Plumbing in old homes can be a minefield of issues big and small, but while an obvious, big leak is something most of us will get fixed as quickly as possible (unless it happens while we're away), small, undetected leaks can – and will – do slow, and sometimes devastating, damage to your property, as well as wasting water.
Just how many properties suffer from mini leaks? Recent research suggests that the number is high, with almost half (46 per cent) of all domestic properties leaking water. HomeServe Labs collected data from 1,000 of their small, smart water leak detector devices called LeakBot, and the results are disturbing. A property with an active leak loses 20.63ml of water per minute, which amounts to 30 litres per day if not fixed. Put another way, this is one-fifth of the total domestic water usage of an average household. Most common areas where the leaks were found are toilets and leaking taps.
Craig Foster, CEO of HomeServe Labs says, 'The amount of water being wasted by domestic leaks is significant and concerning with potentially damaging implications for both the consumer and the environment. Small leaks might not seem like much, but they can quickly become big problems. Water damage is not only expensive – average claims for escape of water are around £2,638 – but also damaging to housing infrastructure and the environment.
'The Head of the Environment Agency recently issued a warning about the need to reduce water usage by 40 litres a day to avoid a catastrophic water shortage within 25 years. The risk of damage from hidden water escape is huge, particularly as more and more homeowners are opting for new design features such as underfloor heating and concealed toilets. These leaks become harder to spot and have the potential to cause serious damage if left undiscovered over a long period of time.
Thankfully, smart home technology can come to the rescue pretty effectively. We've already reported on the Grohe Sense and Sense Guard, smart sensors that are designed to monitor changes in humidity, detecting leaks in key places throughout the home – think under the sink, near appliances and in the bathroom. Having detected an issue, the smart sensors are programmed to deliver a notification straight to your smart phone, allowing you to take action as soon as possible.
'Homeowners today really can benefit from investing in the latest connected home technologies such as LeakBot (opens in new tab) that can help prevent leaks happening, or at least alert owners of small leaks before they escalate,' continues Craig Foster. 'End-to-end service systems also need to become the norm – as soon as a leak is detected this system should enable users to call a professional technician at the touch of a button so that they can find and fix the located leak.'
- Want to tackle potential leaks yourself? Check out our tips for solving common plumbing problems