How to avoid water damage at home while you’re on holiday

Heading off on a short holiday soon? Take these few simple steps to avoid potential leaks at home while you’re gone. You may not be able to prevent water damage entirely, but you can help reduce both its likelihood and severity.

Before you go, put together a basic checklist. Include the points below and others — like reminders to turn off your air conditioning or heating. Pop it on your fridge and cross everything off before your departure. Who knows? You may relax a little more while you’re away.

Turn your water off at the mains

When your pipes haven’t been used for a while, pressure can build, which may cause them to burst. To reduce the chances of this happening, turn your water off at the mains before you go away.

To do so, locate the shut-off valve. The shut-off valve should be near your water meter or in an area like a basement or garage. Once you’ve found it, turn the valve clockwise until it stops. Remember to let anyone looking after your home know that you’ve done this.

If you’re heading away on a longer trip, it may also be worth checking your hot water system requirements. If yours needs a minimum level of water to keep it running, you may need to turn it off too.

Turn off taps connected to appliances and fixtures

Before heading away, turn appliances off at the stop or water supply tap. This can reduce the risk of appliances, such as your dishwasher or washing machine, and fixtures like your toilet, flooding when you’re away. This is especially important if it isn’t practical to turn off your mains water.

Stop taps don’t always come standard on appliances or fixtures, so be sure to ask your plumber to install them where possible.

Inspect flexi hoses

Flexi hoses — also known as flexible braided hoses — are a common way of connecting appliances and fixtures to your water supply. You’ll probably find them in your bathroom, kitchen and laundry. Flexi hoses are versatile and inexpensive, but they’re also a major cause of water damage because they’re not as durable as standard pipes. Older, corroded or overstretched flexi hoses can literally burst at the seams.

To help prevent leaks, store chemicals and soaps away from them and check their condition regularly. Keep an eye out for:

  • discolouration
  • exposed rubber lining, or
  • separation or splintering of the braid.

If your flexi hoses are showing any of these signs, get in touch with a licensed plumber for their advice.

Check for signs of mould

Flexi hoses may leak without you even being aware of it, so checking for signs of mould can help you identify anything out of the ordinary. Be sure to:

  • Take a good look behind your fridge, inside any cupboards in your laundry and under your sink for dampness.
  • Check any areas of shelving and skirting. Decay or swelling could indicate a leak.
  • Identify any signs of black mould spores.

Tidy your outdoor areas

A little basic backyard maintenance — like keeping your gutters clean and trees and shrubs pruned — can help you avoid water damage inside and outside your home. Your pipes may become blocked, or even break, if leaf litter is left unchecked or tree roots are allowed to grow around them.

Make sure your home and contents insurance is up to date

If a leak were to occur in your home, having the right level of home and contents insurance might cover you if something is affected by water damage. What’s more, keeping your existing policy up to date may also help you avoid being underinsured.

Remember: it’s up to you to maintain the condition of your appliances and plumbing. We don't cover wear, tear and gradual deterioration or loss or damage as a result of a gradual process of liquid leaking, splashing, dripping or overflowing. Take a look at your policy’s Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) so you understand its terms and conditions.

Suncorp Home and Contents Insurance will cover damage or loss from a water leak, or an ‘escape of liquid’, if it’s accidental or sudden. This includes liquid bursting, leaking or overflowing from your appliances, fixtures or plumbing. While some accidents may be unavoidable, the right insurance will help make sure you’re prepared.

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Insurance is issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as Suncorp Insurance. Consider the Product Disclosure Statement before making a decision about this insurance. The Target Market Determination is also available. This advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situations or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it.

The information is intended to be of general nature only. Subject to any rights you may have under any law, we do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss or damage, including loss of business or profits or any other indirect loss, incurred as a result of reliance upon the information. Please make your own enquiries.

Escape of liquid

This covers damage caused by liquid leaking, overflowing or bursting from things like your fridge, washing machine, bath (but not shower), toilet, fixed pipes (except agricultural and overflow pipes ), swimming pool, water main, fixed cooling system or an aquarium.

We do not cover the cost of fixing the leak itself, wear, tear and gradual deterioration or loss or damage as a result of a gradual process of liquid leaking, splashing, dripping or overflowing. See the PDS for more details on what we don't cover.