Make some water checks ahead of the cold weather this winter

Mark Taylor, Water Plus’s Advanced Services Project Manager and leak detection expert, shares his top tips to help protect your business operation and prevent it grinding to a halt from avoidable water supply losses.
 
We’ve already seen temperatures drop in 2019, so it’s really important to take stock of how prepared your business is - ahead of the coldest months of the year - to keep water flowing at your site.
 
Latest research by YouGov, which Water Plus commissioned to help organisations, has found just 34% of large businesses - with more than 250 employees - and 11% of small and medium-sized businesses have plans in place to mitigate a water outage. Almost half (46%) of 390 larger organisations questioned – and 39% of those that employ under 250 people – also said they had a supply disruption in the 12 months leading up to the survey.

Many do not realise that pipe bursts at business sites can happen even during mild winters. It’s how quickly the temperature change happens in a day that can cause a pipe to fracture – not always how low the thermometer plummets.
 
So, it’s important not to delay and make a plan for your business today. Here’s 8 key things to consider.

1. Understanding your business water system is key

Understanding your water infrastructure will save you precious time if an incident happens. As a minimum, I would suggest your facilities or property managers know where to find stop taps and look out for any weak points in the system like loose fittings. Small leaks like drips from taps or a leaking cistern can stack up – resulting in additional costs, which you can avoid with regular checks.
 
Many organisations simply aren’t aware they are responsible for the maintenance and repair of the water infrastructure within the boundaries of their premises, from the point of the water meter. Businesses or organisation will be charged for water delivered to their site, even if’s lost in a leak.

 2. Regular leak checks

Obviously this isn’t something you’d want to do every day but I’d recommend making checks as often as possible.

A burst pipe can lead to the loss of as much as 1,000 litres an hour, which could cost as much as £26,000 a year, if left unattended. 
 
Spotting a leak:

  • Has your water bill increased for reasons you do not understand? Check out the 4-step guide on what you can do to check for leaks.
  • Has there been a drop in the water pressure?
  • Are there any visible signs of a leak around pipes or on exterior walls?

If your operation is running 24/7, then it may be hard to identify smaller leaks as water will be continually used, but you can help identify potential areas where you could save money or use less water by installing data loggers or undertaking water use analysis and benchmarking against similar sector properties.

3. Consider the heating at sites

Shutting down your premises’ heating system completely could increase your risk of a frozen pipe. Leave the heating on a low setting and you’ll reduce this risk.

4. Check the weather

Ensure your business is ready for cold spells, particularly across the early months of 2020, by insulating tanks, cisterns and external pipework. A burst pipe is damaging and inconvenient and will inevitably cost you money to repair and possibly loss of revenue. Real-time weather updates can help you stay one step ahead. If you know what’s to come, you can plan accordingly.

5. Keep in touch

Make sure the correct people within your business are easily contactable. The longer a leak goes unreported, the more damage it can do.

6. Make a contingency plan

Preparing for the worst will mean you’re ready for any situation. Don’t forget to make your employees aware of your plans so they can quickly respond if something happens.

7. Check you’re covered

Check your insurance and make sure you understand what will be covered in the event of an incident, burst pipe or any other water related issue. If you don’t pay for the insurance, check with the managing agent to see what’s covered for. Make sure you know where financial responsibility lies.

8. Check who you should contact in an emergency

Have the numbers ready so you can respond quickly. Make sure you, and your teams, know who you should be contacting. 

If your water supply stops suddenly and nearby organisations are affected too, or if you have an issue with water quality, contact your water wholesaler for that area. They should be able to let you know if they’re aware of anything on the network near you.
 
If you have a problem on your site such as a leak, then it’s your responsibility to get it fixed.
 
At Water Plus we offer a leak detection and repair service if you need to call on us. You can email advancedservices@water-plus.co.uk to ask about the cost of this service.

To sum up, my main advice would be, be prepared, have a plan in place and make sure your teams know what to do, so that you’re ready if the worst does happen. You’ll also be minimising any risks too.

For more details on how organisations can lower operating costs and save water visit our advanced water services.

We’ve also created free online tips for SMEs to help them be more prepared for water interruptions on-site.

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