Can ‘PropTech’ help prevent your property leak?

In our latest guest blog from Aqualeak, a provider of flow and sensor-based water leak detection solutions, we investigate the growing problem surrounding water leaks and provide leak prevention tips to ensure you are ‘home and dry’.

For any homeowner, the prospect of major water damage to their property from a burst or leaking pipe is one that fills them with dread. There is the tangible cost – drying, structural restoration work, interior refurbishment and increased insurance premiums. Then there are the other, often more upsetting, intangible costs – the loss of precious, sentimental items, having to uproot and move families to alternative accommodation and the nagging uncertainty that it may happen again.

Many of these are also true of buy to let property owners. As any good landlord will know, they are ultimately responsible for footing the bill for faults that occur with structural pipework. They also have the pitfall of lost rental income should the property sit unoccupied as a result of a burst pipe or significant leak that results in the property being uninhabitable.

The problem for landlords is exacerbated by the extent to which they can look out for problems. Their ability to react to a leak is only as good as the diligence of their tenants and the speed at which they report it to their landlord or management company. Even the most careful of tenants may be unaware there is a problem in the property until a significant amount of damage has already been done.

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It is estimated that 43 per cent of UK homes have experienced a leak. The increasing complexity of plumbing systems, combined with ageing pipework in older properties, means that no home is immune from the threat of hidden leaks in boxed-in areas, behind walls or under floors. More extreme weather conditions have also led to an increase in frozen, burst pipes.

Data from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) suggests that the problem is growing. Between 2014 and 2016 alone, the cost of residential escape of water claims rose by 24 per cent and last year insurers paid out more than £650m to address water damage.  A recent study conducted by Hamilton Fraser Total Landlord Insurance analysing escape of water claims also found that in London these claims were typically clustered around the Thames, and in areas served by older Victorian plumbing. With this in mind, many landlords may be unaware of how their property infrastructure could leave them exposed to potential plumbing issues if it is not correctly monitored and maintained. Read more in “Victorian plumbing: a ticking time bomb for landlords?”

No matter whether a leak is large or small, the results can be equally catastrophic. It is estimated that a burst pipe can release enough water to fill 48 bath tubs. Meanwhile, a small leak can lose as much as 30 litres in a single day. The smallest of dripping taps can lead to major issues if left unresolved.

However, the vast majority of incidents are manageable, even avoidable, with the correct intervention in place. Now more than ever, landlords can take matters into their own hands and reduce the reliance on tenants to catch the issue in the most timely way.

The emergence of property technology, or ‘PropTech’ to give it its trendy title, is enabling landlords to keep a closer eye on the safety of their assets from afar. This is especially reassuring for landlords who don’t live in close proximity to their buy to let property. Cost-effective technology means property owners can now have peace of mind that if a sudden rush or unusually long flow of water occurs, the supply will be automatically isolated and shut off, significantly minimising the risk of damage.

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Internet connectivity has taken this to a new level. Smart devices allow landlords to be alerted by text or email when a suspected leak is detected, giving them the opportunity to address the problem as quickly as possible. They can even turn the water off remotely via an app. Smart meter technology also has the potential to let landlords monitor water consumption in real time to identify potential dripping taps or leaking tanks, as well as reducing water bills and unintended water wastage, helping to protect the environment.

A home is twice as likely to have a leak than it is to be victim of fire or theft. Yet smoke and burglar alarms are part of the furniture. So why take the risk of falling foul to costly and disruptive water damage. After all, prevention is much better than cure.

Aqualeak is delighted to offer Hamilton Fraser Total Landlord Insurance readers a special, limited time only, promotional offer on its residential leak detection and prevention systems. Receive 10 per cent off any purchase of Aqualeak’s AquaGuard or AquaSmart devices, both of which immediately shut off the water supply when a leak is detected. Just quote HamiltonFraser10 when placing your order by telephone on 01249 715 698 or email at sales@aqualeak.com to activate your discount. This offer is valid from 1 November 2019 to 31 January 2020 and can be applied on orders of multiple units. For further information on these products or this offer, please get in touch.   

Read more about how you can avoid burst pipes in your property.

About the author

Aqualeak

Aqualeak is a leading provider of flow and sensor-based water leak detection and prevention solutions. Our products and systems are installed across a wide range of property types, including residential, commercial and industrial, protecting them from costly and disruptive water damage that can occur from burst and faulty pipework.

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