Connected technology transforming social housing

social housing
Connected technology transforming social housing 3

Brand new technology that makes it possible to stay ahead of heating system breakdowns is revolutionising the way social housing providers manage large numbers of properties.  

Helen Isherwood, Managing Director at ADEY considers how predicting when intervention is needed will help to save money, reduce carbon emissions, ensure contractor compliance and maintain tenant comfort. 

The build-up of magnetite and poor water quality is a leading cause of heating system breakdown. When you’re managing a huge number of properties, the potential issues are amplified. For social housing providers, who are increasingly dealing with ever-decreasing budgets but still need to ensure that heating and hot water supplies are maintained for tenants, staying on top of servicing and maintenance is a huge task. 

As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure, which is why a proactive approach to looking after the health of a heating system by implementing a programme of regular and planned maintenance, will help to improve efficiency and reduce the chance of breakdown. But what if you could stay ahead of potential system breakdowns to help prevent costly repairs, system down time and unnecessary disruption for tenants? 

The use of connected water treatment products is helping to do just that; game-changing technology that social housing landlords can use to detect problems before they happen. 

Increased protection for tenants 

A best practice water treatment programme of maintenance and protection is the most effective way to treat the effects of the damage caused by magnetite which can result in increased repair costs, increased carbon emissions and higher energy bills. With squeezed budgets, the push towards net zero and the ongoing cost of living crisis, the benefits of being able to take pre-emptive action before an issue becomes serious, are clear. 

The inconvenience and costs associated with fixing a problem with a heating system is something most people have experienced. For social landlords, it’s a legal requirement under the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 that tenants have access to heating and hot water. So, with ensuring tenant comfort and wellbeing a priority, being able to mitigate any potential system downtime is something that social housing providers should understand more about.  

But when the issue is essentially invisible, is it possible to be able to know in advance whether a problem with water quality is going to cause a potential system break down? Thanks to innovative new technology, the answer is yes. 

Get the tech

In an industry first, ADEY has launched Sense, a range of digitally-enabled water treatment products designed to help social housing landlords effectively maintain heating system health in all their properties, and fix problems before they cause a costly and inconvenient breakdown.  

Sense compatible products, which detect the early signs of an inefficient heating system, are simple to use and install, and allow multiple systems to be remotely monitored on a single platform, making it easy to prioritise maintenance visits and stay ahead of system breakdowns, reducing the cost to serve.  

This includes ADEY ProCheck, a revolutionary digital water test. In just one minute, it tests four main parameters which contribute to boiler breakdown: turbidity, pH, corrosion and inhibitor, with results delivered straight to a smart phone or tablet. Being able to check water quality on-site and instantly receive lab-style results, which can also be emailed as a full report and uploaded to the Sense portal, is hugely beneficial.  

This proactive action while at a property means an ongoing, easily accessible record is kept throughout the tenant lifecycle, whether it’s for a single property or across a wider portfolio. The results from the test also provide proof and validation for both the engineer and the social housing provider that a system has been treated and is working efficiently. It also demonstrates compliance with BS:7593. 

With magnetite and sludge the number one cause of heating system and boiler breakdowns, protecting against this invisible problem can reduce emergency call-outs and extend the life of the boiler, at a time when repair and maintenance (R&M) budgets and boiler replacement schemes are under increasing pressure. 

Effective water treatment will also positively impact tenant comfort and welfare, with clean systems using up to 7% less energy and emitting as much as 47% more heat output, helping residents to save money on their bills while keeping warm. 

Thanks to connected technology, filters in the Sense range will detect when a system needs attention, sending an alert through to the online Sense portal. Using a traffic light system, problems are graded, with amber (medium risk) meaning the filter should be cleaned and a water test carried out at the next visit. While red (high risk) means a visit should be prioritised to test the system, remove magnetite and treat with chemicals sooner.  

Checking water quality annually during a service is an important part of a robust water treatment programme. But water quality can change in the interim, and quickly, leaving a system susceptible to damage and potential breakdown. This could be for a number of reasons including a leak, not enough inhibitor in the system or a change in system chemistry due to unscheduled maintenance. Using ADEY’s Sense technology allows for real-time monitoring and reporting and if a problem is detected and action taken to remedy it, this will help stop costly breakdowns before they happen. 

When you’re managing hundreds of systems, being able to do this all in one place through the Sense portal is not only time efficient but makes it easier to prioritise visits and identify which properties are most at risk. Using ProCheck to test water quality and then uploading the results to the portal will provide an action plan based on how the system needs to be treated. Being able to proactively monitor system health will also help reduce the number of repeat visits and costly repairs. We know that social landlords are keenly reviewing how to reduce the cost to serve, and Sense can make an important contribution. 

With greater industry emphasis being placed on quality and compliance in relation to water treatment, Sense helps ensure that not only is system maintenance and protection being carried out correctly, but that contractors are demonstrating completion of the Benchmark Checklist when a new system is commissioned. This in turn means that requirements are also met for BS:7593 as part of revised Part L of the Building Regulations. 

For social housing or local authority landlords, Sense is the technology you need to ensure the most effective and proactive management of heating system health across your property portfolio. Saving time and money, monitoring quality control and reducing the risk of breakdown, the benefits are comprehensive meaning Sense should be your go-to water treatment tool. 

In a first of its kind project, alongside City Plumbing, Vericon Systems and SHAL Housing, ADEY’s Sense technology has been used to help residents have better protected and more efficient heating systems. Watch the video below to find out more: