Water damage is a continuing problem for many organisations that own, manage or occupy properties.
When was the last time your organisation carried out a check of all your water pipes? You may be surprised at what you find, and you could save yourself both money and costly business downtime if you were to implement regular checks.
Domestic property insurers have taken major steps in recent years to control the escalating costs of escape of water claims. The commercial sector, however, is still seeing losses in excess of hundreds of thousands of pounds and, in some cases, claims exceed a million pounds.
While escape of water presents many complications, managing the risk could limit the problem for building owners, occupants and managers.
There are a range of factors that could cause an escape of water:
Changing lifestyles can increase water hazards for an organisation or building, especially if the property has been upgraded with additional toilets and showers or air conditioning. Older properties with corroding pipes are a risk – those pipes should be replaced to limit the escape of water risk. If a building has experienced DIY improvements and repairs, it is important to ensure that pipes and fixtures have been installed correctly to prevent serious damage happening in the future.
Water escapes often happen in winter when frozen pipes, left un-lagged, burst during a thaw. The damage can be extensive, potentially affecting walls, floors and furniture, stock and machinery, along with the building itself if the damage is undetected for a while. This type of water escape risk is particularly common in unoccupied properties when the pipes are not regularly warmed through heating. It is important to take extra precautions in colder months to ensure all exposed pipes are appropriately insulated and to carry out regular routine inspections.
Construction and workmanship
Poor building construction can increase the risk of water escape. This includes incorrect installation of modern plumbing methods and the failure of joints in pipework. Human error, such as valves being mistakenly left open prior to changing the water supply system, can also cause a water leak. Your organisation could consider making it mandatory that all installations or repair work should only be carried out by plumbers with appropriate third-party accreditation, such as APHC (Association of Plumbing and Heating Contractors) or CIPHE (The Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering).
How can your organisation limit escape of water risks?
It is important to understand how your organisation can minimise your water escape risk. It only takes some simple preventative measures and a robust plan of action to help minimise risk exposure.
- Ensure regular inspections are carried out on cold water tanks and pipework
- Inspect and maintain sealant around showers
- Repair dripping taps as soon as possible
- Check for dripping or leaking overflows
- Be aware that if heating fails, this may be due to freezing pipes
- Quickly isolate appliances if leaking
- Be aware and do not ignore signs of water leaks
- Ensure emergency call out numbers are available
How technology can help minimise escape of water risks
The use of technology, such as remote meter reading and leak warning devices, can provide real help in identifying water leaks in a supply system. There are also devices that enable water consumption analysis and recognise abnormal usage trends, providing an early warning of water leaks.
Better still, devices can be designed for individual buildings and linked to a smartphone. This enables a notification to be sent if a leak occurs when the property is unoccupied – some devices can also cut off the water supply automatically.
If you need some advice on which insurance cover would be best to protect your property, or if you have any other insurance queries, please get in touch either by calling 01235 868535 or emailing [email protected].
Article source (edited): Zurich Insider