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Home COFSAB Forum Condo Owners Forum Q&A Water Back-Up – Who’s Responsible

  • Water Back-Up – Who’s Responsible

    Posted by Graham Ellis on October 1, 2023 at 2:09 pm

    Long story short, dark water from the plumbing stack in our building backed up into a sink in one of the units; it flowed over the sink and onto the floor, damaging the floor and the ceiling of the unit below. The repair cost is below the Condo Insurance deductible.

    Half the condo board is saying that the damage to the unit below is the responsibility of the unit owner, who suffered the plumbing back from the drainage stack, and they should cover the cost; however, we have found out that they don’t have insurance to cover that.

    I understand that there were some changes in the condo act to cover damage caused by unit owners; however, this backup was caused by a blockage in the stack considered common property. Not because the unit owner left the tap on.

    One other issue, the back up into the sink happened when it rained. The last back happened when a condo board member took a garden hose and put it into the stack to see if that was the issue.

    Terry Gibson replied 2 months ago 4 Members · 4 Replies
  • 4 Replies
Please spread the word!
  • Dana Bouwman

    October 1, 2023 at 2:23 pm

    Sorry to hear that this happened!

    Kitchen sink backups caused from a block in the stack are generally going to be condo corporation responsibility. I think the exception is if the condo has had its kitchen stacks cleaned in the last 5-10 years then you could argue the unit below caused the backup.

    Even when the unit has insurance, it’s often a tossup if the adjuster will pay for the loss. It really depends on if the condo corporation can prove they have done regular maintenance to the kitchen stacks, and there is a plumbers report that says the unit caused the blockage in the stack.

    Please spread the word!
  • Mark Hambridge

    October 1, 2023 at 4:09 pm

    Our corporation cleans the stacks every couple of years, from the kitchen sinks to the stack (with a power auger) and finally from the bottom of the stack upwards to ensure everything has been cleared out. It costs the corporation money, but it is cheaper than increased insurance claims, whether by the corporation or an individual. The garden hose from the top issue is averted!

    Our kitchen waste pipes are 2000 vintage plastic, connecting to a 1979 vintage cast iron stack. In some cases, the power auger ‘cleans’ from one kitchen across to the neighbour’s sink. The last time he was here, the plumber told me the best plastic pipe cleaning tool is hot water and concentrated ordinary dishwashing fluid – don’t use those strong chemicals from the grocery or hardware store!

    Please spread the word!
  • Mark Hambridge

    October 1, 2023 at 4:21 pm

    Another point for the corporation to monitor: now we are experiencing more frequent heavy rainfalls between droughts, it will be essential to ensure the drain connections to the municipality are well cleaned as well. Under one of our underground garages, there is a known ‘low spot’ in the storm sewer connection to the city services. This must be flushed periodically to ensure gravel and solids don’t settle and cause a blockage. This might be part of the cause for the original backup, causing the sink to overflow!

    Please spread the word!
  • Terry Gibson

    October 2, 2023 at 7:07 am

    I generally agree with Mark and Dana. My 2¢

    The plumbing stacks are a condo responsibility to maintain.

    If the loss is below the deductible, then it is the condo’s financial responsibility to pay.

    Q. What is a condo owner doing trying to play plumber with a hose?

    Professional cleaning of stacks should be done proactively and is a wise move.

    Please spread the word!

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