Plumbing Emergency Tips for Facility Managers
A plumbing emergency in your commercial facility requires a quick and decisive response. Handling plumbing emergencies immediately will reduce the damage that these events can cause and help you get back to business as soon as possible. The following tips can help you and your staff cope with plumbing emergencies quickly and efficiently.
Types of Plumbing Emergencies
There can be variations on the type of plumbing emergencies you might encounter in a commercial facility, but most plumbing issues will fall into one or more of the following categories.
- Leaks: A drop or two of leaked water can be an annoyance, but won’t usually amount to an emergency. Large leaks, however, can release substantial amounts of water into your facility in a short time. Locating a long-term leak could also require emergency action if it means finally stopping an ongoing problem. Finding and fixing leaks could require digging and excavating if the leak is underground. It’s also possible that walls or other structural elements may need to be removed to take care of a leak.
- Broken pipes: Broken pipes are more significant than leaks since they can cause severe flooding. Even a small crack in a pipe, or a broken seal at a connection or fixture, can put out enough water to damage floors, carpeting, walls, equipment, and merchandise.
- Drain problems: Problems with a commercial drain can also lead to plumbing emergencies if water and waste can’t be properly removed from your facility. Drains can also back up, allowing wastewater and other material to flow back into your facility.
- Backed-up toilets: Plumbing emergencies involving toilets can be some of the worst issues in a commercial facility. Clogged toilet drains can cause overflows when the toilet is flushed. In the worst cases, toilets can back up and spill human waste and other material into your bathroom. Problems with toilets can be messy, unpleasant, and a risk to health.
Handling Plumbing Emergencies
- Be prepared: Effective emergency management starts with preparation. Create an emergency plan that will help guide reactions if a plumbing emergency occurs. Get input from your facility manager, plumbing professional, building owner, tenants, and other stakeholders who would be affected by plumbing emergencies. Make sure the emergency plan is well communicated and understood by personnel who may have to respond to the emergency.
- Tell managers and owners: If a plumbing emergency occurs, report it to the building’s managers and owners as quickly as possible. Immediate reporting of plumbing problems can help ensure that the trouble is minimized and corrected as quickly as possible.
- Turn off water: If the plumbing emergency involves flowing or gushing water, such as from a broken pipe, the water supply should be shut off immediately. This will prevent more water from getting into your facility and will help minimize damage. Tenants may not know where the shut-off valve is, so they should know who to call if they discover a major problem. Include water shut-off procedures in your emergency plan.
- Document the damage: Document the damage and the condition of the plumbing system after the emergency is under control. Take photographs or video. Keep detailed notes of what happened and what was done to correct it. This documentation could be essential when dealing with building owners, utility companies, and insurance agencies.
- Make things easy for customers: If your facility deals with customers, make it as easy as possible on them during the emergency and its resolution. Be prepared to apologize and increase your customer service offerings to help keep customers placated, if not happy.
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