Heating control that also detects leaks.

The effects of leaking water in student accommodation can be very costly. Firstly, the diagnosis and tracing of the leak, secondly, the reparation costs and thirdly the cost of re-housing residents and replacing any property belonging to them that is damaged as a result. Not to mention the waste of water and the energy used to heat it!

Escape of water, as defined by the insurance industry, accounts for 30% of all home insurance claims in the UK and is one of the most expensive, with insurers paying out £1.8M for claims every day!

Accidental damage to the water supply, frozen pipes, leaky baths, showers, and appliances and of course corrosion of pipes and joints are all potential risks, and it is nigh on impossible to check all these factors in the course of a regular maintenance regime.

Long term leaks can remain unnoticed for months and only become apparent when dampness levels reach an extent where mould takes hold, and an odour is noticeable. By this time unnecessary damage has occurred and the job of fixing the problem is far greater than if the leak had been detected earlier.

Prefect Controls Managing Director, Glen Golding commented “We work almost exclusively with the student accommodation sector and provide a heating control system that was initially designed to cut unnecessary energy use and reduce bills. Irus, our central control system has evolved over the last 20 years to encompass monitoring of light, decibel, CO2 and humidity levels which ensures environmental conditions in student rooms are comfortable and safe. The system communicates with a master interface unit that is accessed via an internet portal on which all room data can be viewed and managed. It was only a small step to add leak detection sensors to the system. These are placed in hot water tank rooms, in sink cupboards, along pipework or anywhere that leaks are most likely to occur. These sensors use the same communication pathways to send information to the portal and alert appropriate staff to conditions that may indicate a leak.”

Control units are installed throughout the building, in each bedroom, kitchen and hot water cylinder cupboard. Moisture sensors connect directly to these and alert when dampness is detected.

Prefect has three options for responding to leaks depending on extent and configuration of the water supply.

All options verify the data received by confirming the leak over a pre-specified time, usually 2 minutes.

Option 1‘Alert Only’. When the leak is confirmed the Irus Portal, which has been programmed with designated email and telephone contact details, will send out a message stating the severity, location, and time stamp of the leak so that action can be taken to minimise damage.

Option 2‘Riser shut-off valve’ has an Auto Shut-off Valve (ASOV) installed on the incoming cold-water supply for each wet riser core. These valves can isolate the riser should a leak be detected at any of the sensors that have been installed. The control unit is connected to both the ASOV and sensor. Once the leak is confirmed the control unit sends a signal to the ASOV to close the valve and isolate the riser.

Option 3‘Individual cylinder valve shut-off’. Sensors are installed on the

floor in the area of the potential leak and wired into the control unit. An ASOV is installed on

the incoming cold-water supply for each Hot Water Cylinder with the capability to isolate this cylinder should a leak be detected within this tank cupboard. The control unit is connected to both the ASOV and sensor. Once the leak is confirmed the

control unit will send a signal to the ASOV to close the valve and isolate the individual cylinder.

For all options the portal will send out an alert in the form of either email and/or SMS message to designated personell.

Glen continues, “These three options provide a comprehensive response to any buildings requirements and ensure that detection is alerted and dealt with as soon as possible to mitigate the inconvenience and cost of leaks.”