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 & Maintenance
|Details (As Needed)
|Checklist Assessment Comments
|Avoid 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.
|Locate electrical equipment and emergency power equipment
|Outside areas susceptible to liquid damage
|Raise stock above the anticipated water level.
|Geographic 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
|Provide bracing for chilled water, liquid, and sprinkler system piping
|· 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.
|Use 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
|Seal perimeter walls and ceiling.
|Will prevent water/liquid leakage from spreading to multiple floors
|· Size for maximum rainfall intensity
· Locate roof drain piping around important rooms
|Seals or weather stripping on exterior doors and windows
|Prevent water from entering the building
|· 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.
|Chilled Water Lines
|· Use welded, brazed, or soldered piping
· Shutoff valves are well-marked and accessible
· No connections between dissimilar metals
· Locate around important rooms
|Locate around important rooms (e.g., high-value equipment, electrical switchgear, elevator equipment, chillers, key production equipment, sensitive records, and IT equipment)
|Air test new sprinkler system piping before hydrostatic testing.
|Will find leaks before filling the system with water
|Label all water and liquid piping.
|Indicate the direction of water flow for chilled water services.
|Leak Detection & Alarm
|· Data Centers and high-value equipment areas.
· Monitoring alarms at a constantly attended location
|· 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
|Power for active and passive water and freeze detection devices and other key equipment
|Liquid Damage Control Cart
|Emergency pipe repair supplies, etc.
|Secondary 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.
|Braided stainless steel hoses and collection pans
|Dishwashing and clothes washing machines
|Water collection pans that drain to a safe location
|Warning to avoid contact with sprinklers
|Locations where occupants are not familiar with sprinklers
|Emergency Response Team (ERT)
|· Safely respond to water/liquid damage incident · Properly trained in installing flood mitigation equipment (i.e., barriers, gates, etc.
|Emergency Response Plan
|Water damage incident response procedures
|Contractors (e.g., construction, housekeeping/janitorial, and security)
|Implement water damage incident response procedures before the start of work
|Roof inspections & after severe weather events
|Conduct Quarterly. Regular inspections and maintenance can help detect and prevent roof damage or deterioration.
|Inspect HVAC condensate drains monthly.
|Inspection of exterior seals of window frames, sliding doors, and HVAC units
|Inspect liquid damage control cart
|Test sump pumps
|Check water pumps for excessive vibration
|Test leak detection, flow alarms, and monitoring
|Winterize the facility.
|Ahead of freezing temperatures
|If storm drains are present, visually inspect and clear inlets and catch basins
|The frequency of inspection is site specific.
|Check the condition of water heaters
|Clean main sewer lines using a pressurized water system
|Conduct quarterly if there is a history of clogged main sewer lines
|Inspect and exercise domestic and chilled water control valves to verify the good working order of the valves.
|Internal 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.
|Dry sprinkler systems
|Check 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.
- FM Global Property Loss Prevention Data Sheet 1-24, Protection Against Liquid Damage, July 2022 Edition
- Chubb Risk Engineering, Preventing Water Damage, January 2020
- Hanover Insurance Group, Water Damage: Developing an organizational plan for prevention and mitigation of water losses, May 2022
- CNA Risk Control, Water Damage: Prepare, Respond, Improve, 2021