Water Damage Causes in Commercial Buildings

Water Damage Causes in Commercial Buildings

Properties incur water damage when their structures and contents are exposed to water that is left to sit without proper intervention. Water damage can occur with any scale of water ingress, from small leaks to substantial flooding. Damages may include rotting, warping, staining, asset loss, and mould growth. It is very important that all staff are able to identify, and easily report, any indications of water damage in your workspace.

*Holiday periods are high risk because there is often less staff in the building to observe any leaks, floods, or other events.

Leaking Pipes and Plumbing Issues

Leaking pipes and plumbing issues can be a major problem, especially in commercial buildings which are typically a lot larger than residential homes. High water bills aside, a leaking pipe can lead to significant structural damage for all of the reasons listed above – rotting, warping, staining, and mould growth.

Water pipes often look durable and airtight but can give in to excessive pressure or be destroyed by construction-related activities. So, what should you look out for if you are concerned about leaking pipes or notice some unexplained moisture in your office space?

What to look out for

You do not have to be a plumber to recognise the signs of a leaking pipe.

  • Discolouration – countertops, walls, floors, ceilings,
  • Bubbling of paint or wallpaper,
  • Surfaces that are warped and/or spongey to the touch,
  • Water puddles,
  • Dampness,
  • Rotting floorboards or counter tops,
  • Damaged caulking,
  • Increase in the water rates
  • Mould growth,
  • A musky smell – another indication of mould growth

These are all signs that your offices, or place of work, may be suffering from damaged plumbing. We recommend alerting all staff to these signs so that the entire team can be on alert. It is also important that everyone knows who to report to should they identify any potential leaks.

Faulty Appliances

Faulty appliances are another cause for water damage in commercial buildings and can present a considerable health risk. Items of risk often includes common white goods such as dishwashers, refrigerators, and water dispensers. This list, however, can also extend to any number of the commercial grade appliances found across our vast variety of workspaces.

Faulty appliances can start with something as simple as an inconsequential drip but may lead to power shorts and significant mould growth. If the fault is severe enough it may, someday, ‘spontaneously’ unleash a torrent a water when it finally reaches breaking point. This is will, of course, lead to far more substantial water damage.

What to look out for

There are a number of ways to discern if your office’s appliances need attention.

  • Be vigilant and record any noticeable leaks, damp patches, or malfunctions,
  • Perform regular maintenance checks. These can be conducted in-house, through the supplier of the good, or a third-party service provider.
  • Do not use appliances that appear to be having technical issues. Make sure that they are clearly marked with a warning for other staff members and report the problem immediately.
  • Take advantage of warranties and be mindful to only use the appliance for its intended purpose.

HVAC Issues

Problems with your HVAC can lead to water damage. Condensate water in your HVAC system is harmful for your commercial building. It can be a result of overflow or leak in the collection pan. This is often difficult to detect until it needs repair. Issues may include flooding and destruction of the HVAC equipment and it can lead to corrosion and replacement of the system. Mould remediation may also become necessary.

What to look out for

If you suspect that your HVAC system is acting up, look for the following signs and contact a professional service provider for a proper diagnosis.

  • You are experiencing restricted or low-quality airflow.
  • There are obvious signs of water damage and leaking ducts.
  • The system is failing to cool the property.
  • The heat pump is running without ever turning off.

HVAC and AC systems need constant maintenance and cleaning. Usually, the installation company will send you scheduled reminders so make sure you take advantage of this service. If this is not the case, seek out an alternative cleaning and maintenance company.

Natural Disasters

Natural disasters like heavy thunderstorms and flooding can lead to severe water damage. Commercial buildings have a greater risk of sustaining water damage when everyone has left for the day or over weekends.

Water ingress, even on a small scale can lead to rotting, warping, staining, and asset loss. It can also leave the building smelling strongly of mould or refuse. This greatly impacts staff productivity and makes a bad impression for any clients or guests visiting the site.

How to plan

  • Make sure that all staff know to close any windows, skylights, etc. before leaving for the day.
  • Assign a staff member to step up in case of emergencies
  • Have the phone number of a plumber, restoration company, and insurer at hand, e.g. a magnet on the fridge.

What can you do if your commercial building floods?

Commercial water damage is devastating as it interrupts business, can result in huge financial losses if not attended to immediately, and greatly impacts productivity. You must take necessary steps to avoid water damage or lessen its effects. As with any emergency, the key is to act quickly and deliberately.

We recommend assigning a designated a employee, usually a manager, to have the authority to take the necessary steps after a flood or water damage. The designated employee should know who to contact in the event of a flood emergency as well as the location of water shut-off valves so that the water source can be cut off immediately in the event of a burst pipe.

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