A major insurance company has warned facilities managers that buildings face a greater risk of flooding during the coronavirus crisis.
Zurich Insurance says leaks will go unnoticed if commercial buildings are empty or being virtually unused which can lead to terrible damage … but the impact can be far greater in universities and research establishments.
This is why many facilities managers have anti-flood products such as FloodSax (www.floodsax.com) alternative sandbags which are designed to soak up leaks and spills inside buildings, especially in hard-to-reach places. FloodSax saved a hospital from severe damage when a pipe burst inside by containing the water. They also stopped water pouring through a roof on a huge commercial building when its air conditioning system developed a serious fault.
Zurich says that universities are among the most vulnerable as their buildings and research laboratories look set to remain empty for the foreseeable future amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The insurance company has revealed that between 2016 and 2019 its university clients were hit with £15 million worth of water damage – and with buildings empty, the risk of water damage has increased. It found that research universities are more than twice as likely to suffer from ‘escape of water’ damage to their premises – the kind of claim you would associate with a leaky pipe – and that the cost of this damage is usually three times that of teaching universities because of their specialist equipment. This can have horrendous knock-on effects.
Tilden Watson, head of education at Zurich, said: “On top of this, many years of research can be jeopardised or lost as well as the ability to maintain and secure grant funding which can reduce overall research revenues.”
Why empty buildings can flood
The Zurich research revealed that mistakes by contractors and poor workmanship were main causes of floods – making up 41% of claims. Other problems included compression joints giving way (22% of claims) and blocked drains (9%).
Stephen Wells, director of estates, facilities and commercial services at the University of Surrey which suffered a severe flood when a frozen pipe fractured in 2018, said: “Water damage can have a huge impact on any organisation. For a university, the damage could affect students and their courses and cutting edge research – often working to tight deadlines and affecting multiple partners.
“So it is essential we have confidence we have done all we can to minimise the risk of any damage occurring and also have everything in place to respond quickly to contain any incident and to begin the recovery process immediately.”
One of those ways is to have a box of FloodSax so you’re ready to deal with a flood 24/7.