You might be surprised to learn that water damage is one of the most common reasons that businesses have to make insurance claims. Shockingly, water leaks in commercial properties are far more common than you might think. According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), escape of water claims for commercial properties is costing UK insurers over £1 million – a day. A stark reminder to check the terms and conditions of your insurance policy.
Major insurance companies report a significant volume of commercial water damage claims, some of which run to over seven figures. They are not only expensive but cause considerable disruption to the companies they affect, not to mention the extra stress they put on you as a business owner and your employees. The worst thing is, that reliance on old technology, concealed infrastructure, and dependence on manual monitoring and intervention means that often leaks are not spotted until it’s too late, and the damage is done.
If you find water bills are rising it’s a tell-tale sign that you have a leak somewhere in your business property. Finding a water leak isn’t always easy, so we’ve put together a step-by-step guide to help you out. But as you can imagine, by the time you realise a leak has occurred the expensive damage has probably already been done.
And if you don’t believe us, talk to the owners of a new technology project which suffered nearly £3 million worth of damage when a frozen pipe burst and destroyed key hardware in a critical development lab. Or the hotel that suffered water damage on the 18th floor of a recently developed high-rise complex that resulted in nearly £4 million lost income and repair costs. Or contact the owner of the multi-tenant high-rise that suffered nearly £6 million of water damage when a pressure relief valve coupling failed.
With stories like these becoming far too well-known to insurance companies, smart business owners are looking at prevention rather than cure when it comes to water leaks, and we’re keen to help you do the same. We’ve got some great tips that might just save you a whole lot of money (and time) in the future. Here are eight, simple to execute, top tips to prevent water leaks in your company property.
# 1 Call In The Professionals
We don’t doubt your DIY skills one little bit, but when it comes to preventing water leaks in your commercial property the plumbing is best left to the professionals. Offices, restaurants, etc often have more complex plumbing systems to deal with the needs of larger numbers of people, and the pipework may well run through hard to get to spaces. If you’re having new appliances fitted or require old systems to be serviced, our advice is to use a professional. That way, you can leave them to do what they’re good at and you can save your precious time for the running of your business. It’s a win, win!
#2 Check, Check And Check Again
Where possible, regularly check the pipes where appliances are plumbed in for any looseness, leaks, or drips. In areas where pipes are covered but that you still have access to (e.g. behind removable panels) it’s a good idea to take a look every now and again to make sure there aren’t any small leaks that could become major. Completing a regular visual check should alert you to any possible problems so that you can call in the professionals for help!
# 3 What Goes Down The Drain Might Come Back Up
Blocked drains are a big cause of water leaks, and in a commercial property being used by many it’s hard to regulate what goes down the drain. Make sure that you clean drains regularly, even if you don’t suspect a blockage. Substances such as fats and oils from cooking, baby wipes, sanitary products, and even hair can all cause clogs in drains and toilets. Consider putting up warning stickers in high-use areas to make sure people remember what substances shouldn’t go down the drain, and ensure bins in these areas are emptied regularly and are clearly visible to encourage customers or employees to use them appropriately.
# 4 Shut Down The Water In Unoccupied Properties
If your company’s property is being left vacant for long periods of time, such as over the Christmas holidays, it’s worth shutting off the water supply when it’s safe to do so. This will prevent leaks from occurring while the building is empty. A simple way to minimise risk is to turn off the stopcocks when the building is left empty for several weeks (just remember to turn them back on again when you return!) If you’re leaving the building over times of the year when it’s likely to freeze then consider running taps dry too to minimize the risk of pipes freezing (see more on this below).
# 5 Invest In A Smart Leak Detector
The ultimate tool in water leak prevention and one of the number one devices you should consider investing in for your business property is a smart leak detector. Smart leak detectors do a whole lot more than simply detect leaks.
Sonic monitors water usage within your building 24/7. It learns about the water usage patterns in your building so it can immediately identify anything unusual and alert you. It knows the difference between a surge in water usage caused by a factory shift starting work, or a weekly deep clean, and an unexpected leak.
When it detects an unusual change in usage patterns it automatically alerts you via a smartphone app, at which point you can decide whether to remotely turn off the water to the affected area. You can also set it up so that it will automatically shut the water off itself if a human isn’t available to make the decision.
Of course, not all leaks are catastrophic burst pipes. In fact, most organisations are wasting massive amounts of water through small, incremental leaks. Things like dripping taps, toilet cisterns that don’t refill properly, leaking pipes due to poor quality installation of equipment, and other smaller leaks. Whilst these kinds of leaks may not cause the same disruption and huge expense that a burst pipe or similar disaster can cause, they add up over time and can cost your company thousands.
Sonic uses cutting-edge HD ultrasonic technology to detect even the smallest leaks so that you can become a completely leak-free premise. Not only will your company be saving money but you’ll be entitled to great eco-friendly company bragging rights, and saving the planet sells!
# 6 Stay On Top Of Maintenance
A great way to prevent water leaks in your company property is by staying on top of maintenance on the outside of your building. As we’re worried about the water leaks occurring inside properties we often neglect the very real risk of water getting in from outside. Things like leaking roofs due to worn or damaged tiling, caulking sealant around windows and doors, or blocked gutters can all cause water damage to properties. Again, it’s probably best to leave outside maintenance to the professionals!
# 7 Stopcocks
Know where these are (you’d be surprised how many people don’t!) and make sure that you test them regularly as they often seize up. If there is an escape of water/water leak in your home, turning off the stopcock as soon as possible will help to limit the level of damage caused It might not prevent the initial leak, but servicing your stopcocks regularly might well prevent significant damage to your business property.
As we mentioned above, if you’ve invested in a Sonic smart meter then stopping the water flow is as simple as a touch of a button on your smartphone. Sonic will even automatically take care of shutting off the water supply for you when it detects a leak, which is especially useful if you can’t get to the property straight away to investigate.
# 8 Get Familiar With The Forecast
Frozen pipes are a big cause of water leaks and the resulting damage they cause. When temperatures in your area start to drop it’s time to take action before the risk of freezing pipes catches up with you. It’s a good idea to insulate pipes and water tanks, especially in places like attics. You can also leave the heating on overnight if you suspect a cold spell approaching – just set your thermostat at 12-15C when you’re away from the property. This keeps the air inside warm to help stop internal pipes from freezing. Open cabinet doors and loft hatches to allow warm air to circulate around pipes under sinks or in the attic.
If you don’t fancy checking the forecast religiously at colder times of year then let Sonic do the hard work for you. Sonic monitors the temperature of your business properties pipes and alerts you when it predicts a risk of freezing, giving you plenty of time to put preventative measures into place.
We hope this article has given you some valuable tips when it comes to preventing water leaks in your company property. If you’re looking into prevention rather than cure when it comes to water damage then you’ve certainly got the right idea, and you’re already ahead of the curve.