Sep 2023

Water and Liquid Damage Prevention

When considering property risks, fire is usually the first that comes to mind due to its common occurrence and potentially large consequences. However, from a frequency perspective, water/liquid leakage losses are more frequent with many potential sources for liquid leakage, such as:

  • Leaky roofs and windows
  • Toilets and other domestic water sources
  • Fire sprinkler heads and piping
  • Process water piping and equipment
  • Water Heaters
  • HVAC – Cooling and heating piping and radiators
  • Drains and drain lines
  • Boiler & Machinery
  • Sewer and Sewage Backup
  • Water Tanks
  • Water Mains
  • Flooding (e.g., bodies of water or surface water from rain, snow melt, etc.)

Water/liquid damage susceptibility can vary widely depending on the occupancy of a facility. At facilities with severe exposures (E.g., hospitals with critical areas including emergency rooms, operating rooms, surgical suites, imaging/diagnostic areas, pharmacy, implant, consignment and other high valued storage areas, etc.), a liquid/water damage vulnerability assessment should be completed.

The following table, which can be customized and used as a checklist, provides information about the location, construction, protection, and maintenance of water/liquid damage risks and the associated mitigation solutions.

Water/Liquid Damage Prevention/Control Checklist

#Checklist Location, Construction, Protection & MaintenanceDetails (As Needed)Checklist Assessment Comments
1Avoid placing important occupancies and equipment below grade or in basements.· If applicable, assess the vulnerability of equipment, processes, or infrastructure located below grade (basements, sub-basements).
· Move key processes and equipment to above-grade locations.
2Locate electrical equipment and emergency power equipmentOutside areas susceptible to liquid damage 
3Basement storageRaise stock above the anticipated water level. 
4Geographic areas subject to freezing temperatures· Inspect the building envelope (door and window seals, broken windows, open louvers, cold air intakes) to identify cold weather vulnerabilities.
· Temperature monitoring of spaces subject to freezing temperatures which contain water or liquid lines If it falls 40oF (4oC), alarm the constantly attended location.
· Adequate heat and weather sealing
5Earthquake protectionProvide bracing for chilled water, liquid, and sprinkler system piping 
6Site Layout· Identify exterior drainage, water diversion, and flood control systems (downspouts, scuppers, storm drains, culverts, levees).
· Direct rainwater, roof drainage, and stormwater drainage away from buildings. Inadequate or improperly designed drainage systems can cause water buildup and leaks. 
7Use FM Approved roofing systems.· Designed for local wind speeds and hail exposure.  
· Water and liquid leakage can occur if the roof is damaged or improperly installed.
· Wind uplift tests for newly adhered roofing systems
8Seal perimeter walls and ceiling.Will prevent water/liquid leakage from spreading to multiple floors 
9Roof drains· Size for maximum rainfall intensity
· Locate roof drain piping around important rooms
10Seals or weather stripping on exterior doors and windowsPrevent water from entering the building 
11Backflow prevention· The potential for backflow flooding into buildings exists via sewer lines where urban street flooding occurs, and street runoff is routed to combined sanitary sewers.
· Install automatic backflow or backwater valves to reduce the risk of backup in combined storm water/sewer systems.
12Chilled Water Lines· Use welded, brazed, or soldered piping
· Shutoff valves are well-marked and accessible
· No connections between dissimilar metals
· Locate around important rooms
13Steam linesLocate around important rooms (e.g., high-value equipment, electrical switchgear, elevator equipment, chillers, key production equipment, sensitive records, and IT equipment) 
14Air test new sprinkler system piping before hydrostatic testing.Will find leaks before filling the system with water 
15Label all water and liquid piping.Indicate the direction of water flow for chilled water services. 
16Leak Detection & Alarm· Data Centers and high-value equipment areas.
· Monitoring alarms at a constantly attended location
17Sump Pumps· Power supply provided with emergency power
· Redundant pumps to eliminate the single point of failure
· High water-level alarms monitored at a constantly attended location
18Emergency PowerPower for active and passive water and freeze detection devices and other key equipment 
19Liquid Damage Control CartEmergency pipe repair supplies, etc. 
20Secondary containment of domestic and chilled water lines· When directly above high-value equipment
· Drain to a safe location and provide leak detection with monitoring at the draining point.
21Braided stainless steel hoses and collection pansDishwashing and clothes washing machines 
22Water heatersWater collection pans that drain to a safe location 
23Warning to avoid contact with sprinklersLocations where occupants are not familiar with sprinklers   
24Emergency Response Team (ERT)· Safely respond to water/liquid damage incident · Properly trained in installing flood mitigation equipment (i.e., barriers, gates, etc. 
25Emergency Response PlanWater damage incident response procedures 
26Contractors (e.g., construction, housekeeping/janitorial, and security)Implement water damage incident response procedures before the start of work 
 MAINTENANCE (Operational)  
27Roof inspections & after severe weather eventsConduct Quarterly. Regular inspections and maintenance can help detect and prevent roof damage or deterioration. 
28Inspect HVAC condensate drains monthly.Conduct Monthly 
29Inspection of exterior seals of window frames, sliding doors, and HVAC unitsConduct Quarterly 
30Inspect liquid damage control cartConduct Quarterly 
31Test sump pumpsConduct Quarterly 
32Check water pumps for excessive vibrationConduct Quarterly 
33Test leak detection, flow alarms, and monitoringConduct Quarterly 
34Winterize the facility.Ahead of freezing temperatures 
35If storm drains are present, visually inspect and clear inlets and catch basinsThe frequency of inspection is site specific. 
36Check the condition of water heatersConduct Quarterly 
37Clean main sewer lines using a pressurized water systemConduct quarterly if there is a history of clogged main sewer lines 
38Inspect and exercise domestic and chilled water control valves to verify the good working order of the valves.Conduct Annually 
39Internal inspection of fire protection system piping to look for signs of corrosion or other problems· Conduct every 5 years.
· Pinhole leaks or similar problems have been identified, implement corrosion mitigation solutions.  
40Dry sprinkler systemsCheck low-point auxiliary drains 

As noted above, this checklist should be customized for the given occupancy/location. Some facilities (E.g., hospitals, cleanrooms, data centers, food manufacturing plants, etc.) may require more diligence and pre-planning than others. Periodic inspections are recommended by in-house personnel and outside consultants such as Risk Logic engineers. Contact Risk Logic today if you would like to schedule a property risk survey at your facility and have one our trained engineers perform a water/liquid damage vulnerability assessment.


  1. FM Global Property Loss Prevention Data Sheet 1-24, Protection Against Liquid Damage, July 2022 Edition
  2. Chubb Risk Engineering, Preventing Water Damage, January 2020
  3. Hanover Insurance Group, Water Damage: Developing an organizational  plan for prevention and mitigation of water losses, May 2022
  4. CNA Risk Control, Water Damage: Prepare, Respond, Improve, 2021