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Home / Et cetera / Check Your Water Heater!

Check Your Water Heater!

By April 24, 2017

Et cetera

TL;DR – replace your water heater before it leaks.

About a year later, I’m ready to blog about one of my condo’s water heater leaking and flooding five floors.

Last year, one of my condo’s homeowners association was discussing proactively replacing all the hot water heaters for the building. Thinking this was a good idea, I decided that for my other condo, I would replace my hot water heater since that homeowners association wasn’t discussing doing it. So on Thursday May 5, 2016 I called a few places for water heater quotes. One of the quotes was reasonable and they could come that Saturday to replace it. Not wanting to spend a Saturday coordinating this, I decided to wait until the next week. Well, that Sunday, which was Mother’s Day, we were having a family dinner when my email started to blow up.

“Seems to be flooding coming from Unit #304. Not sure if it’s a pipe busted, or another broken water heater. We ought to get this identified ASAP in case we need to shut off water somewhere, and also folks in above/below and adjacent units and check for damage.”

Whew! I’m 504. Back to dinner.

“Guys from unit #304 just emerged (not sure why they weren’t answering…), but the water is apparently coming from ABOVE on the fourth floor.
Anyone on the 4th Floor, please check around to see if you have water leaking into your units.”

Whew! I’m 504. Back to dinner.

“If you put your ear to the wall of #504, you can HEAR water flowing… this is very concerning, since it seems that we have water being pumped from 5, but not coming out into the hallway until the 3rd floor…”

Oh shit!

I rush over there and sure enough my water heater (technically the expansion tank on top) was spraying water all over the place and has now flooded units on the 4th, 3rd, 2nd floors as well as the lobby on the 1st. I turn the water off and meet with the water remediation folks who start tearing out flooring, cutting open walls and installing huge fans to begin the long process of drying the building out.

It took months for the remediation work and when everything was settled drying the building out cost me $16,088 and fixing the damage was $9,580. Fortunately insurance took care of most of that $25,668 bill, which could have been a lot higher had someone not found the leak sooner!

So… check your hot water tank’s manufacturer date (look at the serial number) or installation date, replace it before it leaks, install a water alarm, and ensure you have adequate insurance coverage.

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