Help! My condo roof is leaking!
August 15, 2011 11:32 AM   Subscribe

Condo roof is leaking into my top floor unit. Has anyone experienced this issue and can offer any advice?

Yesterday during a heavy thunderstorm I noticed the ceiling vent thingy (the technical term) began to leak in my bathroom. I'm on the top floor, so I assume it's coming from a roof leak.

I've lived in the unit 4 years and this is the first time I've noticed it. I assume that my association will need to fix the leak but I'm wondering what I should do to make sure its fixed correctly and to make sure they also fix any other damage that this may have caused and prevent future problems (structural damage, undiscovered leaks elsewhere in the unit, mold, etc.)

Other than notifying the condo and asking them to repair it, what other steps should I take to make sure this is handled correctly? Should I hire my own roof person to come in and look at it? Do I need to notify my condo insurance company? Should I let the other top floor residents know about this?

Also, if you've lived through this I'd love to hear about your experience. Google-ing this has yielded nothing but horror stories and I need some reassurance that this is not going to be a big nightmare
posted by my_thai to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This sounds like it would vary pretty considerably depending on your condo association.

My association is only seven units and all owners are responsible for addressing their fair share of repairs, so the way it would work for me would likely be: (1) send email to the group and determine whether anyone else is affected; (2) get quotes to fix it; (3) get permission to spend that money; (4) get the roof repaired; (5) get reimbursed.

If you're in a larger association, then the trustee group or management company is likely required to deal with getting it repaired -- all you have to do is report the problem. If you're concerned about their ability to handle it, you could bring in someone on your own to diagnose the problem and send that information on to the association in the hopes that they will repair it appropriately. Then you just need to keep an eye on it and determine whether the association has done what it's required to do.

If anything within your unit has been damaged, then you'd need to work with your condo insurance company to address that. I don't think you mentioned any damages in your question.

Really, it sounds like what you're wondering is whether you should trust the association to correctly fix the problem -- that's not something anyone here can tell you based on what you've presented. If you're worried about it and want to spend your own money getting it checked out, that's certainly something you can do.
posted by cranberry_nut at 11:55 AM on August 15, 2011

Pure speculation: It might not be a roof leak - if it was leaking from the exhaust fan it *could just be the cap on whatever the exhaust fan is vented to. Even better, if there was high wind the cap might be fine but the wind was just right to blow water in anyway.

Or you could need a new roof etc etc omg yep it's awful.
posted by kris.reiss at 12:18 PM on August 15, 2011

kris.reiss has it. Very many roof leaks are at the seal in the flashing where a vent passes through the roofing (pipe boot). Very many of those are caused by the rubber seal (boot) being nicked while stretching it around the vent tube which often has sharp edges at the top where it was cut. This is easily remedied and can be done without removing the old flashing or seal.
posted by bz at 1:34 PM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Well, I'm currently waiting on roofer to come look at our roof, even though I'm not in the top floor (leaking) unit. It depends on your condo association, but in our case the association pays for the fix on the outside (said roofer) and the individual unit is responsible for fixing anything within their unit (the ceiling around your vent). Because we don't have professional management, I got the lucky straw of talking with the roofer this time.

I agree that it's likely the flashing, hopefully a quick fix, and that if you've caught it quickly enough it should require a lot of repairs within your own condo.
posted by ldthomps at 1:40 PM on August 15, 2011

This happened to me, and it was the flashing. But the way the roof was built meant it was REALLY difficult to put on flashing that actually sealed against heavy rain. We had repair people come out six times before it was fixed. The final time, it was a repairman WE chose, and we had a much better experience. When the condo board (assuming this = body corporate in Aus) called their repairman, he reported to them, and was reluctant to give us full details on what he was doing, what the problem was, whether he considered it properly fixed, etc.
posted by lollusc at 5:50 PM on August 15, 2011

I had leakage from an ice dam once. The builder had laid the attic floor all the way out to the roof, so it blocked the soffit vents. The water stained the ceiling 15 feet back from the outer wall. The condo association repaired the problem, and their insurance company gave me a check to repair the damage. Damage inside the unit that result from a failure of the outer surface of the building should not be your financial responsibility; the association is supposed to maintain the outer skin of the building so no water gets in..
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:59 PM on August 15, 2011

Whew! I've never heard of flashing but hopefully that's all it is. Thanks for reassuring me that my roof won't cave in on me. ;-)

So, I've called, faxed and emailed and gotten zero response from the management office. This is typical. What next? I really don't want to pay out of pocket for this. Is withholding my condo fees too extreme?
posted by my_thai at 10:46 AM on August 18, 2011

Probably, yes. In some places, that gives them an excuse to start fining you, and if you don't pay the fines, they can eventually take your home.

Are any of your friends lawyers? A letter from a lawyer can often wake up unresponsive actors in these matters.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:12 PM on August 18, 2011

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