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  • Perceptive Things Team

Preventing Water Leaks on a Commercial Property

Updated: Mar 5

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Water leaks in commercial properties can be a silent but devastating issue. They can lead to significant financial losses and structural damages. Understanding the main causes of these leaks is critical for property managers and owners.

This article delves into the various factors contributing to water leaks in commercial settings. These include roofing issues, plumbing system failures, and building weaknesses.

In this post, we will explore proactive maintenance strategies. We'll also discuss the latest advancements in leak detection technologies to safeguard your property.

Join us as we navigate effective measures for preventing water leaks to ensure the longevity and safety of your commercial property.

What Are the Main Causes of Water Leaks in a Commercial Property?

Water leaks in commercial properties can arise from various sources. Here are these main causes:

Plumbing System Failures

According to the plumbing company Benjamin Franklin, plumbing system failures can lead to water leaks. Wear and tear on pipes as well as corrosion and rust are common culprits. Here is a breakdown of how these issues contribute to leaks:

Wear and tear on pipes

Over time, pipes can experience wear and tear due to regular usage, changes in water pressure, and temperature fluctuations. This weakens the material, making it more susceptible to leaks.

Other factors, such as the water velocity and the age of the plumbing system, can also contribute to wear. Older pipes, especially those made of materials like galvanized steel or polybutylene, are more prone to degradation.


Corrosion is a chemical process that occurs when metal is exposed to water and other substances, resulting in the formation of rust. This weakens the structural integrity of pipes and can eventually result in leaks.

Corrosion may also be accelerated by factors like the pH level of the water, the presence of minerals, and the specific type of metal. For instance, iron pipes are particularly susceptible to corrosion.


Rust is the visible result of corrosion, and it often appears as a reddish-brown discoloration on the surface of metal pipes.

Rust can create weak points in the pipes, causing them to develop small holes or cracks. These openings can gradually grow larger, leading to water leaks.

Poor plumbing maintenance

Passive plumbing maintenance opens the door for trouble, but proactive plumbing maintenance ensures that your plumbing fixtures, appliances, and systems will operate efficiently. This is crucial in mitigating the risk of water damage and preserving the integrity of your building.

Roofing Issues

Here is a closer look at how roofing issues can lead to water leaks:

Poor maintenance practices

Lack of regular and proper roof maintenance is a significant contributor to water leaks. Over time, debris such as leaves, branches, and dirt can accumulate on the roof. This creates blockages and prevents proper water drainage.

Clogged gutters and downspouts can lead to water pooling on the roof, increasing the risk of leaks. Standing water can deteriorate roofing materials and compromise the integrity of the roof system.

Failure to address minor issues promptly, such as damaged or missing shingles, can escalate into more significant problems over time. This allows water to penetrate the roof.

Weather-related damage

Severe weather conditions, such as storms, heavy rain, hail, and strong winds, can directly damage roofing materials. High winds can lift or remove shingles, while hail can dent or crack them.

Extreme temperature fluctuations can contribute to the deterioration of roofing materials over time. This is especially true in regions with freeze-thaw cycles. It can make them more susceptible to leaks. 

Prolonged exposure to UV radiation, especially in hot climates, can also cause roofing materials to break down.

Irregular inspections and repairs

Roof inspections help detect damaged or missing shingles, so it's important to stick to a schedule. They are also necessary for identifying deteriorated flashing and other signs of wear and tear. These issues could compromise the roof's integrity.

Property owners can maintain the roof's protective barrier against water infiltration by promptly addressing any issues. This is one way to prevent water damage to the building's overall structure and interior. 

Building Envelope Weaknesses

Here is how building envelope weaknesses can result in water infiltration:

Cracks and gaps in the structure

Over time, buildings may develop cracks in the walls, foundation, or roof. These reasons include settling, temperature changes, or structural movement. These cracks provide pathways for water to enter the building. Water can seep through these openings during rainstorms or when snow melts. This can lead to leaks.

Inadequate insulation

Inadequate insulation can lead to temperature differences within the building. Temperature differences can result in condensation on interior surfaces. This is especially true in regions with high humidity levels.

Condensation can contribute to the development of moisture. This promotes mold growth, which can pose health risks and cause structural damage over time.

Improperly insulated pipes or HVAC systems can also lead to condensation. If not addressed, this moisture can contribute to water-related issues.

Poor sealing and insulation

Sealing and insulation are crucial for preventing water damage. They create barriers against moisture infiltration and control condensation. By effectively sealing and insulating your building's envelope, you can protect against water damage.

Proactive Maintenance Strategies

Proactive maintenance is crucial for preventing water leaks. It also minimizes the risk of water damage. Here are some strategies you can implement:

Regular Inspections

Regular inspections are crucial for identifying potential water damage early on. They also help reduce the risk of damage.

Here are some 2 key aspects to consider for effective water damage prevention through inspections:

  • Frequency: Conduct inspections regularly, at least twice a year. This helps catch potential problems before they escalate. High-risk areas may require more frequent checks.

  • Thoroughness: Be thorough and inspect all areas that are susceptible to water damage. These include basements, attics, roofs, plumbing systems, windows, and doors. Look for signs of leaks, water stains, mold, and any other water-related issues.

Engaging professional inspection services

Consider hiring professional inspectors, especially for more comprehensive and specialized evaluations. Professionals can provide a more in-depth assessment of your property's vulnerability to water damage.

Professional services may include roof inspections, plumbing system assessments, and thorough evaluations of potential problem areas.

Install water leak sensors

The water leak sensors by Perceptive Things® utilize advanced leak detection technology to detect even the smallest trace of water in real time.

When these sensors come into contact with moisture or water, they automatically send a signal to your phone via an SMS, an email, or a phone call within seconds. This will allow you to take action before the leak escalates and requires you to pay thousands of dollars to repair any water damage.

Our video below explains more about how water leak sensors by Perceptive Things® utilize advanced leak detection technologies to prevent water damage.

Develop a maintenance plan and schedule

Here is a guide to how you can develop a maintenance schedule to prevent water leaks in a building:

Creating a comprehensive maintenance calendar

Schedule routine inspections of the building envelope. Inspect the roof, walls, windows, and doors. Your maintenance calendar must include interior inspections. Look for signs of leaks, water stains, and damage.

You may also want to consider seasonal inspections. This is especially important before periods of heavy rain, snow, or extreme weather.

Convey the importance of the issue to your team

Ultimately, your team will always play a key role in prevention, response, and repairs. You should try to be as proactive as possible when it comes to addressing potential issues that your team should be on the look out for.

Here are some ideas you might consider adding to your plan:

  • Preventing escalation: Prompt attention can prevent minor leaks from causing extensive water damage.

  • Preserving structural integrity: Timely repairs help maintain the structural integrity of the building, preventing water-related damage to walls, ceilings, and foundations.

  • Avoiding mold and mildew: Rapid responses to leaks prevent the development of mold and mildew, safeguarding your indoor air quality and occupant health.

  • Potential cost savings: Proactive maintenance is more cost-effective than major repairs. Address issues promptly to reduce the overall financial impact.

  • Maintenance team involvement: will your team respond to all issues? When should an external team or vendor be called in to help?

Educating Staff and Tenants

Educating staff and tenants about water leak prevention is crucial. It helps everyone maintain a safe, efficient commercial property. Here are key aspects to consider when implementing an education program:

Raising awareness about water leak prevention

Develop educational materials, such as brochures, posters, and emails. Use them to raise awareness about the importance of water leak prevention. It is also vital to emphasize the financial and safety implications of water damage. This encourages proactive involvement. 

Reporting procedures for suspected leaks

Establish clear and accessible reporting procedures for suspected water leaks. Ensure that all staff and tenants know how and where to report any concerns promptly. In addition, you should implement an online reporting system.

Alternatively, you can designate a specific contact person to streamline the reporting process.

Emergency response training

Conduct emergency response drills to ensure that all staff and tenants are familiar with the evacuation procedures. Make sure they know how to respond in the event of a water leak or flooding. You should also provide training on the location and proper use of the emergency shut-off valves for water, gas, and electricity.

Implement Effective Strategies for Water Leak Prevention in Commercial Properties

In conclusion, preventing water leaks in commercial properties requires a multi-faceted approach. This includes regular maintenance, advanced detection technologies, and a well-informed staff and tenant base.

By understanding the common causes of leaks and implementing proactive strategies, you can significantly reduce the risk of water damage. 

The integration of technologies, such as water leak sensors, can provide around-the-clock piece of mind. This ensures that your property remains safe and dry. Remember, the key to effective water leak prevention lies in early detection and prompt action. Protect your investment by staying vigilant and embracing the latest in leak detection technology.

Have you encountered water leak challenges in your commercial property? 

What innovative methods or technologies have you used for water leak detection and prevention in your commercial spaces? We'd love to hear your insights!

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