What to do after a mains water leak

26th Jun 2017 | |

A leaking pipe in a domestic property can cause a huge amount of long-lasting damage if it isn’t detected and dealt with swiftly. The amount of water that can escape in a short period of time can often be hard to deal with, especially when the leak is under flooring.

We have recently dealt with a few leaks from mains water pipes. Most were under the floor structure and dealing with them required different solutions. Two of the examples involved burst lead pipes under a solid concrete floor, while the other was a stopcock leak under a suspended timber floor in a Victorian terraced house.

How to tell if your water supply pipe is leaking

There are usually warning signs to look out for which suggest you may have a leak at your home. Low water pressure and flow rates, as well as damp patches in your hour home or particularly noisy pipes all, point to there being a problem.

If you suspect that water is escaping from your supply pipe there are a few simple ways to check for leaks.

  • Locate your stop tap (you may have an internal stop tap that will be located where your supply pipe enters your home) and turn off the water supply.
  • Turn off any appliances such as washing machines which bring water to them
  • Find your water meter and take a reading. If you can see that your reading is still increasing then investigate whether there are other appliances in your home still taking in water.
  • Wait for a period of around an hour and then take your meter reading again. If you find that the reading has continued to increase this is a clear sign that you may have a mains water leak.

If you live in a rented property and don’t own the supply pipe, it is likely still in your contract that you are responsible for stopping the leak to prevent unnecessary damage. Your landlord should contact an approved plumber to resolve the leak immediately and seek out efficient drying solutions. If you are a homeowner check your insurance policy to see if you are covered for repairs to your supply pipes.

Steps to take as soon as you discover a water leak

When you discover a mains water pipe leak we’d suggest the following steps:

  1. Turn off the stopcock tap on the rising main inside your property
  2. If it’s not possible to turn off the stopcock within the property, or if the leak is closer to the flow than this tap, then it may be necessary to turn off the stopcock outside the boundary of your property, which is along the service pipe running between the water main (in the street) and the supply pipe within the property;
  3. Turn off any electrical supply that may be near the area of the flood, to prevent electric shocks
  4. As with all leaks, clear away as much of the surface water as possible, to prevent the spread of water and further damage of building materials. Mops, towels, buckets, wet vacuums – all essential items to have close at hand. Sanitising may be required particularly if dirty water has run in from outside
  5. Contact a professional plumber to repair the leak. Accessing the leak may require opening access into walls or floors and this makes reporting the leak to a professional vital
  6. Speeding up the drying should be considered; we hire a huge range of dehumidifiers, fans, heaters and other drying equipment and accessories. First, however, it may be necessary to undertake some preparation work. If water is trapped below floor coverings then these may need to be removed. Or if water has flowed into plasterboard stud walls these may need to be opened so that dry air can circulate inside the void
  7. Drying equipment can be set up so that dry air is circulated around the affected area; over floors and into wall voids

Contact us for further advice on how to assess the spread of water, the extent of dampness and how to dry out your property after a water mains leak.