Last week was the U.S. EPA WaterSense Program’s ‘Fix a Leak Week,’ encouraging all homeowners, property managers, and facility managers to take a look around their properties to find and fix water leaks. We’re going to show you how to locate and fix both indoor and outdoor water leaks on your property, but first let’s talk a little bit about why water leaks are important.
Water leaks are simply wasteful—they increase water usage without any additional benefit. But for the commercial property manager or homeowner, water leaks create a significant additional detriment: Unforeseen costs. One of the major challenges of water management is that water bills typically don’t arrive for 30-60 days after the usage period is complete. If you have a running toilet, or an underground line leak in your irrigation system, one of the first signs could be an unusually high bill. If this is the case, the leak would have continued undetected until the bill arrived in your mailbox.
During our sales analysis process, one of the things we like to highlight for our customers is the risk of water leaks on their properties. Large leaks tend to get noticed quickly, while smaller leaks—like the examples noted above—can go for weeks or even months before being recognized. The chart below shows the Banyan Water team’s analysis on the rate of water flow from a leak, compared to the time it takes to typically find a leak of the corresponding size.
This visual illustrates that it is actually the smallest water leaks that can present the largest challenges for commercial property staff.
So how can a property or facilities manager discover hidden water leaks across their site? Let’s look at some of the places where small water leaks are common: Irrigation systems, pools and spas, and running toilets.
Irrigation systems are one of the most common places for water waste on a commercial property. Because much of the piping runs underground, and the systems typically operate overnight, it is easy for leaks to persist for weeks or months undetected. The first step in prevention is to ensure your landscaper is performing regular system inspections. Right now is a great time of year to perform these inspections, particularly if your irrigation system has been winterized. Have the landscaper turn on each station, look at the spray head to make sure nothing is clogged or broken, and check that water is not running off onto the sidewalk. If the pressure coming out of the heads seems low, inspect the surroundings for squishy or muddy spots as these can indicate a lateral line leak. Not only will this inspection ensure you don’t have water leaks, but it will also confirm that coverage of your landscape areas is effective and will make sure your plants thrive this summer. Modern technologies like Banyan’s Irrigation Insight solution provide daily main line tests and feedback on actual versus expected flow patterns to identify irrigation leaks in real time. Alerts are sent to relevant staff members notifying them of the leak, while master valves are shut off remotely ensuring no additional water is lost until the leak is repaired.
Swimming pools and spas are another common area for water leaks. Having your pool technician perform an inspection is a great way to ensure your pool isn’t leaking, but you can also check this yourself quite easily! During the testing process, turn off your pool’s auto-fill, don’t add any water to the pool, and try not to splash water out of the pool. Take a clear plastic container and submerge it to the first step in your pool’s stairway, marking the water level on the side of the container with a pen or marker. Next, fill the container with pool water to the line you just drew and set the container aside. After waiting two or three days, come back to the pool and once again submerge the container on the first step. If the water in the pool is lower than the water you have in your container, you have a pool leak. If you have more questions about this process check out this great video here. Another easy tip is to install a smart submeter to measure how much water your pool’s autofill system is drawing. This allows you to not only detect pool leaks, but also gives you actionable data on how much water waste your pool is costing your property.
Finally, toilets are often major contributors to small indoor water leaks. This is often due to older flappers that aren’t creating a strong seal between the tank and the bowl, causing the toilet to slowly fill all day and night. For facilities and property managers there is a simple test to check whether a toilet’s flapper is leaking. Open the lid of your toilet’s tank and add a few drops of food coloring or dye. Waiting about ten minutes, then check the bowl to see if any dye has come through. If it has, you’ve got a leak! A couple simple mechanism repairs or swapping out parts will have your toilet operating waste free in no time. Another modern approach to identify these types of leaks early is Banyan’s Indoor Insight solution. This IoT-enabled device measures indoor water flow throughout your property in real time, providing alerts on any anomalies in water use. It acts as a leak test for every toilet, faucet, and shower minute by minute, day after day.
If you’re curious about leak detection, whether it’s with boots on the ground or modern internet-enabled technologies, Banyan Water is here for you. Our Total Water Management solutions are designed to help find and prevent leaks and water waste across a commercial property’s footprint. Speak with one of our water conservation experts today!