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Ground Floor Condo Plumbing Backup & Leak! #waterdamage #propertybrothers

The disadvantage of owning a ground floor condominium is that “everything flows downhill …” Whenever there is a backup or stoppage, it occurs at the ground level due to gravity. We have owned this particular condo for 27 years, and have never had any major problems with it. Our tenant is perfect because she pays her rent on time every month and rarely calls us for anything! In return, we don’t go up on her rent very often, and when we do, it’s for a discounted amount. We received an email from our tenant regarding water on the floor in the bathroom, and gunk in the kitchen and bathroom sinks. She was out-of-town for her job, but her friend had a key to get in and keep an eye on the condo.

We called the condominium association management office to assist, and of course, they said the problem was in our unit. We called a plumber, and he snaked out the pipe leading from the kitchen to the main. Once he got to the main, he realized there was a stoppage in the main. That is when the situation escalated. The condominium association management sent over their “plumber,” who contends that it is our responsibility to clear out the main pipe, which is ridiculous. In our opinion, the main pipe is in the common area, and we are sure that is the responsibility of the condominium association.

Thankfully, our plumber agreed to snake out the bathroom pipe to the main, and encountered the stoppage again.

The condominium association manager was adamant that the stoppage in the main line was our responsibility, and our master plumber, who had 40 years of experience, plead our case! The condominium association manager had her boss get on the phone and attempted to talk down our master plumber! At the end of the heated discussion, there was no resolution. We cleaned up as well as we could, and counted our blessings. We were relieved that the tenant was out-of-town, and we had time to resolve the situation. We were also thankful that the water on the bathroom floor had not damaged any carpeting in the adjacent bedroom and hallway.

The next morning, we decided to check the condominium association website to see if anyone else in the complex had problems getting the condominium association to repair plumbing problems in the common areas. Bingo! We found a post on the website from the condominium association manager asking residents to refrain from throwing wipes and feminine products in the toilets because it was causing stoppages in the main line of a different building! Apparently, the same problem had occurred a month prior to ours, and the condominium association sent their plumber to insert a camera 50 feet down the main line to find the stoppage and clear it out! We now had written proof, in the condominium association manager’s own words, that it was indeed the condominium association’s responsibility. We sent her an email, forwarded her comments, and asked that she take the same action to resolve our problem. She complied and we received a phone call from her in about an hour, to tell us that that the condominium association’s plumbers were at the property waiting for us!

The condominium association’s plumbers cleared out the main line. What a relief! Next, we have to address the water damage caused by the bathtub hot water valve leaking. Drywall next to the bathtub is soaked!

The wall was so saturated with water that we just pulled it apart!

After clearing out the damaged area, we inspect for mold. Fortunately, we only found small spots so we used Tilex Mold and Mildew Remover Spray, 16 Fluid Ounce (Pack of 3) to take care of it.

We turn on a portable floor fan and leave it on overnight to dry out the area … The next morning, we check the area to make sure it’s dry. Time to cut out the drywall and fit it to the opening.

We nail the drywall to the studs, and fill in the gaps between the new drywall and existing drywall with 3M Patch Plus Primer Lightweight Spackling, 16-Ounce.

We let the spackle dry, then sanded it to make it flush with the wall. Next, we apply Rust-Oleum Corporation 02001 Water Base Primer, 1-Gallon, White.

Since the tenant was out-of-town for a few more days, we decided to refinish the bathtub. The tenant was using a rubber mat in the bathtub, which traps water beneath the mat. A small rust spot was visible, so we used Homax Tough as Tile to refinish the bathtub. New bathtubs are very expensive, so we always make sure we check the condition of the bathtub when we do repairs.

NOTE: This post is being updated as we repair the plumbing leak and address the water damage … We also have to coordinate with condominium management, which can be a challenge. Keep checking back at

Plumbing leaks are one of the most common property management tasks a landlord will encounter. It is not fun, but you take the good with the bad! If you have any property management tips, please share them below:

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The opinions expressed herein are solely those of the Author/WebMaster. Before taking any action, please consult your real estate, financial, and legal advisors.


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