Water Damage in Condos: Know the Risks

Zach Goldglas

If you’re one of the millions of Canadians living in a condo, it often feels like you don’t have to sweat the small stuff. You worry about the goings-on inside your unit and expect that your condo corporation will take care of the rest so long as you pay your maintenance fees. Unfortunately, the reality is that water damage is not always something that your condo corporation will completely take care of for you.

Water damage in condos can often become a murky, contentious issue for a number of reasons:

1. Water damage originating from your unit can cause damage to any number of other units in the building, particularly if your unit is located on an upper floor.

2. Just as you can cause damage to other units, water damage in condos owned by other tenants can damage your condo as well. In these situations, your condo may decide to stay out of it, forcing you to deal with the other owner directly.

3. If you rent out your condo to a tenant and their actions cause water damage, some (or all, if they don’t have any tenant insurance) of the liability can be passed on to you.

4. Leaks originating outside the condo (such as from excessive rain, snow or flooding) that seep into your unit may leave you liable for water damage inside the condo. This would depend on whether or not the damage can be proven to be a result of negligent maintenance on building management’s part.

To further complicate this issue, depending on by-laws specific to your building, your condo corporation’s insurance may not even be fully liable for leaky pipes in the walls. One example might be in situations where the condo corporation board or its employees are not directly responsible. For further reading on the specifics of these by-laws in Ontario, check out this great post on the Hamilton Spectator: Legal Matters: Water damage and your condo – who’s responsible?

Also, if you’re not aware of Kitec plumbing, make sure to get up to speed. Kitec plumbing (under various brand names) was extremely popular in houses and condominiums constructed between 1995 and 2007 due to its low cost and ease of installation compared to traditional copper pipes. This popularity means that if your building was constructed between those years there is a strong chance that you have Kitec plumbing in your building. Unfortunately, Kitec plumbing was proven to be largely defective, with many Kitec pipes deteriorating to the point of bursting and causing significant water damage as early as 2005. Despite knowing the potential risks, many of the affected buildings have decided to keep this plumbing in place as replacing entire plumbing systems can be expensive.

To make matters worse, if it was disclosed to you that Kitec plumbing is present in your unit, or the plumbing is visible (in such as way that it would be discovered during a home inspection), then you can be held liable for damages resulting from its failure.

All that said; you’re not powerless! You can take action to prevent water damage from becoming a catastrophe in your condo:

1. Be aware of what your condo/tenant insurance covers. If you rent out your unit, require that your tenants have a comprehensive tenant insurance policy that covers water damage.

2. Speak to your condo board to see if there are any condo-specific by-laws regarding water damage, and adjust your condo insurance policy accordingly.

3. If your condo was built between 1995 and 2007, check inside your unit for Kitec plumbing or ask your condo board about it directly. See what your condo board’s policy regarding Kitec plumbing failures – who’s responsible?

4. Consider installing smart water sensors inside your unit at key failure points such as under sinks, in your washroom, near washing machines and other key appliances to detect if a leak occurs inside your unit. Eddy Home’s H20 Sensor measures moisture and humidity and can immediately alert you to a detected leak via our My Eddy Home App. This allows you to get in contact with property management or a neighbour to stop the leak before it becomes a big problem, even if you’re away from home.

5. Check whether or not your condo has a building-wide smart water management system. These systems measure water flow to each unit and detect unusual water flows resulting from leaks. Here at Eddy Home, we offer a complete water management system that is tailored to your building. The system allows property management to pinpoint the exact location of a leak in the building. They can then shut-off the water supply to that unit to ensure that the leak is contained before becoming a source of water damage.

Ultimately, like with any kind of risk, being proactive about protecting your condo from water damage is key.

 

About Eddy Home

Founded in 2014, Eddy Home is an industry leader in leak protection and water visibility solutions. Our suite of smart products offers a comprehensive water management system for homeowners that protects, controls, and conserves. Our products have saved thousands of customers millions of litres of water by continuously monitoring water usage in their home, and if something unusual is detected, alerting them to the issue. For more details, please contact us at 1 877 388 3339 or email info@eddyhome.com.