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Money Down the Drain: Prevent Water Damage During Construction Projects

The damage caused through the Escape of Water (EoW) is something no construction site manager wants to contend with, but all too often must.

In fact, when it comes to insurance claims, water is still one of the most common – and most costly – issues for construction sites and facilities. James Pecz, global marketing and business development manager at Ramtech, discusses how technology is helping to improve water detection, and how site and facilities managers can embrace these systems to reduce the threat water damage can pose.
Insurance loss data over the past 10 years shows that water damage has become a leading cause of Builder’s Risk claims. Whether from external sources or internal sources, water damage has a significant impact on a construction project. For facilities and site managers, ensuring that any new building or maintenance work can be completed on time and as budgeted is essential. Water damage can easily stop this from happening, as unfortunately not all water issues will present themselves easily.

The silent damage caused by a small, steady drip can wreak havoc for days or even weeks before it is found. Leaks that occur over a weekend or out of hours, also have the potential to go undetected for long periods and can damage walls, ceilings, carpets and other surfaces. The cost of repairs is often high because of the many layers of a building water can reach. In 2020, a report by QBE Insurance Group noted this type of damage was increasing, mentioning a £25m loss at a high-rise block in London where water had escaped from a single, failed joint. EoW impacts all parties, so no one is immune to the devastation.

The industry works to very strict timelines, so much so that there is often a clause on extra time used, so delays are extremely costly for the contractors employed by facilities managers. And perhaps biggest of all, and something that can’t really be quantified, is the reputational damage and impact on working relationships. When any issue strikes, its effects ripple through the supply chain and could put an end to future collaborations. So, what can you do about it? It’s all about prevention. The best protection from water losses is through early detection measures to avoid costly water damage.

Early detection is the best prevention

While digitalisation across the industry is slow, by advancing solutions we can significantly raise the standard for water detection among other challenges and help to prevent future expenses. By leveraging technology, building owners, site and facilities managers, can get a much higher level of protection than with conventional manual processes, or via fixes designed to shut off the mains without identifying the origin of the leak. In most cases, this can be done cost effectively too, with forward-thinking technology that combines detection, communication, documentation, and connectivity, which can all be intertwined once systems can speak to each other.

Water-detecting cable and tape has been a popular modern approach to EoW, with its ability to surround areas most at risk – such as server or plant rooms. Ramtech’s water detection solution for instance can fit around any shape or size of area compared to more bulky sensors. Where facilities are dealing with large water tank storage areas, this may also be a prime location for sensors, particularly as they are often placed at the top or roof level of a building.

To address the out-of-hours problem and to help with more remote locations where leaks are harder to identify, alerts need to also be a priority. As while the water mains can be stopped, being able to have an alert that pinpoints the exact location of a problem enables facilities managers to respond faster. Having traditionally targeted fire and smoke detection for sites, we recently expanded our wireless REACT system to automatically account for water detection. This is achieved by integrating our water-detecting cable and tape with connecting interface and control units, which deliver an automatic 24/7 alert and response system for site personnel, should the worst happen.

Using wireless water detection technology is especially useful as part of the site Water Management Plan, to help meet Construction Insurance Risk Engineers Group (CIREG) requirements. This is in addition to satisfying recommendations from insurers, such as whether the water plan remains active following handover to identify latent defects.

This type of technology has the potential to stretch even further in future too. As a business dedicated to advancing wireless safety technology, we are already looking at waterproof linear heat detection cables, ideal for exposed scaffolding. In addition, there is potential to have environmental, gas and humidity detection, leaving no stone unturned.

By choosing to work with contractors who embrace responsive, wireless water detection technology, site and facilities managers can be reassured that if the EoW does happen, then it can be addressed without delay. With technology advancing this way, the sky is the limit, and it is becoming too costly to work without these methods given the demands of the industry now.

For more information about Ramtech and its new water detection solution visit our new water detection page.