Loft tank leaks become much more common when the weather turns cold in the UK, especially in sub-zero temperatures of the winter months including December, January and February. This is particularly the case with severe winter storms such as the Beast from the East.
When temperatures fall below 0°C (the temperature at which water freezes) for a period of time, the water in pipes expands. Because the water is confined within the pipes, this puts pressure on the plastic or copper pipework, which can lead to cracks or splits in water pipes such as those shown on the right below.
We wrote specifically about this useful topic in our article about frozen pipe water leaks and included a number of tips to help you not be affected by frozen pipe leaks and what to do if you are. Clearly, one of the places that is more at risk of frozen pipes is your loft or attic and often these can lead to loft tank leaks and associated damage.
Effects of a Loft Tank Leak
If you are unfortunate enough to suffer a loft tank year, no matter what the time of year, the effects of it can be catastrophic for a number of reasons, images like those below show the dramatic effects a loft tank leak or burst pipe in loft can cause, bringing down ceilings, wet loft insulation and associated fixtures and fittings such as electric wiring (which could be supplying something like a PIV Unit), light fittings, pipework and other items above in the loft.
We have a great article explaining how loft insulation being missing sometimes being the cause of cold spots in houses, especially on ceilings below.
When you have a ceiling leak caused by a loft tank leak, significant ceiling water damage can be caused for a number of reasons, plus they are inherently more risky than, for example, a leak under floorboards (although that has risks too!) in the man because of the risk of falling debris and the fact that large amounts of water can be involved, especially with loft tank leaks. We’ll look into that more now.
What happens with a loft tank leak
Loft tank leaks and the impact they have to your home or business will depend on a number of factors, this can include things such as:
- How much water is involved with the loft tank leak
- How long the loft tank leak is going for
- The number of areas affected by the loft tank leak
- This includes the number of floors and rooms affected
- The construction of the areas around the loft tank leak
For example, one of the worst loft tank leaks happen when people are away from their property for some time (for example on holiday) and come back to a loft tank leak that may have been going for days or even weeks. As we explain with our water leak calculator, a leak that is left unhindered can involve vast amounts of water. For example, a medium flow water leak at medium pressure might leak 8,640 litres per day!
On this subject, please also see our water use UK calculator, which you will find interesting.
That is a stunning amount of water and, as we alluded to earlier, let’s say you have a loft tank leak in a standard UK detached, two story property the leak will not only affect the loft tank area (wet insulation, wet plasterboard, wet rafters etc) but also floors below.
On that topic, see our article explaining if moisture resistant plasterboard is any good.
Typically this would be bedrooms, bathrooms, landings and staircases. But clearly, it’s highly likely to then affect other rooms below such as living rooms, kitchens, dining rooms, hallways, studies etc. And clearly not just the buildings structure and materials too but also the contents. In some instances, water leaks from loft tank leaks can be worse than floods. We discuss this further in our associated article about major water leaks.
Thankfully, as well as being experts in water leak detection (we find loft tank leaks too) Rainbow Restoration (formerly known as Rainbow International) are the leading local water damage restoration company too so we can help with both.
Types of Loft Tank Leak
There are a number of things that can cause a loft tank leak and, equally, a number of things that can break causing a leak and (as we mentioned earlier) frozen pipes can be a part of this.
Things that can cause a loft tank leak:
- A leak in the loft tank itself – a crack
- A leak in the connections to the loft tank
- A leak in the pipe feeding a loft tank
- A leak in the pipes leaving a loft tank
- A failure in the loft tank ballcock valve
- A failure in a loft tank overflow pipe
- A frozen loft tank (more rare)
Depending on which of these type of loft tank leak and the cause will impact the amount and type of damage. As we mentioned earlier these leaks can be dramatic and sudden, such as when you get frozen pipes in the loft which then split and, once thawed can spray lots of water quickly.
However, in other instances you can get slow loft tank leaks where there is just a small or slow leak, but because they can go unnoticed for a long time, they themselves can cause damage in your loft or below.
This can be one of the causes of condensation in loft so if you suspect you have a water leak in your loft, contact us for help and we will help to find it for you. Including using some of the techniques below:
- Thermal imaging leak detection devices for water leaks
- Tracer Gas Leak Detection ‘smell’ for leaks, using tracer gas
- Acoustic Leak Detection to listen for sounds of a water leak
- Moisture Meters – a variety for different situations
- Water Meters to measure water flow or loss
- Pipe detectors and locators to trace hidden pipes
- See more about types of water leak detection
- Also our guide to advanced leak detection methods
Why are loft tank leaks bad?
When you get a loft tank leak in your home or business they can be especially bad for a number of reasons (many related to each other) including:
- They can happen suddenly or slowly over time
- Large amounts of water can be involved
- They are in a location not often seen each day
- Linked to that, accessing them can be tricky
- Water can spread to a number of locations
- They can cause black mould problems
- They can leave you without heating
- They can come into contact with electrics
- If it ls a leak from upstairs flat, affect many flats
- They can damage buildings and contents
- They can mean you need alternative accommodation
- Or for businesses, business interruption claims
This is why it’s best to get the help of a specialist company such as ourselves who can help with loft tank leaks or other leaks in your loft, including frozen pipe leaks in lofts.
On the subject of a loft tank leak, something that can be very beneficial in an emergency when you need to cut of water supply to help prevent more damage is isolation valves on fittings. And similarly, talking of the important topic of prevention methods and techniques, we have a really useful quick guide giving tips to prevent water leaks.
Do remember that, if you have Trace and Access on your house insurance cover, both the cost of finding and fixing the water leak could be paid for by your insurer so it is worth checking.
How to help prevent loft tank leaks
Clearly it’s not always possible to avoid loft tank leaks in your property, but there are a number of things you can do to reduce the risks. These include:
- Don’t let your lofts get too cold
- Keep your house well heated
- Ensure combi boilers etc are maintained
- Get them serviced regularly
- Watch out for combi boiler leaks
- Keep an eye out for error messages
- Such as F1 Boiler Error or E119 Boiler Error
- Think about having back up heating sources
Here are some more loft tank leak tips!…
- Consider leaving heating on when you’re away
- Likewise, turning your stop tap off just in case
- Be extra vigilant in (and after!) cold weather
- Watch out for signs of a water leak
- Keep your loft well insulated
- Watch out in very hot weather too
- Make sure your loft tank insulation is good
- Likewise the insulation on loft pipes
- This can help stop condensation on pipes
- Consider a water leak alarm or sensor
- Keep water flowing (less likely to freeze)
- Check for low water pressure
- Be ready for water leak repairs
We hope you found our guide to loft tank leaks and the many helpful tips we have included. Hopefully you won’t have a winter loft tank leak or frozen pipe leak in your loft but, if you do, contact us for help from our team of water leak detection experts.
Can a water tank in loft leak?
Absolutely, water tanks in lofts can leak and are not uncommon in the UK, especially during very long, cold winter weather. A loft tank leak can be caused by a number of things and can affect the tank itself or the fixtures and fittings to or from them. Loft tank leaks can be very dramatic and dangerous as (a) they can happen suddenly (b) they can involve lots of water and (c) they present a number of risks, including from falling debris to rooms below.
Why is my water tank in the loft overflowing?
If your loft water tank is overflowing then there is likely a failure in one of the fittings within or around it, which can include the loft tank ball valve, float valve or ballcock. In most instances the loft water tank overflow pipe will take care of the extra water (it might be how you spot it!) but it is still worth getting it fixed as loft tank leaks can cause major property damage if not repaired. If you have an overflowing water tank in your loft get it checked and repaired ASAP.
Why do houses have tanks in loft?
Water tanks in loft spaces, or header tank in lofts as they can be called can exist in properties (including older properties) for a number of reasons but primarily tanks in lofts (there can often be two) are for suppling a steady flow of water to parts of your property plumbing system, including to your taps or even to your central heating system to keep it topped up. Tanks may be there as expansion tanks in the loft too. Each system will vary, as will the reason.