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December 03, 2019

Leak Detection: Helping Multifamily Owners Save Money (Part 1)

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Watersensor blog

“Last winter, I was vacationing in Jackson hole. Around midnight I got a call from my roommate telling me our washing machine had flooded and our basement was covered in a foot of water.”

Sound familiar? It’s likely that you or someone you know has had this same experience. In the U.S. every year, more than 2.5 million homeowners have experiences like this. These events leave homes ruined and lives turned upside down.

Major water leaks are no stranger to the multifamily industry either. If you haven’t experienced a major water catastrophe yet, then get prepared; one may be lurking right around the corner.

Water leaks are common

  • 14,000 water emergencies take place at home or work across the country daily
  • 4-5 ave. major water leaks occur per multifamily community yearly
"If it’s a new product, I see 4-12 water leaks a year. If it’s an older 80’s product, 25-50 a year. - Regional at Carroll Management Group
“I see about 4 to 5 leaks that affect multiple units a year.” - Senior Area Director at Weidner Apartment Homes

In general, there are 4 types of catastrophic water leaks.

  • Burst Pipes can occur anywhere in your home and are generally caused by freezing temperatures. Catastrophic pipe bursts can occur in the walls causing significant damages.
  • Toilet Supply Lines can corrode and burst. Depending on what floor the toilet is on, there could be extreme catastrophic damage as water rushes through the home.
  • Appliances like washing machines and dishwashers have supply lines that feed them. Many times these lines are rubber or pex and are prone to bursting.
  • Hot Water Tanks fail over time and cause significant damage. This usually happens due to a lack of maintenance and/or replacement of the anode rods. When a hot water tank fails, it may dump 120 gallons of hot water on your floor and then continue running.

Water leaks are costly

Not only are water leaks common but they come with a hefty price tag.

The average costs associated with a water leak are:

  • Drying out a leak - $2,700
  • Drying out and repair - $7,500
  • Clean water event cost - $3.75/sqft
  • Gray water event cost - $4.50/sqft
  • Black water event cost - $7/sqft

In total the average cost of a catastrophic water leak is $12,000.

Leaks can be catastrophic in the multifamily industry because they often impact multiple units. Water leaks are not isolated to a single living space like in a single-family home. A water leak on the third floor causes damage to apartment units on the second and first floors. To make matters worse if the leak had been preventable, it's likely that your insurance company won’t cover the costs. And if mold is caused due to the water leak, insurance doesn't normally cover the cost of that either. Another hidden cost to consider is the increase in insurance deductibles after making a claim on water leak damage

What can you do?

Generally catastrophic leaks are preventable. You should be scheduling regular maintenance, inspection, and replacement of old appliances often. Smart home technology also provides new ways to catch issues early on.

  • Smart water sensors
  • Smart submeters
    • We will chat more about submeters in part two of this series.

Smart water sensors

Dwelo partners with Dome by Elexa to provide smart water sensors to multifamily owners. Dome is a leading provider in Z-Wave smart home devices.

“With our sensors and Dwelo, we know we can give multifamily owners and managers peace of mind from the inevitable damages they will face from major water catastrophes.” - Jonathan Storino, Director of Sales at Elexa Consumer Products

Dwelo + Dome water sensors, give onsite staff and residents the ability to monitor and mitigate catastrophic water leak incidents.

Here's how

Smart water sensors are installed near or behind appliances that are typical culprits of water leaks. We generally recommend that a water sensor should be installed at:

  • The water heater
  • Behind every toilet

Dwelo’s implementation team will work with you to determine your exact need for the locations of these sensors.

In the event of a water leak, these sensors sound an audible alert that can be heard throughout the unit. These sensors also communicate with the Dwelo hub, kicking off leak notifications to the onsite staff and residents.

When paired with a platform like Dwelo, owners and operators are already seeing the benefits of these smart water sensors.

“Just wanted to tell you we received an alert this morning at 7am for a water heater leak alert. This alert was a real alert and saved us from a catastrophic blow out! We were able to replace the water heater with no damage to our asset or the residents belongings. We are only 2 weeks in and already the system has worked in our benefit!! Wanted to share the success story with you.” - Community Manager, BH Management

Multifamily owners should be preparing for water catastrophes by installing smart water sensors. These devices are inexpensive with an average ROI time frame of less than a year. Want to chat through the numbers? Get in touch here.

Smart water sensors are not our only recommendation to mitigate water leaks. Ready for part 2 of our leak detection story? Make sure to subscribe to our blog to get updates when that goes live!

Research and Statistics in this post:

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