Top Home Disasters Ruining Family Getaways

HomeServe reveals the nation's most frequent post-holiday home disasters.

Summer essentials on a blue background, including a phone, passport, hat and camera

Home disasters put a dampener on 14 million1 bank holiday getaways.

New research commissioned by HomeServe reveals that many holidaymakers are putting off essential pre-vacation maintenance tasks, increasing the possibility of a home disaster.

  • Nearly one in three homeowners ignore pre-holiday home maintenance
  • More than half (52%) have returned from their holiday to at least one ‘home disaster,’ costing more than £300 on average to fix
  • HomeServe engineers offer pre-holiday checklist for essential maintenance tasks

As the May bank holidays approach, a significant number of Brits are preparing for a well-deserved getaway. However, new research commissioned by home assistance provider HomeServe reveals that many holidaymakers are putting off essential pre-vacation maintenance tasks, increasing the possibility of a home disaster.

27% of homeowners admit they don’t perform home maintenance checks before they go on holiday, with 12% saying they ‘don’t think about it’ and 6% relying on others to do the jobs for them. Among these, two in ten (20%) confess to forgetting to unplug appliances before departing, increasing the risk of electrical fires, and 19% overlook checking their water supply systems, potentially leading to water damage in the home.

From flooded floors and electrical malfunctions to unwelcome visits from household pests like ants, flies, or mosquitoes, the consequences of not finding the time to carry out pre-holiday maintenance can be both unpleasant and expensive. Over half (52 percent) of respondents have returned home to encounter at least one "home disaster," with one in ten returning home to find no heating, 8% having no hot water, and 6% facing electrical problems.

Top five most frequent post-holiday home disasters:

  • No heating: 10%
  • No hot water: 8%
  • Electrical issues: 6%
  • Flooding (due to leaking/burst pipes): 6%
  • Pest infestation: 6%     

Furthermore, more than half (55%) of those affected have had to seek professional assistance to rectify their home disasters, incurring an average cost of £354. HomeServe's internal data confirms the issue, showing that callouts rise by as much as 7% immediately after a bank holiday weekend.2

Chris Houghton, Home Expert at HomeServe, says:

"The research highlights the importance of proper home maintenance, especially before embarking on holidays. Simple tasks can make a significant difference in preventing home disasters and ensuring peace of mind while away. We urge homeowners to take proactive steps to protect their homes and avoid the stress and expense of returning to unwelcome surprises."

However, despite the severity of the issue, help is at hand for the 71% (or 26.4 million) of UK homeowners who report taking Bank Holiday getaways: HomeServe has compiled the ultimate checklist of pre-holiday maintenance must-dos:

  1. Check Electrical Appliances: Ensure all non-essential electrical appliances are unplugged to reduce the risk of electrical fires.
  2. Inspect Water Systems: Check for leaks or potential issues with your water supply system to prevent water damage while you're away, if you have concerns, consider turning off the cold water mains supply at the stop tap to your property.
  3. Secure Doors and Windows: Double-check that all doors and windows are locked securely to deter burglars and keep your home safe.
  4. Set Heating and Hot Water: Adjust your heating and hot water settings to avoid issues such as frozen pipes or lack of hot water upon your return, and ensure you’re being as energy efficient as possible.
  5. Arrange for Mail Collection: Ask a trusted neighbour or friend to collect your mail to avoid the build-up of mail, which could signal that your home is vacant.
  6. Consider Home Security Measures: Install timers for lights or invest in a home security system to enhance the security of your property while you're away.
  7. Inspect for Pest Control: Take measures to prevent pests by ensuring there are no food crumbs or open containers left out and consider using pest control methods if necessary.
  8. Notify Trusted Contacts: Inform a trusted neighbour or family member about your holiday plans so they can keep an eye on your property.
  9. Prepare Emergency Contacts: Keep a list of emergency contacts handy in case any issues arise while you're away, including contact information for plumbers, electricians, and other service providers.
  10. Consider Home Assistance Cover: Explore options for home assistance cover, such as those offered by HomeServe, to ensure prompt assistance in case of emergencies.

Notes to editors:

About the research

Unless otherwise stated, data is based on OnePoll commissioned research amongst 2,000 UK homeowners (18+) in April 2024.

For more information, or to arrange a media interview, please contact:

Liam Reeves – Third City

Telephone: 07398 268 187

Niamh Finnie – Third City

Telephone: 07761 669 176

A little bit about HomeServe

As one of the country’s leading home assistance providers, HomeServe has 30 years’ experience looking after UK homes. From plumbing, drainage, boiler, heating, or electrics cover to new boilers and one-off repairs, they're always looking for ways to bring you better care for your home, through their range of products and services. With a nationwide network of Home Experts and a claims line that’s open 24/7, 365 days a year, you can count on us to be there when it matters most.

Diversity and inclusion

HomeServe is proud to promote equality and inclusion through all their partnerships, including Business in the Community, Stonewall, Race at Work Charter and the Business Disability Forum. In recognition of these efforts, they’ve become a signatory of the Race at Work Charter, voted Best Place to Work for Women 2020, achieved accreditation to become a Disability Confident Committed employer and are now ranked in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index. In 2021, HomeServe also earned a place on the list of European Great Places to Work. 

1 According to figures from Avant Homes there are 26.4 million homeowners in the UK. Our survey shows that 52% of homeowners have returned from a holiday to at least one ‘home disaster, which equates to 13.7 million or nearly 14 million.

2 According to HomeServe’s 2023 internal claims data, which shows that after a Bank Holiday weekend, Tuesday callouts rise from 17% on to between 21 - 24% (typical Tuesday versus a Tuesday after a Bank Holiday Monday).