Damage from water is a common problem for condo and townhome associations. The causes of water damage come of number of issues: pipe leaks; washing machine hose leaks; backed-up toilets/sinks/tubs; leaking water heaters; and, leaking connections between household appliances like a dishwasher or refrigerator ice-maker. Damage from water often causes significant insurance claims – increasing the cost of insurance for the association and all unit owner members.
While risk of water leaks and resulting damage cannot be completely eliminated there are pro-active steps an association should consider to eliminate some of the more common problems.
- Communicate to your homeowners. At least once a year feature an article in your association newsletter about preventative steps each unit owner can take to head-off a larger problem for everyone – don’t ignore slow running drains/toilets, call a plumber immediately; consider changing in-unit washing machine hoses from rubber (black/gray) to metal braided, the rubber hoses only have a useful life of 3-5 years before they leak/burst; and consider an annual check of all water connections either by the unit owner or a plumber.
- Association board members who perform periodic safety/maintenance checks should include a review of any common area water connections – water heaters, laundry rooms, restrooms, etc. Replacement of washing machine hoses, under the sink and other water connectors should be part of your reserve study for future costs.
- The association may consider having a certified home/building inspector review all the plumbing within the complex every few years, the extra expense could be worth the aggravation of a preventable major leak.