Looking for Leaks Finding Water Intrusion Requires Detective Work

Edgar Dworsky is the treasurer of a small condo complex in Somerville, Massachusetts that was built back in 1987. He loves where he lives except for one rather large problem. Water leaks have plagued the complex since it was built. During driving rains, water comes in from around the windows and near the chimney. The association has tried numerous solutions to fix the problem, but nothing has worked very well.

“Water problems are completely frustrating and expensive to try to fix,” says Dworsky.

Water leaks are one of the most damaging things that can happen to a condo, whether in the units or on the common property—especially if, like Dworsky’s complex, they are stealthy leaks that are hard to detect. Among other things, the leaks can be caused from a poorly-constructed building, old pipes, poorly-maintained valves, and damage caused by other factors such as storms. “Everybody that we’ve had in here has told us where they think it’s coming from, and every person has been different, but nobody has been right,” says Dworsky.

Water, Water, Wherefore Art Thou?

Although Dworsky’s building problems seems to have started at the construction phase, Russell Fernandes, principal and vice president of Becht Engineering, BT, Inc in Liberty Corner, New Jersey, says that roofs and siding or façade leaks can develop at any time in a building’s life span.

“Pipes begin to deteriorate in the 20- to 30-year range of a building’s life,” says Fernandes. “This is particularly troublesome in high-rise buildings with large riser pipes—the pipes that run from basement to top floor, inside walls—to supply everything from hot and cold domestic water to air conditioning and heating.”

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