How to prevent water damage

Peter Bratt

Published June 2018

Peter Bratt is a senior liability underwriter at the Länsförsäkringar insurance company. His is an expert in damage. Peter works with insurance and damage issues in the context of buildings and professional liability for clients who inspect, sell, draw, plan and build houses.


Bathroom, Water damage, Water leak detector

Every year, around 60,000 homes in Sweden suffer water damage

The most common causes are leaks from hot or cold water pipes. Water damage can be very costly and disruptive for the people affected. It causes severe damage to the building and often results in the growth of mould, which can cause allergies and asthma.

There are now more incidents of water damage in kitchens than in wet rooms. One reason for this is that more kitchen equipment is now connected to a water supply: refrigerators and freezers with builtin ice makers and carbonated water systems, for example. Another reason is that wooden floors are increasingly common. We met Peter Bratt, a damage expert at the Länsförsäkringar insurance company.

How to prevent water damage

I recommend installing a water leak detector system that can identify leaks at an early stage. They trigger an alarm and shut off the water supply if they sense any form of leak – if the toilet is running, for example, or if a concealed joint springs a leak.

Not just old pipes

Most water damage is caused by old, worn pipes. Although leaks often stem from concealed pipes, that have been dripping slowly for a long period, they may even come from new installations. That is why it is just as relevant to install a water leak detector in a new house as in an old one.

Requirement for water leak detector

Water leak detector function in roughly the same way as earth fault breakers do in electrical systems. The next stage of development towards safer homes is to require the installation of water leak detector in new builds and renovations.

The initiative would not only help individual homeowners to sleep better at night, but it would also reduce environmental impact by cutting the number of incidents of damage and improving the indoor climate in many homes.

The water leak detector is to tap water what an earth fault breaker is to an electrical system

Peter Bratt, Länsförsäkringar

5 tips from Peter about preventing water damage

  1. Install a water leak detector that regularly checks your tap water system, including all connected equipment, and which shuts off the water whenever it detects a leak.
  2. If you do not have a water leak detector, always shut off the main stopcock if the house will be empty for more than a day. It is a good idea to ask a friend or neighbour to check your home occasionally when you’re away.
  3. Remember always to use and install tested and type-approved products, and to employ authorised plumbers.
  4. One simple way to prevent water damage in the kitchen is to buy a water alarm. Install the alarm sensors under the worktop, dishwasher and fridge/ freezer. It functions just like a fi re alarm and is triggered by leaks.
  5. Make sure that your dishwasher, refrigerator and freezer are installed on a moisture-proof surface.

The homeowner’s list of nightmares

According to a survey recently commissioned by Villeroy & Boch Gustavsberg, one in three Swedes has experienced water damage in his or her home, and a third of these incidents of water damage have been classed ‘comprehensive’. In addition, a survey conducted by the Swedish Homeowners Association reveals that water damage is what concerns property owners most with regard to their homes.

  1. Water damage and leaks (46%)
  2. House burning down (40%)
  3. Burglary (38%)
  4. Mould and dry rot (28%)
  5. More expensive energy (24%)