Flexibility for the future of water system design for multi occupancy

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As the UK housing market sees an increase in demand, multiple occupancy dwellings are becoming the ideal solution to quickly and efficiently meet demand.

However, designers, contractors and installers have much to consider when making recommendations and selecting components for water systems, especially in multiple occupancy buildings, with water management being a priority.

Stephanie Allchurch, Product Development Manager at Altecnic explores how component flexibility, from design, to install, and finally to maintenance, can be beneficial to whole building systems.

Multiple occupancy buildings

With increased competition for securing development land, it is obvious why multiple occupancy buildings are becoming more popular. The speed at which modern buildings are required to be designed and then built, to meet the growing demand, means that designers and contractors must look for componentry which is fast to specify and install. Of course, this presents numerous challenges for designers, who must also consider ways in which they can prevent issues occurring throughout the whole building design.

Water systems in multiple occupancy buildings present a unique set of challenges for a designer, with issues to consider such as design compliance, water hammer, potential leaks, pipe freezing, access to servicing points, pipe configuration, and the complexity of the install itself. Due to this, designers must seek out components that reduce the impact of these issues, make compliance to regulations easier, and optimise the water supply for each self-contained apartment.

Ensuring water system design compliance

Designing any type of water system can be complex, with many considerations needing to be made. With dwellings now becoming taller and larger than ever before, this complexity continues to increase, with designers needing to consider how to create a system with all required valves, which is efficient, compliant, and does not compromise on space.

The Water Supply (Water Fitting) Regulations 1999, require that each individual premise in a multi-occupancy building be supplied with a stop valve and suitable backflow prevention device, such asa single or double check valve, or other no less effective back flow prevention device, according to the level of risk as judged by the water undertaker. Furthermore, wherever practicable hot and cold service pipes should include sufficient draining taps to facilitate the draining of all supply and distributing pipes within the building.

In addition to this, under the Water Industry Act 1991, for every self-contained apartment or flat in a multi-occupancy build, there must be an individual water meter fitted to the supply pipe, regardless of whether it is a new build or a retrofit.

Moreover, the inclusion of a pressure reducing valve to this valve selection is advantageous as you can ensure the pressure from the system is controlled, and protection is provided to each individual property.

Addressing common design and installation problems

To comply with the above standards and regulation, selecting individual valves, which must then be fitted and tested by plumbers on installation, can be extremely time consuming at both the design and installation phases. This approach can also contribute to additional maintenance problems.

One of the most common problems with water systems is leaks from poorly installed components. The quality of the workmanship, and the time and care needed to ensure this is overcome, is a consideration that must be had when a designer specifies the componentry in the water system, as surplus time is often not available.

Another common problem is the freezing of pipes. Often, a designer will need to consider the location and the temperatures that the pipes will likely to be subjected to when installed. Lack of insulation around the pipes and fittings can lead to the loss of water supply due to freezing and splitting of components. For the insulation to be effective, the workmanship at installation must be of a high standard to prevent any opportunity for the cold to penetrate the system.

A further issue faced by designers, and eventually installers, is access to the components for maintenance. To ensure that the water system maintains the designed quality and efficiency, a system should be designed in a way that ensures easy access for maintenance. This can be difficult where designers wishing to optimise space for the apartments themselves can then only provide minimal space for the system install.

Finding a solution for designers and installers

Manufacturers of water system componentry should always consider design, installation and maintenance when developing solutions for multiple occupancy projects, especially as the popularity of this building type continues to grow. By offering practical solutions to the common problems that are faced, a manufacturer can help to progress the overall compliance, quality, and performance of water system design.

Well-designed water meter assemblies that offer a monobloc as a standalone product, with an option for a wide range of water meters to be connected, provide flexibility of install and design to meet the needs of each individual apartment.

For example, the development of a monobloc that combines the key components needed for the water supply to a single dwelling in a multi occupancy building is an ideal solution to assist at every stage of the building and maintenance process. A monobloc, with the addition of a water meter, enables the required components to be combined in a compact unit. Thus, reducing any potential leak points whist still allowing the monitoring and control of water supply whilst saving space, as well as time, at both the design and install stages.

For example, the Altecnic Apartment Control Assembly allows designers, and installers the flexibility to control and monitor water supply for any individual self-contained apartment in multi-occupancy dwellings. The monobloc contains a full-bore spherical stop valve, self-contained pressure reducing cartridge and single check valve, with union connection for direct connection to a water meter.

This modular approach means that the valve assembly can be ordered as a standalone monobloc, with the option to add a moulded insulation cover and gauge, a non-pulsed water meter, a water meter with MBUS connectivity, or a class D water meter. Importantly, there is no requirement for additional adaptors to be used with any water meter configuration, saving additional time and cost at install.

As multiple occupancy buildings continue to be an effective solution to meet housing demand, the requirement for water system componentry to offer flexibility for varying applications will assist in delivering greater efficiency overall. For example, saving time, money, and most importantly providing safe controlled water to each home.

Click here to find out more: www.altecnic.co.uk/apartment%20control%20assembly