PREVENTING THE PREVENTABLE-

5 SIMPLE STEPS TO PREVENT WATER DAMAGE AND REDUCE LIABILITY

By: Barry Garson, IICRC                                     Emergency Building Response & Restoration  

In my 22 years of responding to emergency water damage issues in commercial and residential structures, I have seen thousands of leaks.  The sad fact is the majority of these costly water damage events were preventable.  Yes, there are going to be leaks that are unavoidable, but what can you do to prevent the ones that don’t have to happen? You can implement a water damage prevention plan for your properties to save yourself from huge headaches and liability issues later.

Water damage in office buildings can impact building revenue and your tenants’ jobs.  In residential buildings, it can impact tenants’ quality of life. Increased liability risks associated with this type of event are also a possibility.

Here are 5 things that management teams can do to reduce the chances of water damage in buildings and help reduce the liability exposure for the building owner.

  1. Perform Regular Mechanical & Plumbing Inspections.  Check under tenant sinks, angle stops, supply lines, shut off valves, water filtration systems, and in mechanical rooms.  Schedule regular clean outs of main lines and A/C units in your buildings.
  2. Talk To Your Team about Water Damage Awareness.  Train your employees and tenants to report any signs of water damage, no matter how small the leak!
  3. Make a ‘Leak Kit’.  Have a small amount of equipment on hand to mitigate the effects of a leak that way you can stop the water from causing more damage, until a professional restoration company arrives.  Make sure to have personal protective equipment in the kit.
  4. Be Proactive!  It’s sometimes the small water issues that can cause the most trouble.  If not treated properly by a professional, even a small leak can cause mold issues and become a liability.
  5. Think Safety ALWAYS!  Quick action is necessary the moment water is discovered. This includes turning the power off, shutting off the water supply at the source of the leak, and protecting contents that could be damaged.

Once water is removed DON’T STOP and think you are done.  I have seen many preventable mold remediation jobs where customers only extracted visible water, and unknowingly left wet materials to grow mold in hidden areas.  Do a thorough investigation* of all possible affected areas like drywall, insulation, and moisture on the ceiling below, or you could be setting yourself up for a much costlier mold remediation.

I understand that managers and engineers wear a lot of different hats these days, which is why it’s important to have a trusted restoration partner in your corner

* Before you have anyone cut into building materials, it is important to note that there are now stricter guidelines from the San Diego Air Pollution Control District (APCD), that require testing of certain building materials for asbestos, in any building of any age.  See sdapcd.org for more information.