Off Topic – Experience with Dealing with a Major Water Leak in an Apartment-Condo


By Robert Voss

When you think everything is fine, then something a major happens in your home. No one is there to guide you through this nightmare. I wish someone had taken my hand and said there are the steps to take with dealing with a major water leak. I have decided to write this article to educate the general public on dealing on this topic. I live in a second floor unit.

Before anything happens one needs to have a notebook with emergency contacts when a major event happens. While on scene, try to stop the water leak if it possible. One needs to know if it is either a broken water line or sewage pipe. If it is a water line then shut off the main water valve immediately. This should be by your water heater or in another location within your unit.

Then sewage started backup in the main drain line in both the toilet and bathtub. On my own, I plunged both the toilet and the bathtub. It was not the best idea because it forced too much pressure on the pipes. Next, I placed buckets and towels around the toilet to prevent it from overflowing. At one point, the toilet did over flow. Next, I starting scooping water out of the toilet with a cup and transferred the water into the bathtub. Because the water was rising in the bathtub, I had to take action. Then I got a large bucket and started taking the water out of the bathtub and dumping the water outside in the grass. This was the only thing I could do until the plumber arrives.

Next, I called a local plumber and asked for the first available plumber to help with a clog. When the plumber arrived. There was no major water leak yet. The plumber worked to unclog both the toilet and bathtub pipes with a large 30-foot plumber snake. He was able to get small of the debris out of the main drainpipe. The main drainpipe cleared and the water reseeded.

Then when everything was done, the plumber was writing up the bill when my neighbor below came to me and told me there is water leaking from the ceiling inside her garage. Next, I immediately informed the plumber and looked to survey the damage and begun to search for the water leak by removing some ceiling areas. Eventually, he did find a broken pipe and repaired it.

In this situation here is what needs to happen:

  1. Stop the water source if possible. Clear away items in the area. Place a drop cloth and or buckets to collect water
  2. Make contact with your neighbor if damage is going below your floor.
  3. Call the HOA or Rental Property Management Office immediately!
  4. Contact the on-site building maintenance person
  5. Contact an emergency plumber for call for service and explain what is happening
  6. Start taking photos of the damage before the restoration begins. Take a lot of photos wide and close-up from your smart phone. The insurance company will need these photos in the future.
  7. Do not blame anyone during this process. It won’t help. Be calm if possible.
  8. Call a water damage restoration and removal company to have blowers and dehumidifiers place in the damaged area once repairs have been completed.
  9. Save all pieces of evidence from the incident such as a broken pipe, etc.
  10. Once all repairs have been done, place the blowers and dehumidifier in the damaged area for 3 or more days if needed.
  11. Continue to take more photos of complete repair work.
  12. Contact your insurance company same day or next day if possible and have your policy number ready to make a claim.
  13. Write up a personal timeline and incident report to remember all the facts about this incident for your self. You will need this information in the future.
  14. Wait for a call from the insurance company and a claimer adjuster will set-up an appointment to meet with you.
  15. A claims adjuster will meet you at your home and take a brief recorded statement along with photos of the incident area(s)
  16. Next, the Claims Adjuster will be getting statement from your Property Management, your neighbor, the Community Maintenance Personnel, and the Plumber.
  17. The Claims Adjuster will write up a report within 10-15 days.
  18. The Claims Adjuster will write up a final decision on this matter.
  19. Depending on the out come will decide on who pays for the water damage.
  20. Additional things may happen too.

Finally, if you are ever in this situation then these are some basic guidelines to go by. This article was written from my experience that I went through. It is not to say that other things can’t happen. This writer is no responsible for your own outcome. Good luck.

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