Recently, a water leak was discovered in a high rise condominium which caused a costly amount of damage to a unit that was recently remodeled. Here are some of the areas to constantly check to make sure any water leak your unit has can be addressed quickly.
1. Hot water heater/tank-Hot water heaters are a constant source of water leaks. Tanks can rupture, fittings can be poorly installed and with three lines going in to and out of the tank, this is one of the biggest sources of water leaks in a condominium. Because hot water heaters can hold upwards of 50 gallons the damage that can be caused is significant. If your hot water heater is ten years old or older, consider having it checked by a plumber.
2. Ice maker lines-Because ice maker lines are typically out of sight, out of mind, noticing a leak rarely occurs until another problem occurs such as a buckled baseboard. Pull out the refrigerator or shine a flashlight behind the refrigerator to make sure your not collecting water.
3. Sinks-Service lines to sinks can be a source of leaks, typically around fittings. As pipes get older they can sometimes develop stress cracks which can develop pin holes where water can leak out.
4. Tubs/Showers-Drains over time will develop cracks or were improperly installed to begin causing water to spill out of the drain and move elsewhere. Caulking around fixtures can become old and deteriorate allowing water to get behind fixtures. Check drains periodically and address any old and deteriorating caulk around faucets.
5. Latent defects-latent defects have to do with original building construction and usually are related to the plumbing that services the entire building. During the real estate boom, buildings were being constructed at a record rate, especially in coastal Florida. With the speed these buildings were coming out of the ground, something was bound to be missed. These service line problems usually manifested within the first five years of a buildings existence but could sometimes take longer. To identify a water service line problem, be aware of the water pressure on higher floors. If for some reason you find you have water pressure one day and none the next, contact your manager to have it checked out.
6. Units adjacent to you and above you-These leaks will sometimes manifest at the baseboard instead of on the ceiling. Check the baseboards around the perimeter of your unit and around the water service areas (consider that the unit directly above you has the same floor plan as you). Units above and over also can produce leaks causing water intrusion to your unit.
7. A/C condensation lines-Your air conditioner is really a big dehumidifier. As air cycles through the unit, it’s dried out but the water has to go somewhere. That somewhere is the condensation line. These condensation lines become plugged with mold, mildew, whatnot and cause this water to back up and overflow into your unit. Pour a capful or two of bleach down the condensate line to get rid of mildew and mold each month.
Some of the tell tale signs of water leaks are of course water or wet spots on your floor. But also cool, damp areas along walls. Run your hands along walls to detect a cool spot, usually 12 inches above the floor. Other signs of water leaks are discoloration on a wall, crown molding and/or baseboards pulling away from walls and caulk joints developing cracks.
Being vigilant about water leaks can save you and your neighbors a very costly repair of flooring, walls, cabinets and baseboards.