A significant risk to property owners at any level is the reality of a water damage claim. For some reason, these tend to occur at the worst time of the day when you are not expecting them. The intent of this TechTopic is to cover some risk control strategies to reduce your exposures to these type of losses. A little planning and organization will assist in reducing the impact these losses can have.
Hot Water Heating
Provide freeze protection (such as
glycal/water heat transfer fluid) for the hot
water heating system to prevent freezeups,
burst piping, and consequential water
damage. Heating system antifreeze
solution strength should be tested annually
at the beginning of each heating season. The manufacturer’s recommended solution
strength along with the local codes should
be maintained by adjusting or replacement
of the fluid as needed.
Sewer stacks located on your roof are
designed to supply “air behind water”
which allows water to drain freely. these
can become clogged over time due to
leaves, stones and other materials. Sewer
stacks should be cleaned out every five
years or as recommended by your
contractor. This will reduce the risk of
sanitary sewer back-up incidents.
As a precaution, the water supply should
be shut-off in case there is a blockage
during the clean-out procedure. regular
preventative maintenance is needed to
reduce the risk of sanitary sewer blockage
in the future.
Water Shut-Off Valves
Onsite building staff should institute a
program of exercising the main domestic
shut-off valves on an annual basis. in an
emergency situation, a domestic valve
may not be able to close due to lack of
use. By exercising the domestic valves on
a regular basis, the likelihood that a valve
will be able to operate in an emergency is
dramatically increased resulting in reduced
In addition, on-site personnel should know
the location of the main shut-off valves and
have the authority to close these valves in
the event of a leaking pipe. Develop a list
of these valves with a description of where
they are located. Having on-site personnel
know the location of these valves
increases the likelihood that a valve will be
closed promptly reducing the overall
damage to property.
Owners/tenants should provide a ‘home
sitting/checking’ service for any suite
vacated for more than 3 days. many
losses have occurred while
apartments/condos were vacant or
unattended. frequent checking of vacant
premises may reduce the risk of floods,
fires, and other losses.
A condominium manual should be
instituted by the board to document
practices and procedures for building
maintenance, repair history, and service
history for the use by future condominium
directors. regular reviews should be
Sanitary Sewer Lines
Regular preventive maintenance, cleaning
of sanitary sewer lines, and flushing out
storm water drainage systems should be
conducted on an annual basis. this will
reduce the possibility of sewer or storm
water back-up in the units and/or on the
- Inspection of plumbing fixtures
including each suite should be
conducted semi-annually with
deficiencies corrected immediately.
- Blue tablet tests should be conducted
annually to ensure toilets are not
leaking through the flapper or hairline
cracks in the porcelain.
- Enzyme treatment should be
conducted annually to prevent grease
build-up in kitchen sink drainage
- Annual reminders should be sent to
owners not to put grease down sink
Other Water Damage Potentials
Each building will vary as to the individual
exposures to outside water damage
potentials. these too need to be
assessed and when/where possible,
mitigation strategies should be considered.
consider the following:
- Roof drains. Location of the drains,
- Roof membrane or covering. Consider having a roofing contractor
complete a roof assessment of your
building to determine the roof
condition. Leaking at seams and
flashing are typical water entry points.
- Sumps. These should be inspected
and cleaned on a regular basis. this
would also include ensuring the sump
drains are clear.
- Basement drains. These should be
flushed annually to ensure that they
are operating adequately, if/when
needed. in some cases, the
installation of a backflow device on the
basement drains should be considered
to prevent sewage back-up. if
installed, these need to be cleaned
annually as well.
- Landscaping. Landscaping should be
checked to ensure that the pitch for
drainage is away from the building.
Heavy rains will pool the water towards
the building – not a good thing. This
also means ensuring that your down
spouts (including your neighbors) are
pitched away from the building.