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how does insurance work for unexplained water leaks in a house?

(11 Posts)
beaglesaresweet Sun 07-Jun-15 23:48:48

I'm preparing myself for the worst just in case, as I have a leak in cellar which so far no one can find the reason for. Drainage engineer is coming to cctv it after his camera could only reach into one manhole but had to unseal the second one so will look in that. I have a horrible feeling that it's not to do with drains underground bt a water going through internal crack in the wall from plumbing pipes.
I've already paid for the rain drain pipe having been dug out (it looked fine) and part of drainage (so far inconclusive) which amounts to 500 quid and no result so far. If I start on a plumber too and more builders to do more digging, I'm just despairing. The major problem seems to be that not one person can investigate all angles, have to pay every specialist separately - the other problem it's hell to even get people to come and look!

A guy came to look at the cellar re sealing it in future and said the way to do it is call imsurance and ask them to come out after making an initial effort yourself (cctv). Is he right? and how to go about it - would they ask trick question to avoid getting involved? would they do invrestigation or only pay up for repair if it's serious? only for faulty outside drains or also for any cracks in internal pipes?

PigletJohn Mon 08-Jun-15 00:12:08

IME insurance pays for putting right damage caused by an Escape of Water (this is typically, ruined carpets, ceilings fallen down, spoiled kitchen units) but not for repairing the fault (e.g. leaking pipe) that caused it.

For drains and leaking supply pipes, the water company is often quite helpful and I have known them take a look and offer advice, and on occasion clear a blockage, even when it is strictly not the company's responsibility. Perhaps they are given a half-hour guideline or something for quick and easy.

PigletJohn Mon 08-Jun-15 00:15:02


the water co, and an experienced plumber, can look at water and identify if it comes from a waterpipe (is chlorinated), a waste pipe (contains soap) or a gutter (soft and contains leaf litter).

beaglesaresweet Mon 08-Jun-15 00:22:21

thanks PJ, I haven't yet tried the water co - sounds like I should do that! that guy did mention it along with his suggestion about insurance - I did think it'd be strange if insurance co's agreed to repair damage to pipes rather than the house as such.
Am still in search for the honest reliable plumber as I'm new to the area. One has been recommended today but he is 'probably busy for weeks', but we'll see what cctv of drains shows first.

beaglesaresweet Mon 08-Jun-15 00:24:01

there is a bit of sewage smell now, in hte room above the cellar - but strange thing is, it was very strong for couple of days after the engineer did some of the cctv (or maybe after washing machine being on?) and then has subsided a lot, but still a trace on and off.

beaglesaresweet Mon 08-Jun-15 19:15:10

Right, so we now know there is crack in the sewage pipe not far from the trap so it can''t be lined and a new section needs to be fitted. For zsome reason the guy said it may not be the whole problem, but 'hopefully it is'. This is prob due to te weet patch on the celler wall above the leak in hte floor (corner).
PJ, do you know what is the average price for section and trap replacement? also this is the original pipe, he said, so would the work not affect the rest of the pipe and more cracks happen further along? any other advise as to what to ask/make sure of.
I assume insurance wouldn't cover underground pipe cracks?

beaglesaresweet Mon 08-Jun-15 19:17:59

also could it be the sewage pipe fault only IF there was no sewage smell for nearly two months when water appeared in cellar but the smell appeared only about a week ago and now is faint? I'm now paranoid that the rather inept small builders who dug around rain water drain may have damaged the sewage pipe (deeper down) with their spades? there was no sewage smell before then.

PigletJohn Mon 08-Jun-15 20:34:05

I think it's more likely that disturbance of the soil has allowed the smell out. Have you seen your red worms yet?

Clay pipes are very often cracked and broken after a hundred years or so, it gets more obvious when there is subsidence or tree roots get into the crack. The damage is usually at the socket where two lengths join together. There are modern sleeved connectors which have some flexibility now.

If your house had no cellar you might not have known about it.

Most of the work will be in digging the holes, so it will depend how deep and how long the hole is. It might take a couple of men a few days if a small job. I doubt they will use a digger or a dumper unless they need to run a new section to the road. Sometimes when you dig up a break, you uncover another break, and when you dig up the second, you find a third. This is not the builders' fault, but can become depressing. you'll want to fix it all rather than come back in a few years. If it starts to look like the whole thing needs to come up, ask if they should reconsider the approach and bring in a bigger machine. The technology and materials are very simple, unless the drains are fit to be relined with plastic.

You had better notify your insurers that you have found a leaking drain, see if they cover it and if they want to inspect or deal with the contractors, but I think you will find they don't cover underground pipework.

I will guess that the next-door house is the same age, built in the same way with the same materials, so presumably their drains are in the same condition, so encourage them to have theirs investigated.

If it was me, I would like to expose the cellar wall near the drain, and see if the mortar has been washed away by the leak - if so, hose out the mud and repair with a pointing gun which is very quick. Surprisingly, it does not do any good to waterproof the face of an old underground wall, because damp still forces its way up from the footings.

beaglesaresweet Mon 08-Jun-15 21:50:16

it sounded like he thought the job will take a day (for two men) - it's not a large stretch to dig, about a meter? not very deep, I've seen it. It does sound straight forward, but is the pipe itself (section) expensive? yes, worried about more cracks. I think they will use a machine - these aer drains engineers not just builders btw.
So what would a reasonable price be, or a range at least?
How would you expose the cellar wall? just by digging? or do you mean taking outer bricks off? sorry if silly question.

PigletJohn Mon 08-Jun-15 22:12:50

no, the pipe is quite cheap. They might use clay pipe with a rubber collar, or plastic soil pipe, and a bend or two and a gulley and some cement and ballast. It will I expect not be a matter of thousands.

To expose the wall just needs digging with a spade or shovel. Repointing with a gun is a job that can be given to an unskilled person, it will not need to be elegant underground. Much quicker and easier than doing it with just a trowel, though if they are used to bricklaying they might prefer it. They might have a labourer if they are expecting a lot of hand-digging.

beaglesaresweet Mon 08-Jun-15 22:20:46

thanks, PJ. Will try to suggest this to them.

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