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AquaTrip: A Trip Switch to Save Water

Saving water is absolutely imperative in South Africa and increasingly, other parts of the world as well. AquaTrip can be installed for any kind of property to monitor dynamic water consumption, protecting the entire selected plumbing system. If excessive water is suddenly consumed, AquaTrip initiates immediate halt of water supply to the property. This alerts its occupants of the problem and allows actions to be taken in order to address the problem.

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We propose technology that would equip all buildings where an incoming main water supply is present with a Water Trip Switch, to protect the building against sudden excessive water consumption. This device would continuously monitor and automatically protect all the plumbing pipes, fittings and plumbing related appliances within that property from unexpected leaks.
The device would function in a similar way to an Electricity Trip Switch, which monitors and isolates electrical problems within the property’s wiring, plugs, lights, electrical system and appliances, switching off the power and protecting the homeowner against electrical fires and damage to appliances.

Our proposal is that this same level of protection should be afforded to all the plumbing, pipes, taps, appliances, toilets, urinals, hoses and related fittings in a property.
The installation of a Water Trip Switch – which will identify unknown leaks, taps left running, leaking toilets and urinals, leaking or failed appliances, cracked pipe or leaking fittings and any other plumbing failure. It will also identify and prevent all inadvertent or accidental over use. For example: forgetting the hose pipe when refilling the pool, not turning off the garden sprinkler or having the hose nozzle pop off in the sun, All these features would be very beneficial to the property owner, landlord or householder, both financially and through peace of mind.

The installation of a Water Trip Switch would provide solutions to several major issues that will confront and adversely affect a significant proportion of the public at some time in their lives

(a) Protect residential and commercial property by minimising water damage from unknown leaks, burst pipes or other plumbing failures.

Water leaks are a major cause of property damage.
If these leaks are under the house they can undermine slabs and foundations, compromising the structural integrity of the house, and promoting termite and vermin activity. If these leaks are inside the house, they can damage internal walls and ceilings, woodwork and flooring, fitted units, appliances, electrical wiring, furniture and personal belongings. Both of these types of leaks, whether of a small or large nature, if left unchecked, lead to expensive repair bills and on occasion require the home to be vacated while repairs are made.

If the leak is large enough and occurs over a prolonged period or when the house or apartment is unoccupied or unattended, a total loss event can occur, requiring a full rebuild. This causes unnecessary financial and emotional stress, and domestic upheaval.
The effects of a leak are proportionately worse in cases where the event is in an apartment block, terraced apartment or high rise building, where neighbours alongside and below the affected property are also at risk of water damage and moisture ingress into common wall cavities and electrical wiring between floors

(b) Protect household occupants against potential electric shocks or electrocution

Leaks in cavity walls and ceiling spaces can compromise building structure, electrical fittings and cable joins and in a worst case scenario, a short circuit could create an electric shock safety hazard or even a fire.

“Water is a good conductor of electricity. If water leaks into the light or power circuits in your home, a fault may develop, which could result in a fire or someone experiencing electric shock. As soon as you notice a water leak, have it repaired by a licensed plumber.”

“Water leaking anywhere near electrical sockets / light fittings etc. is a cause for concern as it can cause electric shocks. In the event of an emergency, for example a burst pipe or an urgent leak that is affecting the safety of the electrics, you should take steps yourself such as turning off the water at the main supply tap and turning off the electrics.”

c) Protect household occupants against the adverse health effects of unknown slow leaks causing household mould and rising damp.

”Mould associated with damp buildings can trigger nasal congestion, sneezing, cough, wheeze, respiratory infections and worsen asthma and allergic conditions. People with weakened immune systems; allergies; severe asthma; chronic, obstructive, or allergic lung diseases are more susceptible to these symptoms and other serious health effects”
These conditions are particularly likely to affect the elderly, infirm or disadvantaged householders, who are often unaware of the presence of small leaks which give rise to and perpetuate mould growth.
In particular, asthma sufferers can be most severely affected by unseen internal leaks in walls, under floors and behind furnishings, which give rise to mould and the microscopic spores they release. Asthma is a common condition within the population.

(d) Protect the home owner against excess water bills caused by concealed leaks.
Excess water bills are usually brought about by unknown or concealed leaks caused most commonly by leaking toilets, broken or cracked underground pipes, fatigued or end of service life plumbing fittings, amongst other causes. The leaks usually go unnoticed until the arrival of an excess water bill, which then puts pressure on the family budget, because of their size and unplanned nature. These large excess water bills often cause distress and anxiety, especially affecting the elderly, pensioners and disadvantaged sectors of the community.

(e)Protect commercial and public use washrooms from excess water use and water waste
Billions of litres of water are wasted every year in public and commercial washrooms all over South Africa, caused by aging plumbing, vandalism, fitting failure, excessive use and negligence. This is prevalent in areas where underfunding and/or remote public facility location sometimes prevent maintenance schedules being implemented as regularly as local authorities would like, or where off site commercial landlords are unaware of the problem or unwilling to act on it.

(f) Protect and conserve existing water resources in areas of low supply or restriction, by eliminating water waste within the community by identifying leaks as soon as they occur.

South Africa is a land which suffers from frequent water shortages and drought. The Water Trip Switch would ensure that existing community water supplies would be maximised, by eliminating waste. Water Infrastructure investment would be able to cater for more homes with the same resources, as existing storage facilities would go further.

Water which is not lost to leaks, waste and misuse would remain in the reservoir and could be used more effectively. Longer term this makes the community more sustainable and more water wise. The Water Trip Switch would automatically complete this function, future proofing the community with effective water sustainability, with minimal effort and no cognitive intervention required on the part of the property owner or occupier.

(g) Reduce downstream water processing costs

The volume of wasted water that escapes into the sewerage system from leaking toilets, stuck urinals and other faulty plumbing fittings, is not only lost to the community, but the community pays twice for that water,
(1) once to clean and prepare that water for drinking

(2) Then again to process that water through the sewerage system.

If this lost water can be saved, this reduces loads on sewerage processing stations. On a cumulative scale, as more houses are connected to existing infrastructure, small percentage savings will translate into millions of litres saved, as well as reduced energy costs in processing.

All these costly events can be largely avoided or minimised by protecting dwellings and other buildings with a simple low cost Water Trip Switch.

Uniqueness: 
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Until recently the technology to offer a Water Trip Switch for protection of the building and its entire plumbing system did not exist in an economically viable form. However innovative and ongoing technical developments have lead to it being possible to economically and reliably monitor and control ALL aspects of a plumbing system automatically and continuously from a single fitting.

The installation of a Water Trip Switch would provide solutions to several major issues that will confront and adversely affect a significant proportion of the public at some time in their lives

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Cape Town

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