Burst water pipes are a winter-hazard in northern Europe.  But surely we shouldn’t be troubled with the prospect of burst pipes in the heat and humidity of Spain?  This is a cautionary story of leaks and floods with not a drop of water in sight.

If you have a leak you expect to see some water. Don’t you?  Not necessarily, you can be losing gallons of the stuff right beneath your feet.

Sat outside one hot summer’s evening, one of our clients noticed a  muffled whirring noise that seemed to be coming from the water metre. It had made some unusual noises before so she didn’t think a great deal about it until she noticed the same noise the following evening.

With the help of a neighbour they wedged open the metre box.  The water meter was whizzing round for all it was worth but there was no sign of any water.  “It must be a fault with the metre,” thought our client and put it down on her list of ‘to dos’.

Without liquid evidence there seemed to be no imperative for urgent action. Our client was in no rush  to ring the local water company and, when she did, they were in no rush to respond. Several phone calls later a very unenthusiastic gentleman arrived.

He informed her that ‘yes’, the metre was spinning round, that ‘no’ it wasn’t a problem with the metre, in fact it was nothing to do with the water company at all. Somewhere, underground, between the metre and the house there was a leak. And this leak was churning out gallons of water.

You know that feeling when your Spanish is not too good but the expressions, the shrugs of the shoulders and the shakes of the head say it all. There’s a bill coming and you’re not going to like it. “I’d say around 1.000€” our gentleman explained after lots of tapping on his calculator.

Of course, since filling a few virtual oil tankers with water, our client has discovered that this underground unseen rupture of water pipes is not unusual. In fact, the series of plumbers who came round to   estimate the cost of repair were in agreement – nearly every street and urbanisation is at risk. “It’s the ground movement and the nature of the pipes. Happens all the time in properties of a certain age.”

Hardly a reassuring comment. So what can you do if you don’t want to pour your money down the drain? The offer of insurance against just this eventuality came from the water company themselves and was unfortunately just a little after the event. The house insurance were very apologetic but only damage done by the water would be covered. Not damage to her purse.

A piece of advice. If you do experience a leak and it looks like it might be an expensive one, make sure whoever puts it right for you has got the official stamp to do so. If you get it mended by a recognised plumber then you might be able to negotiate a reduction in the bill and arrange to pay it in instalments. Needless to say, our client didn’t do this and paid the full amount.


So,the message behind this cautionary tale:


  1. anything different about your water supply – low pressure, strange noises – anything! GET IT CHECKED
  2. find out if you are insured and take out insurance if you feel you’re at risk
  3. be aware that the pipes from the metre to your house are your responsibility and so is any loss that might occur

Hopefully next year it’ll just be the noise of cicadas she’ll be hearing on those warm summer evenings.