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6/18/2015 - Condo Water Heater Letter with Q&As

The following letter was recently mailed to all condo owners with copies hand delivered to all condo residents - Q&As start at bottom of letter.

From: Green Cay Village Condominium Association
Campbell Property Management
12575 Green Cay Farms Blvd.
Boynton Beach, Florida 33437

To: All Unit Owners Via First Class Mail

CC: All Units Via Hand Delivery


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.

Toward avoiding a catastrophic leak, you can have your water heater replaced on a non emergency basis for $915.39 (current price) by contacting the Condo Association’s plumber, Buckeye Plumbing, at 561-282-5393 and asking for the Green Cay Village quoted price which includes removal of the old unit. Or you can use a plumber of your own choosing. However, do-it-yourself replacement is not recommended because the water heater is hard wired to your ac power and it has cemented connections to your water pipes.

In the meantime, you should familiarize yourself and those living in the unit on how to turn the water off in your unit if the tank bursts. A copy of how to do this is included in this mailing.

In addition now would be a good time to make sure your HO-6 homeowner's insurance policy is up-to-date and that your tenant, if any, has a renters insurance policy.

And finally, please note that per our docs, replacement of water heaters and damage done to your unit as a result of a water heater failure is a unit owner’s responsibility and that damage done to any common areas is also a unit owner’s responsibility in the case of negligence on the part of the unit owner and having been given this notice, the responsibility to take action is yours.

If you have questions or need additional information, please call the office at 561-638-1622.

Thank you,

Peter Schulz – Condo President


Q&As - The following are answers to some of the questions that have been received from homeowners and residents since the letter was sent.

Q: Do I have to replace my water heater now?

A: No. The association can not make you replace your water heater unless it is leaking water. However, having been warned of the risks involved, should your water heater fail and cause damage to the common areas or neighboring units, your legal position in a negligence suit is considerably weakened.

Q: Is it just a matter of time before my water heater fails and floods?

A: Not necessarily. Water heaters can fail by leaking or they can just stop heating. Unfortunately there is no way of predicting which way a particular water heater will fail. But so far, the history is not encouraging in that three water heaters have been replaced after failing by flooding, one was replaced because it was leaking, four were replaced because they were rusting and none have been replaced because they were not heating.

Q: Can I have a plumber inspect my water heater to determine what condition it is in?

A: Yes. But this may or may not be helpful because when water heaters fail catastrophically, the failure is usually a result of a rusting out at the seam in the back of the tank which is covered by insulation and the outer shell of the water heater. And in any event an inspection does not get you off the hook should the water heater fail and flood.

Q: Is the Developer replacing their water heaters at this time?

A:Currently the Developer is only replacing water heaters in their units that show signs of leaking i.e. rusting on the outside jacket of the water heater as seen in the picture below.

Q: Can I wait to replace my water heater until it shows signs of rusting, as seen in the picture above?

A: If your water heater is rusting it should be replaced ASAP because it means that water is leaking. However there is no guarantee that rusting will be visible before a water heater fails catastrophically.

Q: Who has to pay for the damage to my unit if the water heater in the unit above fails and the water leaks into my unit?

A: Per Florida Statute 718.111(11)(f), each unit is responsible for the contents in their unit including all personal property within the unit or limited common elements, and floor, wall, and ceiling coverings, electrical fixtures, appliances, water heaters, water filters, built-in cabinets and countertops, and window treatments, including curtains, drapes, blinds, hardware, and similar window treatment components, or replacements of any of the foregoing which are located within the boundaries of the unit and serve only such unit.

However, homeowners that have sustained damage to their personal property i.e. everything covered under Florida Statute 718.111(11)(f)), have the option to pursue legal action against a negligent homeowner.

Q: What can I do to reduce my exposure to flooding until I have my water heater replaced?

A: Familiarize yourself with how to turn the water off in your unit and for the whole building in the event that someone else's unit floods and they are not home. Click here for details.

Also, you can get a simple water leak detector for less $20 that you can put in the drain pain under your water heater. As for installing a more expensive leak detector that shuts the water off if a leak is detected, there probably isn't enough room above the water heater to install one.

And finally, if you plan to be away for an extended time period, shut off the hot water valve on your water heater and turn off the power in your breaker panel to your hot water heater. And leave a key to your unit with a neighbor and let the Property Manager know who this person is.

Q: Are there any deals that are better than the $915.39 price quoted in the letter?

A: Per my neighbor ""I have a contract with Service America. They are willing to replace my water heater for $775 because of my contract. They are also willing to extend the price to anyone else in the neighborhood, as long as it's the same setup as mine." You might want to check it out - Jerry at 561-226-7410 x 4215. However, whoever you get a quote from, make sure that the quote includes removal of the old heater and a permit to do the work - not all quotes do.

Q: Can I install a tankless water heater instead?

A: Probably not. The problem is that there is not enough power from the breaker box due to the high current draw of tankless water heaters and thus rewiring from the breaker panel with a heavier breaker switch ( like a 60 amp breaker), much heavier wire, and probably a separate conduit, would be required. As for the economics, Consumer Reports says they are not financially ready for prime time.

Peter Schulz - Editor - Email CM

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