Uncovering undetected leaks on condo properties

George Tsintzouras, CEO and Co-Founder, Alert Labs
Wednesday, May 23, 2018

How can condo managers stop water waste before it flows through to utility bills?

Water bills are probably not getting the attention they deserve in condo corporations. Many recipients simply pay these bills without questioning where the charges come from. But, how does a board of directors or manager know if a condo corporation is paying for water use from normal activities or from undetected leaks and inefficient appliances?

The price of water is steadily on the rise. In Ontario, for example, water rates increased an average of 3.8 per cent every year from 2005 to 2015, outpacing property-tax increases. What’s more, water damage has become the top insurance claim in Canada, now outnumbering fire-related claims.

With rising utility prices, and more water-damage related insurance claims than ever before, the cost of water can no longer be overlooked in condo corporations.

Proactive and preventative measures can help managers avoid unexpected water costs and offset rising utility rates. Paying close attention to water usage, which can now be tracked remotely in real-time using smart sensors, should be part of every property manager’s efforts to reduce operating costs, prevent property damage and decrease maintenance expenses.

Identify the source of leaks

To prevent future damage and reduce utility bills, it’s important to identify the source of leaks. Some of the most common include: plumbing fixtures such as toilets; appliances such as water softeners and water heaters; and weather-related events such as frozen pipes that burst.

The single most common source of leaks in multi-residential properties is the toilet. But many toilet leaks go undetected until a massive water bill arrives, or are never detected because the extra water usage is misunderstood as normal.

A leaky toilet may not sound like a big problem, but in Toronto, for example, where the cost of water is $2.66 per cubic meter, one leaky toilet wasting 946 litres of water a day would cost $918.47 a year. Ten leaky toilets across multiple properties could mean wasting more than $9,000 every year.

Detect abnormal water use

Managers can avoid surprises like this by familiarizing themselves with the unique water-use profiles of their properties. Real-time water use data helps establish a baseline of normal water use. Managers can then more easily identify deviations from the norm and reduce water bills.

For example, if residents typically use three cubic metres of water from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. during the week, but not on weekends, a manager would want to investigate if this volume of water was being used at 8 a.m. on a Sunday. Similarly, if a property is supposed to be vacant, there should be no water consumption. In this case, any water use could indicate a flood or leak.

Insights about water use can also help managers understand which fixtures and appliances may need attention. For example, a water softener that regenerates too frequently can be detected and readjusted to use water more efficiently.

Maximize operational efficiencies

By detecting and identifying water-related problems when they happen, managers can take immediate steps to maximize operational efficiencies, reducing wasted water before it shows up on utility bills and saving condo corporations money on consumption.

George Tsintzouras is CEO and co-founder of Alert Labs, a Kitchener, Ontario-based company that produces intelligent leak detection devices. George graduated from the University of Waterloo with his Bachelor of Physics and entered the field of optics. He earned his Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from Wilfrid Laurier University, with a specialization in marketing strategy. 

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