Plumbing Leak Protocols at West Ocean
Posted By cphillips on October 18, 2022
The intent of this article is to explain in simple terms how leak events are handled at West Ocean, and what the responsibilities are for all the parties involved. It’s important to note that about 90-95% of the leaks that occur are related to failed components inside individual units for which unit owners are responsible.
Let’s start with “small leak” events. The most common example here would be when the caulking of a unit’s shower/tub fails, or when the shower pan below it or the overflow drain decays to the point of leaking. This usually results in water leaking into the bathroom of the unit directly below. It manifests itself by dripping directly through the ceiling drywall or possibly the light fixture. Small toilet leaks due to a supply line leak or overflow could also cause such a leak, as could a supply line issue from the vanity sink. When this occurs, the front desk is usually contacted, and they help to try to qualify the nature of the leak and assist the resident with contacting the neighbors above and/or adjacent to advise them to immediately stop using the bathroom in question until our Maintenance Staff can fully assess the leak the next day, if it’s after hours. At that point, Management and/or Engineering contacts the parties involved and explains to them each of their responsibilities. For the leak source unit owners, this includes scheduling a plumber immediately to fully source out and repair the leak, and then work with the impacted owners below to ensure any damages caused are repaired—at their expense since the leak damage was caused by a failed component in their unit. Some folks like to get their insurance company involved, which is always recommended. This is an owner to owner issue, and West Ocean owners are responsible for handling matters related to small leaks such as these in a reasonable and responsible manner.
Now, with regard to “Large Leaks/Floods”… The most common examples here would include when an older, unmaintained water heater fails, or when a wax toilet seal that’s never been changed fails, or when a toilet or sink water supply line fails. When something like this happens it could be a gusher or an insidious leak that goes on for days/weeks until finally discovered. Either way, the damage done extends to multiple units and common areas. Per Association policy, the Management Team immediately dispatches an Emergency Restoration company to help with water extraction, moisture detection readings, drying equipment, and overall impact assessment and reporting. This is done on behalf of all impacted residents and to minimize damages to all areas. Typically the restoration company takes the lead and in conjunction with the Management and Engineering teams work with all impacted unit owners to ensure pertinent information is disbursed fully and expeditiously. They handle the leak in 3 phases: 1) Emergency Restoration—includes the steps noted above, 2) Abatement—includes scheduling testing for asbestos, lead, mold and obtaining clearances from the appropriate authorities as necessary, then removing damages building materials that cannot be saved. And 3) Renovations— the restoration of the units to their original condition—including drywall, flooring (depending upon improvements made and insurance coverage provisions , and other damaged components. In some cases the Association or unit owner may utilize a different contractor for the renovation phase.