Water damage can account for a significant percentage of insurance claims on construction sites. It’s not just the physical damage. The downtime and delays triggered by escape of water can be a project manager’s nightmare, carving a path through carefully laid plans. Moreover, there’s the potential environmental impact, not to mention the financial ramifications. With stakes this high, a robust strategy to manage water leaks is essential to keep your site safe, environmentally sound, and financially secure.

In the construction industry, the release of water, also known as the ‘escape of water’, can pose a significant risk to not only materials and electrical systems, but also the overall integrity of the building.

These risks are constantly present and need to be effectively managed. To address this, the industry relies on comprehensive strategies that involve proactive anticipation and strong response capabilities. A key component of these defences is the development and implementation of a site-specific water management plan.

Understanding Escape of Water Risks

Understanding the complexities of ‘escape of water’ is crucial for construction professionals. It requires an understanding of factors like hydrostatic pressures, weather exposures, plumbing system irregularities, and the intricacies of the built environment. Neglecting these considerations increases the risk of unexpected water damage.

To effectively mitigate these risks, proactive measures are essential. Developing and implementing a site-specific water management plan is vital. This tailored approach safeguards the structural integrity of the construction project and ensures its smooth progression.

What are some common causes of water escape on construction sites?

It is crucial to identify the common causes of water escape on construction sites in order to prevent potential damage and mitigate risks. Some of the key factors that can lead to water escape include; plumbing failures, weather conditions, poor waterproofing, inadequate site planning, equipment malfunction and human error.

By addressing these common causes of water escape on construction sites, proactive measures can be taken to mitigate risks and prevent costly water-related damage. Regular maintenance, thorough site inspections, and adherence to industry best practices are key in ensuring a safe and secure construction environment.

Failure to recognise these hazards can lead to escalations—water infiltration and damage that can significantly impede construction schedules and inflate costs.

Plumbing Failures: The most common cause of escape of water on construction sites

Construction sites are susceptible to various potential causes of water damage, which can lead to significant costs, delays, and safety hazards. Identifying and addressing these issues promptly is crucial for the successful completion of construction projects.

  • Connection/joint failures in water systems are the main cause of large loss. Mechanical joints such as pressed fittings and compression joints bring an increased risk of defect-related loss as it can be difficult to identify problems with installation.
  • Mechanical joints are more likely to fail than the traditionally soldered.
  • Older buildings undergoing refurbishment are a higher risk than new build projects.
  • Numerous large losses are associated with multi-storey buildings and hospitals.
  • Around two-thirds of large water damage incidents occur outside normal working hours. Water can be running throughout the building for hours or even days.
  • On a typical high rise between one and six storeys are impacted.
There is an average of 1,200 mechanical joints per floor in every high-rise development. Just one failed joint can have catastrophic consequences as one insurer discovered with a cost of £25million escape of water claim due to a failed joint on a development in London.

Impact of Water Damage on Construction

Water damage during construction can lead to structural deficiencies, costly remedial work, and project delays. Time-sensitive materials are particularly vulnerable to moisture, compromising quality and longevity. Uncontrolled water events can disrupt electrical systems, insulation, and mechanical equipment, posing safety risks and breaching regulations. Comprehensive insurance claims from water damage can significantly increase project costs. Therefore, implementing preventative measures and robust mitigation strategies, like those recommended by CIREG, are crucial to avoid these adverse outcomes.

Best Practices in Water Risk Management

Embracing the Construction Insurance Risk Engineers Group (CIREG) guidelines ensures a proactive approach towards water risk, crafting a response framework rooted in best practice principles. With emphasis on risk identification, response planning, and incident management, adherence to these standards can mitigate potential water-related disruptions.

Developing a site-specific water management plan, inclusive of advanced leak detection systems and automatic water shut-off valves, becomes an indispensable facet of this strategic methodology, safeguarding the construction site against the unpredictable nature of water escape incidents.

CIREG Guidelines for Water Control

Constructing defences against water escape starts with CIREG’s prescriptive guidance. These set the benchmark for protecting sites from water-related damage. In response to escalating insurance claims, CIREG Best Practice Guidance prescribe meticulous attention to water management throughout the project lifecycle. This encompasses both detection and response mechanisms.

A site-specific water management plan is central to CIREG’s strategy, tailored to address the unique risks every construction site faces. Critical to this plan is the integration of water leak detection systems. These detection systems should be complemented by automatic water shut-off infrastructure, designed to actuate upon leak recognition. This response prevents escalation, avoiding potential significant damage and associated costs.

Waterguard and MWA partnership
Waterguard and MWA partnership

Developing a Site-Specific Water Management Plan

Creating a personalised plan is pivotal for anticipating potential water hazards on-site. It ensures a proactive stance in water management rather than a reactive one.

It must begin with a thorough risk assessment, examining past incidents, local topography, and site conditions. This assessment determines the specific needs for each location and informs the implementable strategies.

Furthermore, utilising cutting-edge leak detection technology is essential within the plan. Combined with automatic water shut-off, they offer real-time intervention capabilities, minimising the impact of leaks.

Implementing Water Leak Detection Systems

Integrating water leak detection systems is imperative for mitigating the risk of water escape, ensuring project continuity, asset protection and CIREG compliance. They serve as an early warning mechanism, detecting leaks before they escalate into major issues.

The robustness of water leak detection technologies supports the resilience of a construction project. With capabilities including automatic water shut-off systems, they represent a fundamental component in water management strategies. By reducing the potential for substantial water damage, they not only save on costs associated with repairs but also uphold the integrity of the construction schedule and the safety standards on-site.

Embracing such technology not only reduces the likelihood of major water escape incidents but also demonstrates a commitment to due diligence, encouraging confidence across stakeholders, including insurers prioritising risk management.

Benefits of Water Leak Detection and Automatic Water Shutoff

Immediate Detection

Real-time systems identify water leaks as they occur, allowing for swift intervention.

Enhanced Safety

Protecting site integrity from water damage ensures a safer environment for workers.

Reduced Downtime

Quick responses prevent extensive water damage, minimising disruptions to construction schedules.

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Cost Savings

Early detection and action translate to lowered repair expenses and potential insurance claims.

Data Insights

Continuous monitoring provides valuable data for improving water management practices.

Managing Escape of Water on Construction Sites

The SiteGuard+ is a new release as part of the Series 7 range as a result of project trials, designed specifically to accommodate the specialist requirements of water usage on construction sites. This system will detect any water leak; measuring water volume in litres, shutting off the water supply when a user specified volume is exceeded within a selected time. This system fulfils the objectives of the CIREG guidance for permanent works water systems, to mitigate the risk against damage on construction sites and is included in the Waterguard CIREG Best Practice Guidance Procurement Guide.

Mitigating escape of water on construction sites
Mitigating escape of water on construction sites

The Waterguard SiteGuard+

This water leak detection and monitoring system has been developed in conjunction with contractors and insurers to create a system that is both practical and compliant, including special features to eliminate downtime in the event of false alarms. These include scheduled overrides, different water allowances for individual days and automatic out of hours water isolation. Visit the SiteGuard+ Product Page for full details.

This system maintains the integrity of the project by averting catastrophic water incidents. Implementing such solutions can lead to substantial long-term savings, shielding against insurance hikes and liability concerns.

If you’re named as the designated Responsible Person with responsibility for the control, implementation, and monitoring of the water services management plan for your project get in touch. We provide product demonstrations, presentations and CPDs on our range of construction systems including the SiteGuard+.