water testing

In the event of water leakage, the first step is to try to establish the source of the water so that the leakage can be effectively treated and managed, or further sourced.  Sandberg can undertake both site investigations of incidences of damp and water leakages and back this up with laboratory analysis of water samples with the aim of determining the source of the leakages.

Chemical analysis of water samples

In instances where the flow of the ingress water from the leakage is of a sufficient volume that a sample can be collected (typically more than 500ml), a sample can be collected in a suitable container (a rinsed out soft drink bottle etc is adequate) and tested at our laboratory.

Chemical analysis can establish the composition of a leakage water sample at the time it was sampled, but it is possible that the chemical composition of the water sample could have been altered by contact with the ground or general building materials making it harder to determine the exact composition of the source water.  At Sandberg, we undertake testing on the sample for a range of trace elements and compounds using documented in-house methods; from the results obtained, we are usually able to make an assessment of the likely source of the water, such as the potable water supply, ground water, rain water or a foul water source.

Chemical Tracers

Where the water leakage or seepage comprises a sufficient water flow or drip rate for samples to be collected, tracer chemicals can be applied to potential sources being investigated.  Tracer chemicals can be applied to provide an indication to the likely sources of a leak in the same way as dyes but with improved discrimination and sensitivity.  Such sources may be roof membranes; also, drain runs and other suspicious details can be tested with this method. 

The tracer solutions used contain very small amounts of trace element salts, these being metal ions not normally found present in the background building materials.  The doses applied do not amount to more than 20ppm and are not considered harmful in such quantities.

After application of the chemical tracers, samples of the leakage water are then collected and returned to our laboratory to test for the presence of the chemical tracers applied to the details being investigated.  The water samples are analysed for evidence of the chemicals by using atomic absorption spectroscopy.

Information about water

Water covers approximately 71% of the earth surface, of which 96.5% is found in oceans, 1.7% in groundwater, 1.7% in glaciers and the ice caps of Antarctica and Greenland.  Only 2.5% of the Earths' water is freshwater.

Approximately 22 water companies supply us with water, totalling approximately 12,000 million litres of water per day, and Ofwat estimates that on average 24% of this water is lost through various leaks. Therefore there is a lot of water that could potentially end up seeping into a property... then there is rainfall to consider which can add to the problem.  The water damaging a property can have a variety of sources such as rain water from a faulty drain pipe, grey water from faulty wash wastes, clean tap water, ground water rising, foul water from faulty stacks - clearly, a difficult problem to source and control.

Gavin Mayers

For further information contact: Gavin Mayers, Partner
Direct Tel: 020 7565 7070
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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