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1/22/2015 - Water Heater Failures in Condos

The warrantee period on the water heater tanks in the condos is six years and we are now at the eight year mark and the clock is ticking.

So far, four water heaters have failed in the condos - three catastrophically, resulting in major flooding of the unit and some flooding of surrounding units, and one that showed signs of leaking and was replaced before it burst. As for the townhomes and apartments, no failures have been reported to date.

That said, the rest of this article will focus on the condos since the apartments can deal with the problem as a business decision and the townhome water heaters are located in the garage and thus pose little risk of flooding damage.

So here is the story for condo unit owners and tenants.

Replacement of the water heater is a unit owner responsibility and given the amount of damage caused by failed units flooding, unit owners should be making plans now to replace their water heater - before it fails and costs twice as much or more in damage to the unit and adjacent units.

Note: By law, the unit with the leaking water heater is responsible for any damage to their unit and the common areas of the building but not for any damage caused to other units, the assumption being that each unit has their own insurance for their unit. However, the other units may sue the unit owner that caused the water leak for damages.

As for replacement options, unit owner's can choose any vendor they wish. But as a help, the condo association has obtained quotes and the best was from Buckeye Plumbing who is the plumber for the Green Cay Village Associations. The cost is $865.39 including tax (major credit cards accepted) for a non-emergency replacement and includes installation of a new American Residential Electric Lowboy Model Number E61-40L-045DV and removal of the old unit.

In the meantime, you should be checking your unit for signs of leaks and if you see any signs, like rusting as seen in the picture below, you should not wait any longer because the end is near and it wouldn't be pretty.

Also, you should be familiar with how to turn the water off in the event the water heater is leaking. The shut-off valves for both your main water and your water heater are located over your water heater in the air handler closet.

Above - The closest blue valve turns off the water to only your water heater. The harder to reach blue valve, circled in red, turns off all of the water in your unit including the water heater, but not the fire sprinklers, which can only be turned off for the entire building by the fire department.

More when I know more.

Peter Schulz - Editor - Email TCR

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