’. Which is great, we split the cost 5 ways, but it also means getting everyone to agree that the leak under my house is their problem…. It could be that my supply is not directly affected which means strangely it’s not my problem

    He explained that if we can’t sort it between us they will take anyone not playing ball to court so hopefully relaying that info will do it but we’ll see. He also explained that finding the leak will cost a few hundred £ from a private contractor, so worse case I could pay that and at least then have some evidence for who’s liable when they come knocking again and get myself off the hook

    House insurance were very friendly and helpful but the woman on the phone said she will get a ‘loss adjuster’ who knows these cases to call me tomorrow. Not dealt with one of those before, Googling it gives all kinds of answers from assessor to ‘person who gets the insurer out of paying anything’ so I guess I’ll find out!

    Good to get some progress, I was starting to get really worried about huge repair bills and having to sell the house to pay for them 🙁

    Premier Icon big_n_daft
    Free Member

    Basically it’s the supply for me and 4 neighbours down the hill that runs under my house that’s leaking.

    Known as a common supply pipe

    Joint liability applies to those served by the leaking section, getting them to agree to pay for it a different matter.

    I would get someone to dig down and put a stoptap on it after it supplies you. If the leak is past that it isn’t your liability

    Premier Icon chrishc777
    Free Member

    Yep at any sign of neighbours not playing ball that’s probably what I’ll do, depending on what the leakfinding quotes come in at

    To be fair if a neighbour I’d not interacted with before came knocking saying I need to pay to sort a leak under his house I would be a little skeptical, I’ll make sure I pick my wording carefully 🙂

    Premier Icon dangeourbrain
    Full Member

    Had the water company guy out today. He was extremely helpful and has left me somewhat reassured

    Basically it’s the supply for me and 4 neighbours down the hill that runs under my house that’s leaking. Basically anyone whose supply is affected is ‘liable’. Which is great, we split the cost 5 ways, but it also means getting everyone to agree that the leak under my house is their problem…

    If my own experience is anything to go by you should get a strongly worded letter from the water Co over the next few days to each house basically saying you’ve got 15 days iirc to fix it before they come along and do it for you at significant expense then bill you all.

    That said, Yorkshire water will fix once every four years I think foc.

    Premier Icon Rich_s
    Full Member

    House insurance were very friendly and helpful but the woman on the phone said she will get a ‘loss adjuster’ who knows these cases to call me tomorrow. Not dealt with one of those before, Googling it gives all kinds of answers from assessor to ‘person who gets the insurer out of paying anything’ so I guess I’ll find out!

    Loss Adjusters are (meant to be) independent and paid by the insurer. They are there to investigate, authorise and settle (potentially) claims. Or reject them! Some people will have less favourable versions of that story.

    Loss Assessors are employed by you (the claimant) to represent you in the claim “against” the insurer. They usually earn their fee by increasing the amount you’re claiming for.

    I doubt in this case an Assessor will be useful to you. Hope that clarification helps.

    Premier Icon poolman
    Free Member

    Me and my neighbour had similar leaks on supply between meter and house. It was cheaper to fix it myself, my neighbours insurer settled for half her claim, however contractors working for insurers charge treble.

    Premier Icon big_n_daft
    Free Member

    I’d also ask the neighbours whether anyone has details of the system. Half the battle for detecting leaks is knowing where the pipe goes.

    Consider relaying it if it’s problematic

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