In addition to securing the building against the risk of theft, vandalism and accidental damage, there are measures you need to take to protect your vacant commercial property’s water systems.
The first thing to do is turn off the water supply to fixtures that will not be in use - if you have a fire sprinkler system, you will need to ensure the water supply is still active - then drain the system to empty the tank and pipes.
In the winter months, it is a good idea to keep the heating on a low setting, so if the temperature unexpectedly drops, the pipes don’t freeze and get damaged. We have more winter related tips in our winter wise guide.
Arrange for regular checks to be made on the property to ensure that if there is a problem, it’s discovered as soon as possible so damage is kept to a minimum. This includes checking the interior for evidence of leaks and water stains, and making sure the drains and gutters aren’t blocked outside the building.
You also need to submit regular meter readings so we can ensure your bill is as accurate as possible.
If you business premises have been closed for long periods of time, you need to think about the dangers posed by pathogens that could have accumulated in any water left in the pipes. A particular worry is the legionella bacteria that can cause the potentially fatal Legionnaires’ disease. Legionella thrives in warm, stagnant water. The bacteria causes problems when it is inhaled and enters the lungs via small droplets and sprays, like the ones produced by shower heads, air conditioning units, hosepipes or sprinklers. It is especially dangerous to the elderly or people with reduced immune systems, which is why outbreaks are typically associated with care homes and healthcare facilities. But whatever your business, it may be a good idea to book a legionella test when you are ready to reopen your business premises to be certain that your staff, customers and visitors are fully protected.
Getting your business premises ready to reopen
After a lockdown or a period of time when your business premises have been left vacant, there are a few steps to take in terms of water. At the very least, flush out the system by running all the hot and cold water taps and water fountains for several minutes - longer for the outlets furthest away from the main line - and flush all the toilets. This will clean any stagnant water away and give you the opportunity to ensure that everything is working as it should be, and that there are no new leaks or problems. Make sure that staff undertaking this work understand the dangers of the legionella bacteria and take precautions, such as removing shower heads and wearing a protective mask.
It is also a good idea to take a meter reading. If it shows there has been an increase in your water usage from the reading you took just before you vacated the building, this is a good indication of a leak, giving you the chance to fix it before you waste even more water. You can read more information on leak detection and assistance here.
If you have any questions or would like to switch your commercial water supplier, please contact us to chat to one of our advisers.