Freezing Temperatures Place Commercial Properties In Hot Water
In one of the coldest winters not seen in a decade, frozen cooling tower valves and pipe leaks are wreaking havoc with commercial property water usage.
“Over the past week, with temperatures dropping to just above zero, we’ve received dozens of calls from property managers about their cooling tower’s solenoid valve freezing in the fill position and water continuously flowing out,” states Scott Kale, vice president of WaterSignal, an Atlanta-based green technology company focused on water conversation and leak detection.
As Kale notes, cooling towers can account for up to 30% of the total water used in an average building. With an open valve pouring between 4,000 to 4,500 gallons every hour down the drain, along with the chemicals, the impact can be very costly. Kale estimates the cost to be as high as $3,000 per day if not corrected.
“For the customers who use our monitoring service, we were able to immediately notify the property manager and building engineers that a water spike had occurred and even tell them that the leak was at the cooling tower,” said Kale. “Within an hour after the alert, their water usage dropped from 4,898 gallons to 1,298.”
The WaterSignal system, which can help reduce a building’s water bill by 14 percent on average, is a self-contained, non-intrusive device that listens to the pulse of the water meter. The system sends real time data wirelessly to a website portal for managers and owners to view the properties’ water consumption by the month, day or even down to the hour. If a major leak occurs, much like an energy surge popping a circuit breaker, the device sends an immediate text and/or email that a water spike above the preset limit has occurred.
According to Kale, it is imperative that property managers and engineers constantly monitor their water usage during the coldest – and warmest – days. “While most monitor energy on a daily or weekly basis, most don’t measure water until the bill arrives… and by then it’s too late.”
Kale offers these proactive tips for commercial building maintenance this winter:
- Despite the cold, tour the property to inspect the cooling tower and any outside water valve. A quick turn – or warm water to unfreeze the valve – can save thousands of gallons.
- Look for ice patches in areas where no other ice is formed. An underground pipe leak may have occurred.
- Much like a house, a dripping faucet can prevent pipe bursts as it relieves the excessive pressure that builds between the faucet and the ice blockage when freezing occurs. However, pipes vulnerable to freezing (ones that run through an unheated or unprotected space) should be left with the water flowing.
- Research water monitoring and leak detection products and services.
WaterSignal is a green technology company focused on water conservation. WaterSignal measures water flows in real-time to detect leaks and monitor irrigation systems and cooling towers for commercial, multifamily, medical and educational properties. WaterSignal is located in Alpharetta, GA with operations in ten states. For more information, visit www.watersignal.com.