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It may not be something you seriously consider when you’re paying your water bills, but a water leak can spiral from a minor inconvenience to reeking potentially devastating effects on your business and your finances, when you take into account escalating bills and serious property damage.When you bear in mind the potential consequences of bad plumbing or faulty pipes, it soon becomes obvious that it’s not one of those things that you can afford to ignore. Overpaying for wasted water can be the least of it, when you consider other potential effects, such as ceilings or walls caving in and serious structural damage to your property.
Sometimes, you’ll be aware of the problem straight away, with water marks on your walls or ceilings or damp patches alerting you that’s something’s wrong. However, sometimes it’s a problem that can go unnoticed until it’s too late, with the only obvious signs of anything wrong rising water bills and, with water bills a list of confusing payments and costs that you may not fully understand or analyse, any rising costs can still potentially go unnoticed.
Luckily, there are plenty of services that, at little cost to your business, can identify any water leaks and address and solve the problem before there’s any damage to your property. You can even relinquish control of your water bills and have both your usage and costs monitored so any potential problems are caught and addressed right away, saving you hassle and money.
So when it comes to water leaks and how to solve the problem, here’s what you need to know.
What Is a Water Leak?
Whether it’s caused by a faulty plumbing system or a combination of age and weather causing pipes to corrode, a water leak is a simple enough problem that causes water to escape from the tank or pipes. As pipes can deteriorate with age or be affected by anything as simple as the weather or even heavy vibration from the traffic outside your property, it’s a common problem and can happen to anyone. As most of the pipes are located either inside walls or under the flooring, any leak can cause huge problems with the water causing everything from mould to grow to structural damage. Thus, if you think you have a leak, it’s important to identify and fix it straight away before too much damage can be caused.
Where Can a Water Leak Occur?
One of the main problems with water leaks is that they can occur in any piping system. As pipes are often found in the walls, under the floors or buried underground outside of our properties, it can be difficult to locate the exact location of a leak without having the right equipment. On top of that, fixing the problem without excavating the property is also going to require the right tools and experts to do so efficiently with minimal damage to the property. If you also take into consideration how easy it can be to miss a leak if there aren’t any noticeable signs given the potential location of the leak, you get more of an idea about how this could easily escalate.
How Does It Affect Business Costs?
As most water is metered, our water bills and the costs incurred are thus determined by the amount of water we use. A water leak can cause a huge wastage that will then translate into bigger bills. It’s not uncommon for people to spot a problem when they suddenly see a spike in their water bills. A water leak can cause you to waste a huge amount of water without even realising, which will be reflected in your bills. And as our utility bills can often include a vast number of costs and standing payments we accept and pay without fully understanding, the added cost of a water leak can easily go unnoticed without us realising what it is we’re paying out for.
On top of that, costs can go way beyond your monthly utility payments when you take into consideration the possible damages to your property a water leak can cause. Hopefully, if you do spring a leak, it will be discovered and dealt with before it can do any more damage than causing some of your paint to peel in damp spots or cause a bit of an odour from your drains from the collection of stagnant water.
This kind of damage is minimal and shouldn’t be overly expensive to fix. However, it can also cause problems that may go unnoticed and cause serious problems and expenses down the line. They may not even be things you would necessarily have thought of or associated with a leak, but can cause lasting damage. For example, it can cause fungal growth to develop and fester, which in turn can be incredibly bad for you to breathe in, so can cause lasting health issues down the line. If this occurs on a business property where you have employees working, it can cause issues for a number of people.
On top of that, there’s the damage to your property to consider. This could be on a small-scale, superficial basis, such as damage to your paintwork or damp patches appearing on your ceilings or walls. However, the ramifications can also be more far-reaching than that. A water leak can result in serious structural damage being caused to your property. For example, it’s not uncommon for more extreme cases to result in anything from a ceiling caving in to the walls collapsing. In such circumstance when the structural damage is too far gone, the costs to repair the damage can be astronomical and totally unforeseen.
In other words, the potential business costs of a water leak go far beyond higher utility bills!
How to Detect a Water Leak
For the most part, this is something you’re going to need to call in professional help for. As mentioned already, the pipes that often spring a leak are usually located in areas that you may not be able to reach yourself without utilising a sledgehammer and doing some serious damage along the way. For the least non-invasive work possible that will provide a long lasting solution, calling in professional help is going to be a necessity.
- A permanently leaking toilet.
- A bad smell coming from the floor or near a drain. This is caused by stagnant water that is collecting as a result of the leak and is unable to flow away.
- Damp or darker patches on your walls or ceilings.
- Cracks or spots on your walls.
- Paintwork peeling or bubbling.
- A constant sound of dripping or running water.
- A sudden surge in your utility bill.
Methods of Water Leak Detection
Aside from the aforementioned warning signs that you might have sprung a leak, there are a number of techniques that can be utilised by professionals in order to detect a water leak.
The equipment used will be able to locate a water leak through walls or floorboards without excavating the pipes, so you can rest assured that the exact location of the leaky pipe will be discovered with minimal damage done to your property finding it. From here, it can then also be fixed in the least invasive way possible, minimising any other potential further damage that could occur.
Most importantly, this initial process can be done at minimal cost to your business and potentially save you a fortune on any future repairs you may otherwise have to do down the line. Early detection of the leak is therefore crucial to saving you money, time and a huge amount of hassle, so if you think you might have a leak, it’s well worth calling in specialist help before it develops into something more serious. At the very least, you might make a saving on your water bills, which is no bad thing.
Some of the forms of water leak detection include the following:
Water Leak Detection Equipment and Techniques
Ground microphones are the most common equipment used to detect and locate a water leak. As mentioned before, if you do have a water leak, there’s often an audible sign of it, whether you can hear water running or simply a drip. The ground microphones work to amplify this sound, making it much easier to ascertain whether or not there is a problem. Not only this, but they are then able to use the noise to identify the exact location of the leak so it can be efficiently repaired without having to destroy the surrounding area trying to pinpoint it.
The technology involved with ground microphones is so advanced that it can even be used through thick walls or floorboards, with its wide range allowing for large areas to be examined at once. Something that just can’t be said for pressing your ear against the wall in the vague direction of the drip.
L.N.C – Leak Noise Correlation
The Leak Noise Correlation (or L.N.C.) technique, as the name suggests, once again uses the sound of the leak to find its exact location, with the correlators used to pinpoint the exact location. These correlators use sensors that mark out the area the leak is thought to be in; the technology can then be calibrated to commute all the possible variables that need to be taken into consideration, including the size of the pipe and the material it’s made from and the distance between the sensors. Once they have located the sound of the leak, they will then transmit all the information gathered onto a screen and calculate the exact location of the leak. This method can then be used to find multiple leaks on a single pipe, scanning a huge amount of space.
Water Leak Detection Tracer Gas Techniques
It’s also possible to use gas to help identify any potential problems. In these cases, a combination of nitrogen and hydrogen gas is injected into the mains. If there is a leak, the gas will then escape from the faulty areas of the pipe. A gas detector is then used to help identify the source of the problem and locate the exact places that the gas is leaking from. This process can be repeated in a number of different areas until all the potential sources of leaks have been properly identified.
Water Leak Detection Report – Click an image to enlarge
Water Leak Repairs
When you discover a water leak on your property, it can be tempting to attempt to deal with it yourself as a DIY project or get help from a handyman for the work. However, please don’t try and take this on yourself; in situations like these, it really is a time when you need to call in a specialist to help in order to ensure the work is done properly and won’t cause further problems in the future.
Though you may think the leak is easily located and accessible, they can often be hard to pinpoint and the damage then done to the property trying to get to the faulty pipe can be extensive.
A specialist will be able to excavate the problem area properly and efficiently, causing minimal damage to your property and take care of the problem. In cases such as when pipes are located underground or in the structure of your property, the peace of mind of knowing you’ve had the job done properly is essential.
When you call in specialist help to deal with the water leak, the repair process will usually take place in stages.
First, you’ll need to supply your water bills so the company get can an idea of your water usage and how much has been wasted, in order to ensure that a water leak is definitely the problem. From here, it will also be possible for them to work out the money you have lost from the leak, with a report on the findings then sent to you.
Then, using the technology already mentioned, they’ll carefully survey your property to locate the exact area of the leak, whilst causing minimal damage. Once the leak has been found and identified, it can then be quickly and expertly repaired. By the end of the process, you shouldn’t even be able to see any damage or difference to your property as a result of the work, saving you further money on repairs.
So when it comes to seeking professional and expert help, the results will end up saving you money and giving you the peace of mind that quality work has been done, that won’t need redoing a few months down the line.
Depending on your priorities, the environmental impacts of the water wasted during a water leak may not even feature on your radar when you first spring a leak. And given this could lead to your ceiling falling in and/or astronomical costs, you’d be forgiven for letting this slide to the bottom of the list.
However, water as a fundamental and finite resource and the implications of this is something we all need to wake up to and gain a better understanding of, in order to help maintain a planet for us and future generations. Running out of water is not something we tend to think about in the same scale as say, using up the earth’s supply of oil. But the planet only has a limited source of water and, with rapid population growth and increasing life expectancy putting a strain on the planet’s resources, the supply of water the planet has is already being heavily drawn on to the point where an end of this resource is a realistic and worrying prospect. In fact, to put this into context, experts suggest that, over the past 50 years, our water usage has doubled. If we keep using it at this rate, it is thought that by 2030, our requirements for water will stand at a whopping 40% above what is currently available to us. With drought becoming an ever increasing problem for countries across the world, the implications are only becoming ever more dire.
Of course, with horror stories of freak weather storms causing homes to be flooded and evacuated across the country, it’s easy to forget that water isn’t an infinite resource, but one we need to take care of. But the truth is, if we don’t all accept a greater responsibility for it soon, we’re going to find ourselves without. The impetus is on us not only as individuals, but as companies and corporations. If anything, it’s up to businesses to take more of a responsibility for water usage and ensure that it’s used efficiently and environmentally.
So, when you take into consideration of the water being wasted by a leak, without you even benefiting from it, it becomes suddenly more important on a different scale.
Other Alternatives To Keeping On Top Of Your Water Usage And Potential Leaks
Of course, it wouldn’t be fair to give you a look at the worst possibilities arising from a dodgy pipe you may not even be aware of and not give you alternatives to calling in a potential faulty leak every couple of months on the off chance you’re plumbing’s off and about to incur you huge costs.
Luckily for everyone, there are services available that can keep on top of your water usage and wastage for you, identifying where you’re overusing and overspending and reporting back to you on where you can afford to use less and save money. Not only will this help you keep the costs and water wastage down, but it will also help identify any possible leak before it becomes an issue for you or your business.
Here are some of the other services available to help you out when it comes to your water usage.
A water audit may not necessarily immediately conjure the greatest implications, but in reality, it’s a simple and easy process that will incur you little time or cost and could, in the long run, end up saving you a lot of money.
A water audit works by analysing your current usage, standing fees and costs you’re paying out for. All that is required is that you supply the auditors with the past six months water bills and, from here, they will detail a thorough analysis which could result in you making huge savings.
Water Bill Validation
Water bill validation is a step on from a water audit that helps to make sure that you consistently pay the right amount for your water usage. With experts estimating that 1 in 10 water bills is incorrect, it’s entirely possible that you are paying out for charges that you shouldn’t be.
The process works by professionals monitoring and analysing your water bills so they know how much you’re paying out and what on. From here, they can then identify any areas that you’re paying excess amounts on.
Our on-going process will help to make sure that you’re paying out only for the water you’re using, so you can be confident that it’s always the right amount and that you’re not seeing unwarranted excess charges.
Switch Water Supplier
You wouldn’t necessarily think that switching your water supplier would help in situations such as a water leak or helping to prevent one, but this is another option available that can do just that. If you live in Scotland, this applies to you.
More reading about the Scottish Water Industry – http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Topics/Business-Industry/waterindustryscot
A motion was passed in 2008 that non-household consumers would be able to switch from their water suppliers, it has turned the Scottish water service into a competitive market, which directly equates into a better service for cheaper prices for the customers.
How does between 10-18% savings sound? Get in touch to find out more.
If you’re concerned about your water usage, whether it’s because of a potential water leak or simply to keep on top of you water efficiency, hiring a water consultant is an excellent way to keep track of how much you’re using, how efficiently you’re using it, the money you spend on your water bills and any potential wastage or water leaks as soon as they come up.
Water consultants effectively cover all the possible areas mentioned above, to give you the most inclusive service possible that will cover every base.
AMR – Automatic Meter Reading
If you’ve had a water leak identified and fixed, or you simply want to make sure that you’re on top of your water use, AMR (or Automatic Meter Reading, also known as Smart Metering) is well worth taking into consideration as a form of after care that will help monitor the situation and ensure that any further problems down the line are identified and dealt with quickly and efficiently.
AMR basically equates to online water management. It works by monitoring your water consumption, which is then sent back to a reporting service that is based on the web, so that any unusual or excess water use or water leaks can be spotted immediately. This service then has the potential to save you a lot of money, not only by possibly identifying any costly problems like a water leak quickly before they can cause any further damage or expense.
It’s important to remember that whether it’s down to old or faulty pipes, or simply the weather or vibration from heavy traffic having a corrosive effect on plumbing systems, a water leak can easily develop and happen to anyone, so if you’re in any doubt about your plumbing system, make sure you get it checked out sooner rather than later.