Leaks can cause expensive havoc in both domestic and commercial settings so having an early warning sensor is of the utmost importance, says Krystian Zajac.
05 August 2019 | Krystian Zajac
Small undetected leaks from pipework or faulty appliances cause serious damage to UK properties. More than two-fifths of the UK population (44 per cent) have experienced a leak in their home that has gone undetected for 12 days on average.
The impact of hidden leaks can be severe in the home, but in a commercial environment perhaps even more so. In an office, hidden leaks can affect business productivity and in retail spaces, they can damage stock and trigger a loss of trade.
There is a lot involved when dealing with a water leak in a commercial building: hiring an inspector, repairing the damage and sorting out insurance are just a few of the obstacles. However, there are technologies available that can detect a leak as it happens or can prevent a leak before it has caused any significant damage.
Audible battery-powered sensors
- can be fitted in almost any location; and
- easy to install.
- Require regular battery changes; and
- alarm type is not ideal for shared spaces as someone needs to be near the device to hear the alert.
Best suited to: a small facility that isn't shared.
Wall outlet-powered sensors
These sensors can be integrated with a building management system and include a text messaging service.
- Easy to install; and
- reasonably priced.
- Susceptible to power cuts; and
- require an expert to be available at any time so they can manually shut down the water supply if needed.
Best suited to: a commercial property that has a qualified individual at hand 24/7 to be able to respond to an alert and deal with the leak accordingly.
- Cloud technology pulls in data from all units to a single portal monitored by building operators.
- Must be placed at the sites of potential leaks such as sinks, air conditioners, toilets and more, which can be difficult to achieve in a large shared space facility.
Wireless and automated battery powered sensors
This is the best option because these sensors:
- Are fitted easily;
- don't have complicated wiring; and
- give FMs the option to shut off water supply automatically.
Note that this feature won't be the right fit for most FMs given that sprinkler systems in commercial properties need to have a constant water supply. This is why these systems also give users - both FMs and selected company employees - the power to control water supply through an app.
The most up-to-date devices in this category monitor water use and then spot anything unusual using AI algorithms. When the system detects irregular water activity, an alert is sent to an app or by text to automatically shut off the water supply to prevent damage.
There are different forms of this technology in the market, but it is worth investing in a top-of-the-range one that has features such as AI detection and functionality even without a Wi-Fi signal.
For any of the above systems, FMs will still need to perform regular operational checks to ensure that sensors are maintained and functioning well. There is no doubt that leak sensor technology can support FMs but selection, as expected, depends on the type of commercial property.
Krystian Zajac is founder and CEO of Hero Labs