Drainage Solutions for Commercial Facilities

Drainage Solutions for Commercial Facilities - Lee Company

When was the last time you thought about the plumbing and drainage systems on your commercial property? Behind walls and beneath parking lots lies an unseen infrastructure silently keeping your building functioning at its best and allowing your business to operate without a hitch.

But plumbing and drainage issues can occur at any time, often without warning. Especially in a commercial setting, where people come and go daily, and there’s a lot of wear and tear on the system.

From sluggish drains to catastrophic flooding, the effects of these problems can result in unhappy customers, lost productivity, and costly repairs.

If you’re a commercial building owner, business owner, or facility manager in Tennessee, it’s important to understand the critical role of these systems in maintaining safety, preventing issues, and ensuring your business runs smoothly.

Below we’ll explore the different types of commercial drainage solutions available, the importance of regular maintenance, and how to hire a reliable professional.

Common Drainage Issues in Commercial Facilities

When it comes to drainage issues, commercial buildings present a unique set of challenges. Some buildings may be equipped with older, outdated pipes that are more prone to clogging. Others may have a sort of Frankensteined-together system of old and new piping that can be difficult to inspect and maintain. While others may have inadequate drainage due to poor design or construction.

No matter the case, some of the most common commercial plumbing problems and drainage issues include:

  • Slow drains
  • Contamination from runoff
  • Leaking pipes and joints
  • Sinkhole formation
  • Poor ventilation
  • Flooding or overflowing toilets, showers, or sinks
  • Mold growth

Let’s look at the various elements of a successful drainage solution, beginning with a vital yet often overlooked component: the roof.

Roof Drain Systems

Picture this: A sudden Tennessee downpour strikes and the rainwater is cascading off your roof. But where is all that water going?

If your roof drain systems aren’t up to the task, you might find that the water is pooling on the roof or overspilling onto the building’s facade.

In commercial buildings with large flat roofs, roof drain systems are the go-to solution for efficient water management. These systems, including roof drains and rainwater leaders, divert water away from the roof, preventing pooling and excess runoff that can damage the structure and create moisture control problems indoors.

Surface Water Management

Have you ever noticed large puddles forming around your building after a rainstorm? This is a clear indication that your property’s surface water management systems aren’t doing their job.

What is surface water management? It’s a system designed to collect runoff from roofs, driveways, parking lots, and other areas around your building and then channel it away from the site.

The key to efficient surface water management starts with proper grading and installation of drains. Drains should be sized correctly, laid at a gentle angle, and installed in the correct locations.

Swales and catch basins are crucial to redirecting rainwater runoff and preventing it from pooling. Permeable surfaces and green infrastructure can also play a part in managing surface water, allowing it to naturally seep into the ground rather than causing a flood.

Basement and Foundation Drainage

When water pools around your building, it doesn’t just sit there. It seeks the path of least resistance, which often leads to your building’s basement or foundation.

Basement drainage, foundation drainage, and sump pumps are crucial elements of any drainage system for commercial buildings. Without these, you’re looking at major (and costly) structural damage. Water infiltration can lead to mold, mildew, and other moisture-related issues, not to mention the potential for full-blown flooding.

Functional and Financial Impact of Inadequate Drainage

Whatever the cause, the consequences of inadequate drainage extend far beyond mere inconvenience. Drainage issues can disrupt business operations and have serious financial implications that go beyond just the cost of repairs.

Businesses can face both direct and indirect costs when navigating the rough waters of drainage issues:

Direct Costs: The Price of Water Intrusion

Water damage wreaks havoc on building infrastructure, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. In 2022, commercial buildings in Tennessee faced a risk of structural flood damage that resulted in over $371 million in associated costs, ranking the state 9th in the United States for this type of damage.

The direct costs associated with inadequate drainage can include:

  1. Foundation Repairs: Improper drainage can lead to excessive moisture seeping into the foundation, causing cracks, shifting, and structural instability. The expenses incurred for foundation repairs can quickly skyrocket, often reaching tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars!
  2. Water Damage Cleanup: From soaked carpets and warped flooring to damaged drywall and compromised electrical systems, the cleanup and restoration process can be a costly endeavor. On average, water damage restoration costs range from $3.75 to $7 per square foot, depending on the severity of the damage and the type of water involved. With the average commercial property spanning several thousand square feet, this expense adds up fast.
  3. Equipment and Material Replacement: When water infiltrates sensitive equipment, such as commercial HVAC systems, servers, or manufacturing machinery, the price tag for replacements can be exorbitant. Furniture, inventory, and other valuable assets may also need to be discarded and replaced due to irreparable damage. The whole process is a major drain on time, resources, and revenue.
  4. Insurance Premiums: Water damage claims can lead to increased insurance premiums, adding an ongoing financial burden to businesses struggling with drainage issues. Insurance providers view buildings with a history of water damage as higher risks, resulting in elevated policy costs. And some commercial property insurance policies may not even provide coverage for water damage resulting from negligence. So you could be left footing the bill.

Indirect Costs: Lost Business Opportunities and Revenue

The direct costs of water intrusion are bad enough, but they pale in comparison to the litany of indirect costs and operational headaches businesses can suffer from drainage issues:

  1. Closures: When water damage strikes, commercial operations often come to a screeching halt. Temporary closures translate into lost revenue, dissatisfied customers, and a tarnished reputation. The longer the downtime, the more severe the financial impact.
  2. Employee Productivity Losses: The disruption of water damage can lead to decreased productivity for employees as they transition into temporary workspaces or adjust to unfamiliar equipment.
  3. Injuries: Slips and falls are a major risk in areas where there is standing water. Businesses may be held liable for any resulting medical costs, workman’s compensation payouts, and potential lawsuits.
  4. Diminished Property Value: Buildings plagued by chronic drainage issues tend to see a drop in their overall value. Potential buyers and investors are wary of properties with a history of water damage, leading to reduced demand and potentially stagnant or depreciating values. Your building is an asset, and it’s essential to protect that asset.

Given the tremendous expense that inadequate drainage can bring, it pays (literally) to invest in quality systems upfront and create proactive maintenance plans.

Ask yourself: Is my current drainage system up to the task? What proactive measures can I take to prevent drainage issues in the future? The answers may be worth far more than you think.

Types of Commercial Drainage Solutions

Proper drainage can be the difference between an asset and a liability. Fortunately, commercial drainage solutions come in many forms, and businesses have plenty of options to choose from.

Let’s take a look at some of the most effective options for keeping your drainage system flowing freely:

Roof Drainage Solutions

As we mentioned before, roofs are prime targets for water intrusion and damage. But the right roof drainage system will divert even the most intense rain away from your building.

Quality systems should include:

  • Gutters and Downspouts: Gutters and downspouts are essential components of roof drainage systems. Regular maintenance, such as clearing debris and checking for leaks, is crucial to keep water flowing. Gutter guards can be added to protect them from clogs, and downspout extensions can be placed underground or connected to a drainage ditch to redirect runoff.
  • Roof Slope Adjustments: If your building has a flat roof or insufficient slope, adjusting the slope can improve drainage and minimize standing water issues.
  • Roof Drains and Scuppers: Roof drains are a type of roof outlet used to collect runoff and route it away from the building. Scuppers are openings in the walls or parapets that allow rainwater to drain out of the roof and away from the walls. These drainage points should be regularly inspected, cleaned, and maintained to prevent blockages and ensure smooth water flow.

Surface Water Management Solutions

If you’ve ever stepped out of your car and into a puddle, then you know how frustrating surface water issues can be. From parking lots and sidewalks to driveways and walkways, the right drainage solutions can help you prevent water buildup in these busy areas.

Surface water management solutions include:

  • Grading and Sloping: Grading is the process of reshaping or leveling soil to improve drainage. Sloping involves adjusting ground elevations to ensure water flows away from the building and into a drainage ditch or basin. Using the natural lay of the land can help you create an efficient, low-maintenance drainage system that also enhances your property’s aesthetics.
  • Permeable Surfaces and Green Infrastructure: Utilizing permeable surfaces, such as porous pavement or permeable pavers, allows rainwater to soak into the ground, reducing runoff. Green infrastructure features like rain gardens, rainwater harvesting systems, or bioswales can also help absorb and filter rainwater, mitigating the strain on drainage systems. As a plus, they make for beautiful landscaping elements and help preserve the local ecosystem!
  • Catch Basins, Swales, and Retention Ponds: Catch basins collect runoff from roof downspouts or other surface drainage points and direct it to a nearby drainage ditch or pond. Swales are shallow channels lined with rocks that help guide water away from structures. Retention ponds temporarily store large amounts of water before slowly releasing it back into the environment.

Basement and Foundation Drainage Solutions

Most properties south of the Mason-Dixon line aren’t built with basements, but it’s still important to be mindful of foundation and crawl space drainage. Because water runs downhill, the lowest level and foundation of a building can be vulnerable to flooding if there isn’t proper drainage in place.

Common basement and foundation drainage solutions include:

  • Sump Pumps and Drain Tile Systems: A sump pump is a device that detects water in basements and crawl spaces and pumps it away from the property. Drain tile systems consist of perforated pipes laid around the foundation to collect and route groundwater to the sump pump.
  • French Drains: French drains are trenches filled with gravel and perforated pipes that divert water away from the foundation of a structure. These systems can be installed around the entire perimeter of the building or in specific areas.
  • Waterproofing and Moisture Control: Applying waterproof coatings, sealing foundation cracks, and installing proper insulation can help reduce moisture levels and mitigate the risk of flooding. Dehumidifiers and adequate ventilation are moisture control measures that can also play a role in maintaining a dry, mold-free basement.

Customized Drainage Solutions with Lee Company

No two buildings are alike. That’s why it’s crucial to partner with a commercial plumbing company that can create customized drain solutions based on your:

  • Building size and layout
  • Location and climate
  • Soil conditions
  • Drainage points

In Tennessee, diverse topography and varying rainfall patterns demand effective drainage to prevent flooding and water damage. Bowling Green, Kentucky’s rich soil necessitates specialized solutions for managing stormwater runoff and erosion. In Huntsville, Alabama, 54 inches of annual rainfall makes robust drainage systems absolutely essential. Since 1945, Lee Company has been the trusted expert in commercial drainage solutions across these three states.

We can help you identify the best drainage solutions for your commercial building. And our comprehensive services encompass:

Don’t let inadequate drainage dampen your business’ success. Partner with Lee Company, leveraging our commercial plumbing expertise to create tailored solutions that secure and safeguard your commercial property. Contact our team today!

Do you need drainage solutions for your facility?

CALL US NOW AT 615.567.1000