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10 Multifamily Challenges Eliminated by Smart Water Leak Detection

Water damage costs your multifamily property thousands of dollars every year. It’s an
expensive industry, and U.S. insurance companies rake in $2.5 billion per year from
water damage and mold expenses.

There are common solutions for water damage such as routine plumbing inspections,
but they’re time-consuming and expensive and they don’t make the problem go away.
Water damage provides a constant headache whether you’re handling water extraction
or paying a massive flood insurance bill. Smart water leak detection helps alleviate the
need for these tiresome methods and improves your water damage prevention.

What is Smart Water Leak Detection?

A smart water leak detector will notify both the resident and the property manager the
moment a leak occurs.

Leak detectors can be installed anywhere, but it’s highly recommended to place them in
higher-risk spots such as behind water heaters. They can also be placed in less
accessible areas such as on pipes that are underground or in the walls.
The instant water is detected, the leak detector sends a message to the resident
through the mobile app, and to the property manager through the property management
portal.

This quick alert system allows property staff to take immediate action on repairing
water leaks and preventing long-term damage. We’d like to highlight the most common
multifamily water damage problems that are solved by smart water leak detection.

Frequent Plumbing Inspections

You would never want to eliminate routine unit inspections completely, but let’s face it:
your residents hate them, and you hate doing them.

Routine inspections require you to notify the resident beforehand. This is usually an
annoyance for them, so the less these inspections are needed, the better. When done
correctly, the maintenance person leading the inspection thoroughly examines every
plumbing fixture in the unit while everything is shut off.

They inspect pipes, drains, and valves, and pay close attention to the water heater.
They’ll also check for mold or foul smells behind cabinets, under basins, and anywhere
else a leak could be hiding.

Sometimes, they’ll check the water meter while the appliances are shut off to see if it
changes. If it does, there most certainly is a leak. They will then take pictures and notes
of any damage they find and provide their recommendations to the property manager.
As you already know, inspections are a very time-consuming and detail-oriented
process. But what if your staff didn’t need to spend hours and hours inspecting every
pipe in every unit?

A leak detector will detect water and alert you instantly, allowing you and your staff to
spend less time investigating. And as a bonus, it will keep your residents happier,
because it means fewer visits from property staff.

Inspecting the Main Water Supply

Routinely checking for leaks in your property’s main water supply is another major
project to take on. Properties will typically inspect the main service lines and the sewer
lines, both of which are usually underground and hard to access.

This type of inspection is a bit more complicated, and requires you to shut the water off
for the entire building. You always must notify your residents beforehand that their
water will be shut off for a specific window of time.

These inspections also require a camera, because without it, it’s nearly impossible to
access underground pipes. The camera used is attached to the end of a flexible rod and
the footage captured shows up live on a monitor for the inspector to view.

Main water line inspections are time-consuming and expensive. However, if you
equipped your main water line with smart leak detectors, you wouldn’t need to do these
complicated and inconvenient operations as often.

Hiring a Water Leak Detection Company

Some multifamily properties will hire a water leak detection company to search for
leaks. They might only hire one for a more complicated project like a service line
inspection. Or, they’ll hire one when they notice an abnormally high water bill and want
to figure out the cause.

Hiring a water leak detection company can cost anywhere from $250 to $2,500,
depending on the size of the project. Once you start factoring in the size of your
property and the frequency of the inspections, the costs start to add up even more.
The other issue with water leak detection companies is that it can be harder to trust
their recommendations. Leak inspectors or plumbing inspectors will often try to
convince you that you need a re-piping or some other kind of expensive work done that
isn’t actually necessary.

The thing about a smart leak detector is, it doesn’t have any bias. It will simply tell you
whether or not there is a leak you need to fix. What’s even nicer is the fact that you’ll
spend a lot less money on smart leak detectors than you’ll spend on visits from a water
leak detection company.

Paying So Much for Flood Insurance & Water Damage Insurance

As mentioned earlier, water damage is a huge money maker for insurance
companies–$2.5 billion per year, to be exact. The average cost of an insurance claim for
a single appliance leak is $13,467.

Insurance companies know how common and costly water damage is, so they charge a
huge amount to multifamily properties. Multifamily property owners and managers will
often spend a great deal of time looking for ways to lower their insurance premiums
without much luck.

However, insurance companies do see the value that smart water leak detection brings
to flood prevention, and having leak detectors installed can lower your property’s
premiums
for flood and water damage insurance. The presence of that kind of
technology shows that your reducing the chances of a disaster occurring.

A lower insurance rate is another part of your budget that is improved because of smart
water leak detection.

Relying on Tenants to Notify You of Leaks

When an appliance starts leaking, residents rarely notice it right away, especially when
it’s somewhere hidden, like inside a cabinet. And even when residents do notice, most of
them probably won’t be able to call you right away.

They’ll likely put off telling you for a few days, either because they’re busy or because it
simply feels like a chore. That delay can allow the leak to worsen and cause even more
damage.

For example, if a leak is happening under the sink and goes unnoticed, the standing
water can start to cause damage to the cabinets and back wall.

When you have smart water leak detection, you don’t need to rely on your residents to
notify you of leaks in a timely fashion. You’ll be alerted instantly, and be able to tackle
the problem right away before it worsens.

Moreover, your residents will thank you because they no longer need to go through the
hassle of calling or emailing you to let you know of the leak, since they know you were
already notified.

Water Extraction

An apartment flood resulting from an undetected leak will wreak all kinds of havoc on
your units. For example, what starts as a small leak in the plumbing of a rooftop pool
could turn into severe flooding into all of the units below it. Despite all of the preventive
measures you take, water damage still happens and costs you a ton of money on
repairs and replacements.

There are several common methods used for disaster repair which we will review below,
but the need for these can be reduced. Smart water leak detection lowers the chances
of apartment flooding occurring, and helps you avoid going through the tiring process of
mitigating the damage.

After an apartment floods, the first thing that needs to happen is the drying out of the
entire apartment and removal of excess water. Everything needs to be dried, from the
walls to the cabinets to the furniture.

Property managers will either rent out the equipment or hire a company to take care of
it. Water extraction can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 depending on the amount
of flooding. It’s an expensive, unavoidable step in the process.

Clean-Up

Next, unless the unit was vacant, you’ll need to figure out what furniture and other items
you can salvage from the apartment, and what you have to say goodbye to. Unless they
have renters insurance, your residents will not have a solution for their lost belongings.
You most likely will be responsible for paying for the lost items.

If a property is destroyed by something like a natural disaster, law does not require the
landlord to compensate residents for lost or damaged belongings. However, if the
damage is due to the negligence of the property manager, then they must compensate
their residents. In most cases, it can be argued legally that water damage from a water
leak is due to the property manager’s negligence.

Compensating residents for their destroyed belongings can be an extremely
complicated and expensive process. It’s another pain you can avoid with smart water
leak detection.

Replacing and Repairing Floors & Walls

There are several things you’ll need to repair or replace in the affected unit(s) and here
are just a few of them:

● Repairing damaged plaster walls: $6.25 – $18.75/sq.ft.
● Replacing damaged drywall : $1.40/sq.ft.
● Replacing carpets: $4.70 – $5.50/sq.ft.
● Refinishing hardwood floors: $10.45/sq.ft.
● Woodwork: $70/hour

Read our Common Costs of Apartment Flooding blog to learn more about the cost of
repairing water damage.

Mold Remediation

Mold remediation is the removal of the mold that develops after major water damage or
an apartment flood. You most likely need to hire a professional company for this kind of
work, whether or not the mold is hazardous. The process includes disposing of any
drywall or insulation that got mold on it, which is another expense to add to the list.
Mold remediation can cost your property an average of $3,500 per unit, according to
homeguide.com. This cost multiplies when you include the occurrence of an upstairs
unit dripping into the unit below and causing even more mold to grow.

Temporary Vacancies for Tenants

One of the toughest consequences of apartment flooding is paying for residents to
temporarily vacate the unit while it’s under repair.

In most cases, unless the resident is solely responsible for the water damage, the
property must pay for their temporary lodging
. Not only is it expensive, but it’s a huge
pain for your residents and can hurt your relationship with them.

Smart leak detectors help you lower the chances of this happening by allowing you to
address leaks quicker and avoid serious water damage.

Next Steps

As a multifamily professional, you already know how to be proactive. You know how to
think ten steps ahead and take preventative measures to protect your property from
water damage. You also know how to respond when a disaster happens and mitigate
the situation.

Now, you have an opportunity to simplify things for yourself in that arena. Smart water
leak detection takes away so many of the stressful, time-consuming side-effects of
water damage. You can spend less time and money on inspections, pay less for
insurance, and lower the chances of having to tackle repairs and renovations.

In other words, you can be proactive in a way that is more efficient and less work for
you. Take control of water damage today by consulting with us about our smart leak
detection solutions
. You can also learn more about our smart water leak detection
system here
.

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