If you’ve spotted a serious leak – one from a burst pipe, for example – the first thing to do is to switch off the water supply to prevent any damage. Again, do this using the internal stop tap. Also turn off the electricity supply, if there’s any chance of water coming into contact with your electrics.
To stem the water from a leaking pipe temporarily, you can wrap a towel around it. If the water’s gushing out, you might be able to reduce it by turning on all the taps – to divert the flow and drain the system.
If you know the leak’s coming from a single appliance, like a washing machine or toilet, you might be able to stop it using the appliance’s isolation valve. That way, you’ll still have water throughout the rest of the house.
Leaks can be dramatic, but not always. Some are slow and barely detectable. Signs might be cracks in the floor, patches of mould appearing – even an unexpectedly high water bill, if you’re on a water meter.
If you suspect a leak but don’t know where it’s coming from, you may need to get a plumber in to do some detective work. Some home insurance policies offer trace and access cover for this.
Whatever the cause of a leak, once you’ve dealt with the emergency, you’ll probably need to have a professional come and fix the problem permanently.