Vendors Innovate to Stop & Detect Toilet Leaks, Prevent Related Flooding - By Glenn Hasek

One leaky toilet can lose about 75,000 gallons of water annually. This adds significantly to water and sewage costs. In some instances leaks can result in flooding - an even more expensive scenario for a hotel owner.

Green Lodging News Experts agree that, at any one time, about 15 to 20 percent of toilets are leaking. They leak for many different reasons—faulty fill valves, bad fill valve seals, corrosion and faulty flappers are some examples. Leaks often go undetected by guests, housekeepers and maintenance personnel. One leaky toilet can lose about 75,000 gallons of water annually. This adds significantly to water and sewage costs. In some instances leaks can result in flooding - an even more expensive scenario for a hotel owner. At least two companies have developed solutions to either stop toilet leaks or detect them so that costs can be controlled and proper maintenance performed. The first company, Sarasota, Fla.-based Aqua Mizer Inc. has developed toilet tank fill valves designed to prevent the tank from refilling in the presence of a leak and to turn off the fill valve if a flood should occur. The product line also includes specially designed 2" adjustable flappers and 3" rigid flappers with replaceable gaskets. Aqua Mizer says its system, on average, can reduce water waste by 20 percent.

According to Michael Sisti, Sales/Marketing Executive for Aqua Mizer, a standard fill valve is controlled by the float in the tank. It runs up and down the fill valve. There is no control over the action of the fill valve. “With ours, the fill valve is controlled by the handle,” Sisti says. “If there is a leak present, all the water will run out of the tank and it will not refill. It corrects itself.”

“Our system offers flood protection,” Sisti adds. “If the bowl is clogged and you have a flood, our system will sense if the tank is not filling up and will shut itself off in 30 seconds.”

Westin Hotel Eliminates Toilet Flooding

Prior to installing fill valves from Aqua Mizer, the Westin Convention Center, Pittsburgh experienced about a dozen toilet-related floods a year. “They have not had a flood since putting our system in,” Sisti says. The Delta Vancouver Suites (B.C.) has seen a 10 percent water consumption reduction since using Aqua Mizer’s fill valves. Since implementing the fill valves at four of its Orlando properties, Key Properties Group says total water usage dropped from an average of 7,000 gallons a day to 4,000 gallons.

Brentwood, Tenn.-based Leak Beeper offers a different approach to leak prevention. Its Leak Beeper device connects to the overflow tube within the tank. Each device has a radio in it. The Leak Beeper can detect when water is refilling a water tank due to a reason other than a deliberate flush. The Leak Beeper’s sensor detects “normal” and “abnormal” water flows into the toilet’s tank via the refill tube. On installation, the toilet is flushed to let the sensor know what normal water flow “feels” like. Any flow that deviates from the normal flow is detected as an abnormal refill, indicating a potential leak. The Leak Beeper detects leaks due to both short and long flush issues and signals them differently to help accurately diagnose the problem. An example of a short flush issue is a faulty flapper. A long flush issue example is a flapper chain getting stuck under the flapper.

Unique to the Leak Beeper is its communication capabilities. Once the Leak Beeper determines that abnormal flows represent a leak, the leak indication is e-mailed or texted to on-site personnel on a daily or even hourly basis.

Significant Savings Proven

James Brackett, CEO of Leak Beeper, says his company’s device installs very quickly. “We know a property begins to save money immediately,” he says. In a test at the 79-room Fairfield Inn & Suites Fort Worth University Drive (Texas), the Leak Beeper was installed on guestroom toilets. Leak indications were reported and addressed on a daily basis. During a 15-month period after installation, general water consumption decreased by 22 percent and water cost Per-Occupied Room (POR) fell by 25 percent. Total savings was $4,607. The study demonstrated that a significant number of leaks were occurring at the property, but were not being reported by guests and were not being discovered by maintenance or housekeeping personnel.

In regard to system cost, Aqua Mizer and Leak Beeper take different approaches. Aqua Mizer’s Sisti says most users of its toilet tank fill valves, which cost about $25 per unit, can expect a return on their investment in less than a year. “In a condo property we had an ROI in just three months,” he says. Leak Beeper, which has been installing its system in the Atlanta area, is currently charging an installation fee of $10 per toilet and then a monthly monitoring fee of $5 per toilet per month. The company’s aim is to be in markets where rates are high enough that customers’ savings are greater than the monthly fee. “We guarantee they will at least meet costs,” Brackett says.

This article first appeared on the Green Lodging News website. To sign up to receive the weekly Green Lodging News newsletter, go to www.greenlodgingnews.com. Glenn Hasek can be reached at editor@greenlodgingnews.com.

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