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Two home improvement problems that you shouldn’t ignore

If you spot a problem in your home, acting quickly can prevent repair bills from escalating

Woman collecting leaking water in buckets

Leaking water and malfunctioning boilers are the two issues our Which? Trusted Traders most frequently have to fix after homeowners leave the problems to get worse.

While it can be tempting to ignore seemingly minor faults that occur in your home, particularly ones that might come with a hefty repair bill, there are some issues you really shouldn’t neglect.

In a recent survey*, 52% of our traders said they’d seen homeowners leave water leaks until they became bigger problems that had to be fixed by a professional.

Boilers are the second biggest area for concern. Three in 10 traders said they’d been called in to repair them after issues had been ignored.

Read on to find out how to stop a water leak and how to solve common boiler problems.

Loose or damaged roof tiles and signs of mould or mildew are the next two relatively common complications that homeowners tend to overlook, according to traders.


If you need repairs in your home, search for a vetted professional in your area at Which? Trusted Traders.


Water leaks and boiler problems

A separate survey of nearly 4,000 homeowners** revealed that 56% had experienced a water leak and 63% had encountered problems with their boiler.

The homeowners in our survey were quick to mend water leaks. In fact, 86% solved the issue as soon as they discovered it. Meanwhile, 11% left their leak to get worse, only fixing it when it became really necessary.

For troublesome boilers, it’s a different story. Some 68% fixed theirs as soon as they noticed a problem, but 27% waited until it got worse to call in an expert.

For both problems, a handful of people in our survey had ignored the problem until it needed an expensive repair – exactly what our traders warn against. Some told us more about their experiences:

How to stop a water leak

A woman trying to fix a leaking appliance

If you have water leaking from your plumbing or an appliance, the first thing you should do is to turn the water off.

You can use the stopcock, which will shut off the water system for your whole house. Alternatively, some appliances or fixtures have isolation valves that mean you can turn off the water nearer to the source of the leak.

If the leak is very bad and you can’t contain it without shutting off your entire water supply, you may need to call an emergency plumber.

If it can be isolated more easily or is only a slow drip, you may be able to avoid that extra expense by booking a regular appointment with a plumber.

If you have a leak from a roof, prevent water damage by moving or covering furniture, electronics and other valuables as soon as possible. Try to contain the water in buckets, and put down towels to absorb any splashes.

If the leak is severe and buckets are filling quickly, you may need to call an emergency roofer. If the leak can be contained in the short term, you should still get a professional in but you may be able to avoid the extra expense of an emergency call-out.

If you need help with a leak, search for plumbers in your area or find roofers near you who have passed the Which? Trusted Traders assessment process and who follow the code of conduct.

How to solve common boiler problems

A man who is cold because his central heating isn't working

Read our guide to the most common boiler problems and repair costs to find out how to fix them, and how much it should cost if you need to hire a professional.

Several Trusted Traders who took part in our survey said that homeowners often ignore the need to get their boiler serviced every year. An annual service is essential to keep boilers running smoothly and can help to prevent costly problems before they occur.

If your boiler is really on the blink, it might be time for a new one. Head to our guide to how to buy the best boiler for more details.

*Survey of 213 Which? Trusted Traders in April 2019.
**Survey of 3,885 Which? Members in April 2019.

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