Escape of Water and Fluid Leakage 

ImageThe Association of British Insurers (ABI) estimate that in the UK, their member companies pay out around £2.5m per day in claims, relating to the escape of water, representing around 20% of all commercial and domestic claims. 

Understanding and assessing your exposure to water/ fluid leak and damage, and implementing an effective risk management approach to help reduce the risk is highly important.     

1. Prevent and Control

Infrastructure Protection

  • Adequate regimes should be in place to ensure all water/ fluid services are inspected and maintained. All identified defects should be assessed and rectified as soon as possible.
  • Ensure the main incoming water mains stop valve, all internal stop cock/ isolation valves and drain line valves are:
  • Readily accessible
  • Clearly labelled
  • Regularly exercised and maintained to ensure they operate correctly
  • All occupiers of a building, and maintenance contractors should be made aware of their location, including any isolation valves to upper floors or within tenanted areas.
  • Ensure any copper pipes embedded in concrete are fitted with protected sleeves to prevent corrosion


2. Protect in Winter / Cold Weather


  • Ensure exposed pipework within unheated buildings / areas, loft areas and outside are adequately protected against cold temperatures – attention should be given to the potential for ‘wind chill.’ Electrical trace heating and / or lagging should be installed for exposed pipework.
  • Adequate heat (minimum temperature of 5°C) should be maintained during cold weather. Consider leaving loft hatches open to provide adequate ventilation.
  • Beware of the risk of ice forming on guttering which may prevent escape of water and lead to water ingress into loft areas, buildings at the eaves.
  • Ensure sprinkler pipes, valves and water storage tanks etc. are adequately protected against freezing. Sprinkler contractors should requested to inspect insulation and trace heating prior to the onset of winter and appropriate precautions undertaken


3. Implement Operational Controls


  • Avoid the practice of disposal of oil and fats into the drains which can lead to blockage. Clean grease traps regularly.
  • Ensure that no air conditioning condensate pipework is contained within the high risk areas, such as electrical risers or IT rooms.
  • Ensure, where possible, that all electrical and mechanical risers are kept segregated to prevent damage to electrical equipment occurring in the event of a leak.
  • Avoid siting high risk equipment below fluid carrying networks or storage tanks.
  • Ensure all electrical equipment, and any stored goods which are susceptible to water ingress, are raised at least 100mm from the floor.


4. Periods of Unoccupancy


  • Install water flow detection
  • Isolate equipment
  • Drain down systems
  • Document site inspections


Note: If a prolonged period of occupancy is planned, notify Canfield Payne Insurance Consultants Ltd.


5. Immediate Post Escape of Water Actions – Emergency Response


Where safe to do so, the following measures are recommended:

  • Turn off the water supply to the building or part(s) of the building that is involved.
  • Contact emergency contractors who can respond to the incident.
  • Isolate the electrical supply to the affected areas but do not touch any electrical equipment which has become wet.
  • Turn off heating and hot water systems.
  • Drain systems that hold water, including any storage tanks to safe locations.
  • Alert occupants of neighbouring areas / properties if they may be affected, especially those on floors below.
  • If water starts to seep through ceilings, place a bucket below the leak, and if necessary and only if safe to do so, pierce any areas holding water with a broom handle or similar to release the water to prevent ceiling collapse.
  • If pipes have frozen, defrost them slowly and with hot water bottles or warm air blowers – do not use naked flames such as blow torches.
  • Doors and loft hatches should be left open to allow warm air to circulate to upper floors and within loft areas.
  • If necessary, move any high risk items that could be impacted to a safe and secure area.
  • Notify your landlord, managing agent or anyone else who is responsible for the building.
  • Notify Canfield Payne Insurance Consultants Ltd. or your insurance intermediary as soon as possible.