Water damage is one of the most common types of property damage, and it can be extremely costly to repair. In fact, according to the Insurance Information Institute, water damage accounts for more than $50 billion in losses each year. That’s why it’s important to have a plan in place to protect your building from water damage. One of the most effective ways to do this is by installing a leak detection system. Keep reading to learn more about how these systems work and why they’re so important for protecting your business from water damage.
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What is a Water Leak?
A leak can be defined as an unintended and uncontrolled release of water. In some cases, the leak is hidden and difficult to locate. For example, a common type of commercial water loss occurs when a roof drain or plumbing line leaks into a wall cavity or underneath the flooring.
Many businesses can’t afford to shut down for days at a time while technicians search for the source of the leak. If you’re lucky, you may only experience a few inches of water on the floor. However, in some cases, businesses can suffer catastrophic losses if the leak is not detected and repaired quickly.
How Do Leaks Occur?
Leaks can occur for a variety of reasons, but some of the most common causes include:
A plumbing leak can occur when a pipe bursts, a valve leaks, or the seal on a fitting fails. This often happens due to corrosion, cracked pipes or seals, a faulty installation process. Frequently, these leaks are hidden and difficult to detect. You won’t know there is a leak until you experience water damage.
If your business suffers from clogged drains, the excess water can cause backups and lead to leaks in your plumbing system. Over time, this may result in significant amounts of property damage. For example, it’s not uncommon for an overflowing toilet to create a water loss of hundreds or even thousands of gallons.
A roof leak can occur when a roofing material fails, the sealant around the roof penetrations wears out, or ice dams form on the roof. Roof leaks can also be caused by faulty flashing or guttering. In all cases, you will need a roof inspection first.
Window leaks can often go undetected until a significant amount of water damage has occurred. This can be caused by faulty window installation, poor flashing or caulking around the window frame, or deteriorating roofing materials.
Sudden and severe weather can cause catastrophic damage to homes and businesses. For example, extreme cold temperatures can freeze water in the pipes of your building’s plumbing system. As the water expands inside the pipes, it will apply pressure on the pipe until it eventually bursts.
Water Heater Failure
A water heater failure can result in significant water damage. In some cases, the water heater may be old or defective and cause extensive damage to your property. Additionally, a water heater that is not cleaned or maintained regularly may cause leaks due to corrosion.
HVAC System Leaks
The HVAC system in a commercial building can experience leaks due to corrosion of equipment, broken pipes, open valves, cracked seals or fittings, solenoid failure on condensate pumps, and more.
How Do I Detect a Leak in My Business?
While you may be able to hear the sound of running water or see standing water in your building, leaks are not always visible. In fact, many times, a leak can occur long before any signs of damage can be seen. Even the most attentive property owners may not notice a leak until it’s too late. Fortunately, there are several proactive steps you can take to protect your business from water damage:
Check Your Water Bills
If you see a sudden increase in your water bill, this could indicate that there is something wrong with your plumbing system. One of the possible reasons for this increase is a hidden leak. Compare your current water bill with previous bills. If you see a substantial increase, it’s safe to assume that you have a leak.
Use Technology to Your Advantage
Leak detection technology has come a long way in recent years and is now more affordable than ever before. By using thermal imaging cameras, acoustic listening devices, or moisture meters, you can quickly and easily detect leaks in your building. These tools allow you to get ahead of potential water damage and will save you time, money, and stress in the long run.
Perform Regular Maintenance Checks
Just as you would perform regular maintenance checks on your car, it’s important to also perform regular maintenance checks on your plumbing system. This includes checking for leaks, cleaning out drains and gutters, inspecting roofing materials, and more. By performing regular maintenance checks, you can help prevent leaks from occurring in the first place.
What Should I Do If I Detect a Leak in My Business?
If you detect a leak in your business, it’s important to take action quickly to minimize the damage. Here are some steps you can take:
Shut off the Water
The first thing you should do is shut off the water at the source. This will help minimize the damage that can be caused by the leak. Depending on your business, you may need to shut off the water at the main supply line or turn off a valve. Contact a plumber to help you identify the shut-off valve when in doubt.
Document the Damage
To file a claim with your insurance company, you will need to document the damage. Make a list of the damaged items, the extent of the damage, and any costs associated with repairing or replacing the items. Take photos or videos of the damage, and keep all receipts related to the repairs.
If possible, try to repair the leak as quickly as possible to prevent further damage. In some cases, this will require calling a professional roofer or contractor who is experienced in repairing commercial plumbing systems and leaks. Never attempt to repair a leak on your own if you lack the experience or proper tools. Moreover, getting someone inexperienced to do the job may only make the problem worse.
What Are the Warning Signs of Water Damage?
Most business owners don’t realize that their commercial property has suffered water damage until it’s too late. The truth is, many signs of water damage can only be identified by a professional using special equipment and techniques. In fact, some types of water damage aren’t even detectable to the naked eye.
If your business has suffered from serious flooding or you suspect that there may be water in places where it shouldn’t be, you need to take action quickly. Some of the most common signs of water damage include:
Water Stains on the Floor or Walls
These types of stains often appear yellow, brown, or gray and may indicate a leak in your roof, windows, doors, plumbing pipes, walls, or flooring. If left unchecked over time, these stains can weaken the structure of your building.
Mold and Mildew
Mold and mildew thrive in damp, dark, and warm areas. If you notice mold or mildew growing on any surface in your business, it could be a sign of water damage. In some cases, this type of fungi may spread very quickly, causing dangerous air quality issues and significant structural damage.
Peeling Wallpaper & Paint
If your wallpaper or paint is peeling, it can be caused by water seeping through the wall or ceiling surfaces over time. If you notice any signs of bubbling, cracking, discoloration in your interior walls or ceilings, it may indicate that there’s water trapped behind the paint or wallpaper.
If you have metal plumbing or fixtures in your business, rust can be a sign of water damage. Rust forms when water combines with oxygen and steel to create a chemical reaction. If left unchecked, this type of corrosion can cause extensive damage to your plumbing system and building structure.
Seepage & Condensation
Water seepage and condensation can cause significant damage over time to your ceilings, walls, insulation, and other areas of your business. If you notice water stains or discoloration on the ceiling or walls, it may indicate a leak. Additionally, if there’s excessive moisture in the air that doesn’t dissipate after several hours, it could be caused by a water leak.
Water on the Floor
While leaking pipes and faucets are apparent signs of a water problem, many business owners often overlook pooled water on the floor as an indicator of damage. This is especially true if they have had a recent flooding incident that resulted in standing water throughout their property. While some areas of pooled water may dry on their own, it’s important to address the issue as soon as possible as it can lead to long-term damage.
Importance of Hiring Professional Leak Detection Services
If you’re unsure whether or not your business has suffered water damage, it’s best to call in a professional leak detection service. These professionals use state-of-the-art equipment to detect even the smallest leaks. Appropriate repairs can then be made before the problem worsens and results in extensive water damage.
Ignoring water damage can lead to serious and costly consequences for your business. By being proactive and hiring a professional leak detection service, you can help protect your property from extensive water damage.