Do you know that water damage is the leading cause of property losses for owners of offices and other commercial properties? According to ServiceMaster, while it is true that water damage is most often caused by major storms and flooding, seemingly minor issues like small leaks cause much greater damage, as they occur more frequently and usually remain unnoticed for a long time. If you’re the owner or manager of a commercial building, this is the ideal opportunity to inspect your Central Florida property for telltale signs of trouble as you prepare for hurricane season, which begins June 1.
Water leaks pose a significant threat to commercial buildings, in particular, as they use much greater amounts of water than residences. For this reason alone, leaks in a commercial building lead to the waste of hundreds of gallons of water per day and can substantially increase the company’s monthly bills. Even worse, some plumbing leaks can cause severe water damage to the building and necessitate expensive repairs. Undetected leaks that occur behind walls and in attic spaces can cause mold – a major health hazard.
Common sources of leaks
Toilets – Toilets in a commercial building are extensively used, especially if it has public restrooms. Eventual wear and tear in the toilet components can lead to leaks. For example, a flapper that doesn’t seal well will cause a leak from the toilet tank drain, and a fill valve that doesn’t properly shut after refilling will constantly waste water through the tank.
Faucets – Because faucets also get extensive use in commercial buildings, wear on components take their toll. Building management and maintenance need to look out for leaking faucets and repair as soon as possible to prevent an increase in water bills and the potential for further damage that results in even more expensive repairs.
Restroom ceilings – Water seepage in multi-story buildings is a common problem – especially from restrooms and other wet areas. Mostly, these leaks occur due to failure of the waterproofing system. When a low-quality or damaged waterproofing membrane is used, it can quickly cause dampness and seepage inside the property from the restroom floor. Damp patches will soon appear on the ceiling below, which can cause mold growth and structural damage if the problem is not addressed quickly.
Roof – A leaking roof is a major structural problem that can cause many safety risks, as well as result in substantial water damage. Roof leaks can occur for the following reasons:
- High winds, hail, torrential rains, etc.
- Clogged gutters.
- Roofing material that’s faulty, was improperly installed, or is worn-out; roofing system has reached its end of useful life.
- Improperly installed or missing flashing.
- Improper sealing of valleys.
- Improper sealing of pipes, drains, and other items that puncture the roof’s membrane.
- Improper installation of skylights or decay in the insulation along the skylights’ edges.
Balconies – Another common source of water leaks in a commercial building is the external balconies. Severe weather conditions, high humidity, airborne salts, temperature fluctuations and atmospheric carbon dioxide can all cause a balcony to leak because of the failure of the waterproofing membrane, poor design of the balconies or inadequate drain slope. A leaking balcony, when left unattended for long, can cause structural damage and is also risky for occupant safety.
Other sources – Deteriorated sewer lines and broken water supply lines can cause extensive water damage to your commercial property. Sewer pipes deteriorate over time, which can lead to leaks. However, detecting sewer line and water supply leaks is challenging because these pipes are underground.
Signs of water leaks in a commercial property
It is important to recognize the evidence of a water leak so you can take action to prevent further damage. Danger signs include:
Underground plumbing leaks – areas of wet soil, places where grass or other plants grow faster; spongy, unstable floors.
Leaking pipes in walls – crumbling plaster, bulging walls, loose or cracked tiles, blistering paint, gaps in the grout, water stains, musty odors, mold patches and higher-than-usual water bills.
Roof leaks, interior signs – water entering the building during heavy rains, damp spots, moist patches, discolored or rust stains on ceilings and walls; moldy/stale odor in the upper floors, mold on attic insulation and ceilings, poor indoor air quality and a decrease in the building’s energy efficiency.
Roof leaks, exterior signs – stained soffits and fascia, cracking paint around skylights or dormer windows, collection of granules in the gutters and curling of shingles.
Catastrophic plumbing leaks can usually be prevented through deployment of water sensors, alarms, notification systems and automatic shut-off valves – all of which can alert you to leaks and potentially hazardous conditions before it’s too late. Installing the proper equipment may also qualify you for discounts from your insurance provider.
What to do in case of a leak
If you’re the owner or manager of a commercial property or multi-unit residential property, having an established relationship with a plumber and a leak detection company is essential. Should you suspect a leak, don’t hesitate to call a professional. Even if you employ someone responsible for building maintenance, that person may lack the experience, skill and/or equipment to adequately detect and repair leaks – especially those that occur in walls and underground.
If you’re a tenant, notify the landlord and, if possible, provide evidence of the problem – such as photos of stained walls, buckling flooring, mold, etc. Whether you’re a commercial or residential tenant, carefully read the terms of your lease before signing to learn which – if any – maintenance and repairs you may be responsible for.
Should you suspect trouble, Certified Leak Detection is experienced in leak detection and repair for Orlando, Longwood, Lake Mary, Sanford, Kissimmee, Clermont and Winter Springs. Trusted by business owners and homeowners throughout Central Florida, our team is ready to answer your call. Contact us for quick, reliable service.