5 Sources of Hidden Apartment Leaks
Any kind of leak or water penetration into an apartment is a serious concern for property managers. This is because leaks that go unchecked inevitably lead to a variety of water damage related problems. These can include small problems like unpleasant odors and damaged furniture, or catastrophic problems such as rampant mold growth or structural damage to floors and walls.
As a result, knowing sources of hidden apartment leaks is crucially important for property managers. When property managers understand where leaks typically develop, they can be proactive in preventing leaks before they occur. While there are many reasons for leaks in apartment units, property managers should be familiar with frequent offenders.
1. In-Unit Washing Machines
While in-unit washers are one of the most coveted apartment amenities, they are also a common source of leaks in apartments. As a result, property managers should have a maintenance professional double check them for leaks during every turnover. It is also important to make sure the drip pan underneath the unit is dry and in good condition. Worn out drip pans should be replaced.
Another good practice during the washer inspection is draining the machine. Some units will hold water internally, creating a potential leak. This is especially important if a unit will be vacant for an extended period of time. Click here to read more about laundry equipment leases for multifamily properties and find a qualified laundry equipment vendor.
2. HVAC Equipment
Another potential source for hidden apartment leaks is the HVAC equipment. Leaks can form around central cooling systems, hot water heaters, mini split and thru wall systems, and window units. When a unit turns over, property managers should have their maintenance team or a qualified mechanical contractor inspect the equipment.
In markets that experience extreme summer temperatures, condensation accumulation on HVAC ductwork is another potential leak source. The typical solution for these types leaks is sealing and insulating ducts in problem areas. While these leaks are usually discovered after it is too late, property managers can use turnovers to take preventative measures in other units before a similar leak occurs.
3. Kitchen Appliances & Fixtures
Kitchen appliances and fixtures are common sources of hidden apartment leaks. Unfortunately, a small leak from a dishwasher or refrigerator can be hard to find because they are out of sight. Water can easily drip and pool behind a refrigerator or dishwasher unnoticed until it begins damaging flooring or the ceiling of the unit below. In a worst case scenario, this can lead to mold.
Similar to in-unit washers, kitchen appliances and fixtures should always be inspected during a turnover for loose connections, leaks, and drips. A quick double check under the kitchen sink is also a good idea. These preventative steps can help property managers avoid water damage and mold issues in apartments.
4. Windows & Exterior Doors
Poorly sealed windows and exterior doors can result in leaks inside apartment units. Water running down a building’s façade can penetrate into apartments around windows or sneak under a poorly installed sliding glass balcony doors.
Like the other sources of hidden apartment leaks on this list, window and exterior door leaks are often undetectable until it is too late. If window and door leaks occur in multiple units, property managers should find a masonry contractor to reseal or caulk the entire building. This is especially true in older buildings because it is likely all the window and door seals are beginning to fail.
5. Gutters & Downspouts
One of the most frustrating sources of hidden apartment leaks can actually be the gutters and downspouts. This is because damaged or clogged gutters do not properly drain water when it rains or snows. As a result, water overflows from the gutters and runs down the face of the building. These types of leaks often occur around the foundation or poorly sealed windows.
Annual roof inspections are a great time to double check the gutters. Property managers should require their roofing contractor to inspect and service the gutters in any preventative maintenance contract. This should include both cleaning out the gutters and downspouts and testing them to ensure they are not leaking.
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