How to Prevent Water Losses in Your Business
Water losses in a business can be a devastating blow. Not only can it be costly, but it can slow or even shut down your business while mitigation and repairs are in progress. Whether it's sending employees home for the cleanup or losing equipment and records, water damage will inevitably cause your business to take a hit. So how do you keep your business from being a target of water damage?
For starters, determining where water damage might come from can really help to prevent water damage in the workplace. Check any appliances in your business. Dishwashers, refrigerators, washing machines, and air conditioning units should be checked often. Appliances that produce condensation often rust, increasing the chances of a leak. Water supply hoses may also develop leaks and should be checked as well. Pipes and drains should be kept clear of clogs and stoppages to prevent overflowing appliances and sewage backups. Kitchen sinks can become stopped up by grease and roots can grow into pipelines and sewage lines, creating stoppages and clogs. In the winter, pipes can freeze, burst, and cause damage to the building and any contents inside. Roofing should be checked for any missing, damaged, or deteriorating roofing materials. Inadequate attic insulation and ventilation can also speed up the process of a roof’s decay and contribute to the formation of ice dams. Ice dams can cause water damage to ceilings, walls, and floors through a leaky roof.
So now that you know the usual suspects of water damage, how can you help to prevent a water loss? For interior problems, examine your equipment and appliances. If you see something that worries you, it’s time to do something about it. There are many things you can do to prevent water losses. Making sure water supply hose connections are secure to things like dishwashers, ice makers, refrigerators, washing machines, and other appliances can save money and prevent water losses related to leaks or faulty connections. Check and replace washing machine hoses every 3-5 years or sooner if they’re bulging, cracking, or show signs of other deterioration. Consider replacing rubber hoses with stainless-steel braided hoses for increased durability and longevity. For additional peace of mind, consider a stainless-steel braided hose with a built-in auto-shutoff mechanism. Re-caulking and re-grouting sinks, showers, and tubs and replacing leaking shower pans and loose or missing tiles can help prevent water from seeping into places it shouldn’t. Follow the recommended maintenance procedures for all appliances and equipment. This includes periodically draining a portion of the water out of the water heater to flush out the sediment in the bottom of the tank. Regular maintenance should also be performed on your HVAC system to prevent deposit clogs in the air conditioner pan drain lines. When the weather turns cold, a trickle of water from both hot and cold faucets may help prevent frozen pipes. Another good idea is to open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls. It’s also highly recommended you insulate pipes that are exposed to freezing temperatures or drafts, such as those located in garages and basements to help reduce the chance of leaks from frozen pipes.
There are some things you can do to the exterior of your business as well to prevent water damage. If your roof has sustained damage, hire a professional roofing contractor to repair deteriorating or damaged roofing materials promptly. Keep your gutters, downspouts, and eaves clear of debris. Downspouts should extend away from the building to carry water away from the foundation and prevent flooding of areas close to the house that can erode and leak into the foundation and basements. Adding insulation and ventilation to the attic can extend the life of a roof and reduce the chances of ice dams that can cause water to back up under roofing. The insulation should be in good shape and attic vents should be clear. Most insulation materials can last more than 50 years if they’re installed and maintained well. The thickness and material type can impact their effectiveness as well. Adding or replacing insulation may be needed to gain a higher efficiency, especially in colder climates. Improper installation, moisture, UV rays, and disturbance can all negatively impact the effectiveness of insulation. If your business has outdoor hose connections, remove hoses from hose bibs in the fall and turn off the water supply to hose bib connections to help minimize the chance of a burst pipe due to freezing. To help keep an eye on these or other trouble spots, you may want to consider installing a commercial water leak detection system.