As recent extreme weather events have once again demonstrated, water, our most treasured resource, can also be a source of widespread and costly damage to society.
This is not just applicable to structural deterioration and loss of infrastructure induced by flooding, but equally with technological issues where even the smallest amount of water leaking into an electric circuit can result in a complete shutdown of the system. My concern is that with such extensive use of electronics in business, communications, and heavy industries, the risk of economic loss by water leaks is higher than ever.
After researching solutions, I discovered a whole range of leak detection systems out there, each designed specifically to suit our needs but all helping us avoid the horrendous circumstances created by water seeping stealthily up through the carpets, at which point it’s too late. Common areas I have found to be at risk include, but are not limited to, water pipes, air conditioning units and drip trays, office tea rooms, wet rooms, under floor water services, and water tanks, which could overflow.
It’s possible for businesses to protect themselves against such difficulties by installing water leak detection systems and alarms, whereby special water-detecting equipment is fitted in susceptible zones and connected to audible or visual alerts to incite an immediate response. One particularly advantageous system I would look out for is where the leak detector is remotely connected to a water valve shut-off system, so the water supply is cut off on instant discovery of a leak with no need for human intervention. I would certainly feel happier knowing that problems can look after themselves when the staff is working far from the risk area.
The types of detector equipment available to us vary according to the area being monitored and can be mains or battery powered. For example, a spot probe optically detects changes in water levels in drip trays while sonic detectors identify changes in sound or vibrations from the appearance of water dripping from pipes. Alternatively, detection cable can be laid out to cover larger areas and detects leaks in any direction as soon as water comes into contact with it. I find the adjustable cable a handy tool as the wire can be easily wiped off to swiftly reset the detector.
The alerting systems can range from a vintage desktop buzzer and lamp to discreet wall-mounted alarms with bright LED outputs, which allow for distant visibility. However, I can happily say that in recent years, an SMS alerting service is often used to transmit the alarm directly to the individual, bringing us out of the 20th century. So now, by applying one of these simple preventative measures, there’s no reason to allow our finances to flow away into unnecessary repair costs.
Emily Banham holds a 2:1 BSc Physical Geography (International) from the University of Leeds.