Home Flooding: The Common Causes

It isn’t just heavy rainfall we should be wary of when it comes to home flooding – there are other common causes inside the home that can do just as much damage. In fact, burst pipes, poor drainage, clogged rain gutters and damaged foundations are a more immediate risk for many householders.House flooding© Monkey Business / Adobe Stock


Burst pipes

While heavy rain is by far the biggest cause of flooding, burst pipes can cause a lot of damage. A burst pipe can strike when we have freezing weather. The water inside the pipes expands if it freezes, causing them to burst. If a plumbing emergency occurs, act fast to minimise the damage.

When you go on holiday in winter, it’s a good idea to leave your central heating on at the minimum temperature, for a short period each day, to reduce the risk of a burst if the temperature drops.


Dish washer

Any major appliances connected to the water supply can flood your house if a problem crops up. This may occur if your dishwasher is improperly connected or broken.

If you find your dishwasher flooding, turn off the power supply first to avoid a risk of electrocution. Remove all the dishes and racks and check the drain grate on the floor of the dishwasher. If this is clogged with food and debris, this can could be the problem. If the water doesn’t drain after you have cleaned the drain grate, check the hose attached to the machine and see if that has a blockage. If it’s not something simple that you can fix yourself, call a plumber.


Washing machine

A washing machine normally floods because there’s a blockage somewhere in the outlet pipe. The machine tries to pump the water away, but when it can’t due to the blockage, it finds an alternative way out – and this is usually all over the floor!

You may find yourself ankle-deep in smelly grey water. A warning sign before it gets to this stage is water coming up the plug hole when your washing machine is pumping out. While a small amount of water from your sink may trickle past a blockage, the gush of washing machine water down the pipe will probably be too much at once.

If it’s beyond your skills to find the blockage and clear it yourself, you will probably need a plumber. You may also find the unpleasant smell lingers in the room, particularly if it has soaked into any furniture.


Water heater

A leaking water heater can cause extensive damage to your home. Even a water heater pipe leaking or dripping slowly will cause damage over time.

A seemingly small leak can cause the water heater itself to flood, make the carpet go mouldy and permanently stain the walls – this is a job for a plumber to sort out! The average lifespan of a water heater is around eight to 12 years, so it may need to be replaced.



A burst radiator can quite easily flood a house and can be a nightmare to sort out. The rapid gushing of water and steam can flood a room in no time and will cause a multitude of water damage issues if it isn’t stopped in its tracks. If it’s an upstairs radiator, it can flood the whole house.

The problem can be caused by internal corrosion of the radiator, freezing water in sub-zero temperatures if you haven’t kept your central heating turned on, or if the water pressure suddenly changes. This is a job for an expert plumber rather than a DIY fanatic!


Flood protection

You can give yourself some control over the risk of flooding by investing in flood protection for your home. According to insurers, there are two categories of flood protection: resistance and resilience. Your home should be fitted with both for maximum protection.

Flood resistance measures are aimed at preventing exterior floodwater from entering your home, including removable barriers for doors and windows, temporary seals for doors and air bricks, one-way valves on drainage pipes and toilets to help stop sewage water from backing up into your home, and “pump and sump” systems to drain water from below ground level before it rises.


Flood resilience

If water does manage to enter, or if you suffer a flood in your home caused by a faulty appliance, flood resilience measures ensure only minimal damage will be done. These can include having ceramic or stone floor tiles rather than wood flooring or laminate, fitting electrical sockets above 1.5 metres high, having stainless steel kitchen units rather than chipboard, and installing UPVC door and window frames.

You can buy special waterproof bags to help protect your possessions, including furniture, from the effects of floodwater. If you have items that are likely to be easily damaged, keep them upstairs, or higher up in the room. Keep spare bricks, wooden pallets or blocks to stand items on to raise them off the floor.

You could also get water sensors installed, as these will detect rising water, giving you an early warning, which will give you time to move important items and put your flood defences in place. The Environment Agency runs a Floodline warning service which you can sign up for if you’re at risk.


Insurance cover

Having the appropriate home insurance cover can help with the financial costs of repairing your property after flood damage. Some insurers will include flood resilience cover as standard in their buildings insurance.

Sadly, your furniture can take a hit in the event of a flood. If it needs drying out or is damaged beyond repair in the worst-case scenario, contact Furniture Rental Online to find out more about our emergency furniture packages.

Our professional team can assist loss adjusters, claims handlers, insurance companies and householders who have suffered flood damage and need temporary furniture. Give us a call on 0800 7819 427 to find out more.

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