When money is tight and you cannot afford to hire a plumber, the last thing you need to happen is a problem with your pipes, bathroom, or boiler system.
Plumbers are expensive. The average hourly rate they charge in the United Kingdom in 2020 is between £40 – £60 an hour. For an emergency call out, you can expect to pay double that with an additional charge tacked on.
That sort of money might be beyond you for a number of reasons. If it is and you cannot afford a plumber, then there are other options available to you.
Carry out a DIY fix using a pipe repair kit
Many people assume that because pipework is so integral to a house, it can be fixed only by an expert. That might have been true many years ago, but pipe repair is now a job that can be carried out by anyone with a pipe repair kit.
Pipe Repair Kits are available from as little as £16 online, a drop in the ocean compared to the £160 which you cannot afford to pay for an emergency call out to a plumber.
Kits are easy to use and require no formal training. Simply plug the leak with the sealing material provided and then overwrap with a resin-impregnated pipe repair bandage which sets rock-hard for an impact resistant layer over the sealant.
Not only is a repair made with a pipe repair kit cheap, but it is also permanent. Kits are effective on all types of pipes found in the home and repairs can be carried out in under 30 minutes.
Apply for a property repair and maintenance grant
Several grants are available in the United Kingdom for elderly, disabled and other vulnerable people who need to carry out essential repairs or maintenance but are struggling to find the means to pay.
The Home Improvement Agencies Scheme is run by Local Authorities and provides financial assistance for energy efficiency measures and immediate repairs.
All homeowners and some private landlords are eligible to apply and the scheme is not means tested. Local Councils do however have a severely restricted budget when it comes to grants and are therefore likely to prioritise those with low incomes who need to repair an unsafe property as a matter of urgency.
The Equity Release Scheme is another form of grant offered by Local Authorities, open to over 65s. It is essentially an interest free loan secured against your home which allows you to carry out repairs.
You do not repay any of the money until the property is sold. If your property does not have the required equity upon sale to repay the loan, then you will have to find the shortfall yourself.
The House Proud Scheme is available to homeowners over the age of 55. It is a loan which has to be repaid although it comes with interest rates significantly lower than those on offer from national lenders.
Claim under house insurance
You may be able to claim for the cost of pipe repair and the damages caused by leaking water under your home insurance – although it can be notoriously difficult to extract a payment out of insurance companies.
That is hardly a surprise given that water damage is estimated to cost around £2.5 million in claims every day.
When a burst pipe or plumbing malfunction occurs and you put in a claim, your insurance company will send an adjuster to assess the cause and the cost of the damage and whether you are eligible for a pay out.
If the adjustor decides that the damage is as a result of a long-term problem that was left untreated, then your claim will be denied. If they determine you could have prevented the leak yourself, then you will not receive a pay out. Many claims are rejected by companies citing “wear and tear” or “negligence” as the cause.
To give yourself the best possible chance of an insurance pay out, you should keep your pipes and appliances in good working order. Fix any leaking pipes and minor problems as soon as they occur to prevent an even bigger issue down the line.
Emergency appliance insurance
You can protect yourself against future emergencies with emergency appliance insurance, which will pay out for any unexpected repairs that need to be made to appliances such as boilers.
The average plan costs around £150 a year. Compare that to the £800 cost of a simple boiler repair and the insurance option looks like excellent value.
Alternatively, you could pay a set figure each month into a savings account to build up a war chest to pay for emergency repairs as when they are required. This provides an attractive alternative to emergency insurance as you know that there will be no haggling over a pay out – you control the money, even if the total may be less than that available through an insurance plan.
Insurance and savings might have come too late for you to fund emergency pipe repairs this time, but it is definitely worth considering to cover yourself for next time disaster strikes.
Plumbing repairs if you rent your home
If you rent your home, then you do not have to worry if you cannot afford a plumber – your landlord has a legal obligation to carry out and pay for any structural repairs to the property.
This includes your water pipes, drains, guttering, heating systems and sanitation fittings such as baths and sinks.
Your landlord must also pay to correct any damages caused by structural problems to household decorations such as wallpaper.