Water damage is one of the top claims for homeowners and landlords alike on home insurance. Indeed, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), insurers pay out around £2.5 million every day for ‘escape of water’ claims and almost one in five claims made on buildings and contents insurance is for damage caused by leaks.

Water damage has the potential to not only harm the contents of your home, but its very foundations and that’s why prevention is so important. It’s not always cataclysmic storms and floods that can lead to significant water damage either. Sometimes, even a leak the size of a pinhole can cause complete devastation.

So, we’ve put together a few top tips that all homeowners and landlords should take into account if they want to keep their properties dry.

Disconnect any hoses

Particularly during the cold winter months, if there is any water left in your exterior hose then it can move back into the pipes themselves and create a nasty ice block. This will definitely stop your water flow and could burst your pipes so it’s better practice to simply disconnect hoses in winter.

Clean your gutters

This should really go without saying, but cleaning your gutters regularly (at least every 6 months) is an easy and cost-effective way to prevent blockages and ice dams forming. Clear your gutters and downspouts and make sure water can flow through them easily.

Downspouts should also be directed at least 5 inches away from your home and the front yard should be sloped away from the foundation, otherwise, water can seep into the foundations and cause problems.

Fix those leaks

If you spot any pipes dripping or any dark spots forming under pipes or on ceilings, get them sorted. The same is also true if you come across any cracked or torn caulking. These are fixes that will take maybe 30 minutes to make but could end up saving you a small fortune in repairs.

Watch that bill

Many leaks will be hidden below flooring and within walls, so you might not necessarily be able to see the effects. You will, however, notice your water bill soaring.

So, if you notice that your water bills have been unusually high of late then it might be worth bringing in a professional plumber to examine the problem. First, though, find your water metre and turn off all of the taps in your home. If the dial still turns then you almost certainly have a leak to fix somewhere.

Know where the stopcock is

Every home will have a master stopcock that prevents water from getting into the home completely. It is often found in the kitchen underneath the units. Ensure that you know exactly where this main stopcock is so you can rush to turn it off in case of an emergency.

Insulate your pipes

When the water in pipes freezes, it turns to ice and then expands. This can lead to burst pipes, which are one of the most common causes of water damage in both commercial and domestic situation.

To help keep the water in your pipes from freezing, add insulation sleeves or heat tape to keep them warm and leave cabinet doors open in the winter to allow warm air to circulate.

Inspect the roof

Finally, roof leaks are one of the primary causes of water damage, especially in regions prone to heavy rain. Inspect your roof on a semi-regular basis and always after a heavy storm. If you notice any cracked shingles and flashing or a lot of debris then you might want to call in a roofing contractor.

More often than not, preventing water damage comes down to following common sense. So, don’t leave running appliance unattended (and this includes dishwashers and washing machines), make sure the ‘wet rooms’ in your home are sealed and secure and always watch where you’re planting new trees, as their roots can really play havoc with your waterworks.