Emergency plumbing...

Well, this happened...

Acting quickly

Obviously that is somewhat distressing, and before anyone else says it, yes I did turn off the water before making a video or tweeting. The water tank is sealed not open so draining that did not work, but even so it took some time for the water to stop. I think we must have had quite a lot in the ceiling still to leak out. Now it is eventually down to a drip.

Even so, it was probably 30 minutes before it had reduced to a drip.

Insurance (Hiscox)

I was not sure what was covered but remembered something about "Household emergency cover" for exactly this - i.e. sourcing (and paying for) a plumber to turn up on a Sunday lunchtime!

I had a scan of the renewal on my machine so had a quick look and saw the paragraph about improving the Household emergency cover this year, so great, I called the number.

First issue was it was 10 minutes on hold before someone answered, which surprised me slightly, water kept pouring out.

Then, they said they could not see the cover, so I re-checked, and to my surprise the emergency cover was "not selected". I am not sure why I did not select it, but read on, I may have been right not to!

They said that was no problem, they could call someone out just the same, it just meant I had to pay for it. Of course the policy may cover some of the cost anyway and I could make a claim later. Paying is not the issue to be honest, the issue was a small lake and shower in my kitchen!

So this means I was getting the same treatment as the "emergency cover" just on a "customer pays" basis.

I got a call from some company they use who confirmed details and said they would check who they have on call and get in touch.

That was around mid day.

Nothing happened!

Seriously, nothing! No call, no plumber. So in hindsight I am glad I did not bother paying for this as an insurance. At least this way they don't get paid having done "nothing".

In hindsight I would have been better googling a local plumber. As it happens the plumber we usually use is happy to come 9am tomorrow so we'll put up with no water until then.

So, overall, not impressed.

Why nothing happened?

Listen to the call.... Maybe skip the music...

Update: Next day (Monday) having had no water over night...

Sadly the kitchen ceiling needs re-plastering and decorating now. The problem, seems when old shower was removed many years ago the plumber at the time just used a push fit stopper. It finally gave up. Real plumber this morning cost me £20 and took him like 5 minutes at most. I dread to think what the emergency call out would have cost.

Update: Hiscox are taking it on as a complaint even though no claim.


  1. it would make more sense for the insurance element to be separate from actually sourcing a plumber - i would prefer to source a plumber myself as at least you actually get to speak to the plumber in most cases rather than have it arranged indirectly via a third party

  2. Not surprised. All insurers are useless in my experience. Am desparately seeking a top-end high-grade insurer for my car. Just can't find one. Tried loads of brokers who claim to deal with high-end cars/customers, etc. All useless. When I probe on what they are *actually* going to do (and exactly *how* quickly) when I call with an emergency the answers are lacklustre in the extreme. Just sort the leak yourself and put your insurer on written notice that they are liable for the costs.

  3. Just as a counter example, I once accidentally cut through a live water pipe in the attic and I had emergency cover with Sheilas' Wheels. We had to wait an hour or two (I think it was a Sunday) but the guy did come and sorted it right out.

  4. Most "emergency response" provisions aren't worth the paper they're written on unless there are SLAs with significant penalties. We looked at vendor to source equipment for disasters (portables, computers, generators, satellite dish, etc) and learned that they source things like generators from rental places in our area and we still have to pay for the rental (likely with a surcharge). Satellite dish would take 48 hours to arrive ... in that time we could more quickly commandeer a customer's satellite dish.

  5. We've had nothing but positive experiences with our household insurance, I'm not sure if I can name them, but for example:

    2 boiler breakdowns have both had engineers out (no charges to us or excess to pay) within 4 hours
    When a water cooling accident killed one of my GTX1080tis, they paid me cash to buy a new one (minus £50 excess) within 72 hours without even asking for the broken one to be sent away.

    I've been quite impressed with them.

  6. I had to claim on my emergency cover once when my bathroom sink tap pipe started dumping water through the kitchen ceiling. He charged £349 to replace a short piece of pipe and tighten a nut, and this after he forgot to cut off the water when undoing things so I had to do it while he sat there with his hand over the pipe end.

    It will not surprise you in the least to learn that the threshold where the insurance company started paying anything was... £350!

    (The new pipe failed within a year. An actual non-emergency plumber charged £40 to replace it with one that has not failed to this day.)

    I do wonder if emergency plumbing work is what incompetent plumbers go into. They can charge as much as they like for terrible work and nobody notices.

  7. Jesus H Fucking Christ! You needed a plumber not an engineer. As a charted engineer this sort of misunderstanding really really annoys me (you can probably tell).

    That was crap customer service but, sorry, it was the engineer bit that pissed me off.

    BTW I was in this situation about 5 years ago, yes I had water pouring through the kitchen ceiling just like you did. I don't know if your insurance will be the same but when I made a claim there were actually two claims, one for the plumbing (house) and one for damage the water made (contents). They didn't tell me there were two claims, as far as I was concerned I had made only one.

    Fast forward two years and I was buying a new policy with another company who then cancelled it suddenly because I had made a flase statement, i.e. saying that I only had one previous claim when I had two.

    Watch out for that.

  8. I also rail against use of the term engineer when they mean technician. Engineers design things. Technicians don't.

    1. Indeed, I had to search to find reference to an engineer in the comments. Yes, somewhat misused. I may not be a constructor of military engines (mid-14c) but I have a degree in software engineering, so appreciate the problem...

  9. This is why I do all my own plumbing. Time from detecting a leak to fixing it is measured in minutes, and it has only happened once in 30 years of doing my own work. It isn't hard to learn how to do basic pipework, a man of RevK's intelligence ought to be able to do it.

    I had air con put in three years ago. Half way through I was wishing I'd taught myself how to do it, they left a loop of a couple of metres of spare pipework in the circuit in the loft and the pipes, wiring and drain all take different routes in some places and the same route in others. They just fastened them down wherever they happened to land in the loft as far as I can tell, it's a mess. Thankfully I insisted on doing the electric feed for the air con myself back to the consumer unit, though the air con company complained a lot and made me sign stuff saying they weren't liable for any electrical faults (happy to sign, there won't be any).

    1. I had a friend who did something similar, he taught himself plumbing so he could fit his own central heating which he did. He plumbed everything himself except the connection to the gas main which needed an accredited person. So he called an accredited plumber to do thisd final task, when he arrived he was so impressed by the plumbing he offerred my friend a job!

      I have thought of doing something similar but what puts me off is that I will invest some time and money into training myself up but then lose the skills over time because plumbing jobs don't happen that often at home.

      Don't you find this to be a problem?

    2. I agree plumbing is relatively easy on the DIY task list. After getting my dad to help with replacing the radiators a couple of years ago, I've added another heater a couple of weeks back in a room that was too cold and didn't have one, and done a clean of the central heating system. All with no labour charges. More complex DIY jobs, such as skirting boards in the living room, and the attic hatch enlargement we got someone in to do as I'd hit the limits of what I could do.

    3. I have no doubt I could do plumbing - I am not unable to pick up such skills, nor electrical work, etc. I may draw the line at plastering as that looks hard. However I really feel it is my time of life to embrace GALMI rather than DIY.

    4. Actually I learnt plumbing while helping my dad do DIY jobs round the house when I was a teenager. I was much happier under the car changing shock absorbers with my dad or helping him build a garage than going out playing with my friends. As a result I can do plumbing (including gas before that became illegal), mains electrics, plaster boarding, and I can even do brick laying and build dry stone walls.

      No I don't find I forget it, plumbing is easy enough that once learnt it is never forgotten. Just think of it as giant sized soldering using a blowtorch instead of a soldering iron. I have had to learn BSP threads and plastic pipe plumbing since getting my own house, but time and some dummy runs made that easy enough.

      Plastering is a whole different ball game, that is a serious skill. The working time you have before the plaster starts to go off is very short, and getting it properly flat and polished is hard. I won't even attempt it having seen my dad (who can do damn nigh anything DIY related) fail badly at it. I've even seen a professional plasterer who had previously been very good do a moderately bad job when he hadn't done any for two years.

    5. I should point out the reason for doing DIY for me is not saving money, I can afford to pay for it to be done. The problem is a) finding someone who will do it the particular way I want it done not the quick, cheap and standard way and b) finding someone that won't cock it up. The stress and aggravation of dealing with idiot workmen just isn't worth it. It takes me ten times as long I'm sure, but at least it is how I want it.

      It's also quite satisfying having done these things myself.

  10. Quite right too that they are taking it on as a complaint. The only reason there is no claim is because they ballsed-up.

  11. Well worth having some 15mm and 22mm compression-fitting end-stops in your bits box. They are of the order of £1 each and just need a couple of spanners to enable you to seal off that end.

    I have used those push-fit end stops in the past and they do work, but I wouldn't want to leave one in for any length of time.

    Disclaimer: IANAP

  12. I had something similar at Easter about two years ago - B&Q's plumbing contractor had cut a few corners, including cracking a water pipe and wrapping it in PTFE tape rather than replace it properly. So, the bodged "repair" held for a while, then diverted the water supply into the kitchen ceiling.

    No "emergency care" cover, just phoned a local plumber. (Not one I'd use again, with hindsight, but enough to fix the problem at the time.)

  13. Insurance companies are a pain! I wanted to sign up with a particular one when I moved off the Brent flood plain, but unfortunately they don't cover contents if you rent your home from a housing association. Others don't cover bungalows which are terraced (though semi-detached are OK), and yet more seem to think there may be subsidence risks here, which others don't.

    As for plumbing, one of the oddest things happened on the day a large part of the refurbishment of my bedroom elsewhere was done. When the floor was taken up for the electrical work, a hot water leak was found, where a steel pipe met a copper one. A specialist plumber replaced the steel pipe with copper and all was well - but the leak had in fact been going on for years.


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