Commercial building owners and managers are frequently troubled by the many ways that water escapes its confines. Dripping, leaking, soaking, spraying, trickling – water damages right out in the open, or silently behind the scenes. It’s insidious, seeping into the tightest crevices and even soaking into hard materials like concrete and tiled flooring. It’s fast: 13 mm of standing water wicks 15 cm up a sheet of drywall in less than three hours and mould growth can begin in just 24 hours. And it’s expensive: water leaks MUST be stopped and moisture MUST be removed. Ignore leaks and the structure – and sometimes its occupants – WILL be harmed.

The best defence? Know the seven places leaks occur most often in commercial buildings and take the right precautions:

Sprinkler system leaks: All automatic sprinkler systems require regular inspections to ensure fire suppression readiness and guard against leaks. Ensure yours receives inspection and maintenance as recommended by the National Fire Protection Association. Between professional visits, visually inspect sprinklers and valves for moisture.

Roof leaks: Here’s another truism of building management: all roofs will eventually leak. As with sprinkler systems, roofs require regular inspection and maintenance to avert leaking. Never ignore leaks inside the building envelope that have no obvious source: a leak in one corner of the building may stem from a roofing defect in the opposite corner that only a professional can locate.

Burst pipes: Gushing pipes are true emergencies that demand immediate and expert assistance from trained mitigation specialists like Paul Davis. To avert these sudden and devastating events, schedule regular plumbing inspections. Between official inspections, visually inspect pipes for moisture, pinholes or drips, all of which can presage bursting.

Sewer clogs: Be alert for telltale signs of sewer clogs such as slow draining, gurgling pipes and trickling sounds when water is not in use. Call a plumber immediately if you suspect a clog; sewer water contains bacteria and other dangerous pathogens. It requires specialized handling and disinfection during mitigation and remediation.

Surface water flooding: Severe weather puts commercial real estate at risk from overflowing waterways and sudden storm deluges. As a building manager, the best defence for this type of flooding: comprehensive insurance and 24/7 mitigation and restoration contractors like Paul Davis. Check policies now. 

Melting ice/snow: Incorrect snow removal is a surprising source of building leaks. Talk to snow removal contractors about clearing snow properly and promptly from entrances and foundations. Locate the safest areas for snow storage: downhill from buildings. Clear gutters and downspouts and point them away from buildings to safely drain and channel roof snow melt.

Malfunctioning equipment: Old water heaters, leaky dishwashers, aging toilet valves and worn washing machine hoses can all flood building spaces. Regular replacement, inspection and maintenance are the best way to avoid these leaks. Additionally, building occupants should report equipment trouble promptly.

Confronting a leak at your commercial property despite regular inspections and maintenance? Paul Davis is on call 24/7/365 to help your business clean up and thoroughly dry out.