Apartment water leak - questions
I’d like your expert comments on a water leak that happened recently at my neighbor’s place.
This was caused by a leaky valve under my bathroom’s sink, one floor up. There was accumulation of water on my bathroom floor, which was cleaned up as soon as it was identified. The leak was a one-time event, and luckily they were home when it happened. Some of the water ran down their bedroom wall, but most of it dripped / leaked from the ceiling in their bedroom for about 20 minutes, and it stopped shortly after it was cleaned up upstairs. This is a high-rise concrete residential building. They had a bucket with about 3-4 inches of water in it. Adjacent to that bedroom corner is the bathroom, there was no water leaking there.
As soon as they realized the water is leaking, they rolled / flipped the carpet away from that corner. The carpet was already wet to some extent, and the underlay took some water as well. They also moved away a couple of pieces of furniture (a shelf and a closet) as they were under the spot where the water was leaking.
They also tried to drill a hole in the ceiling (in an apparent attempt to drain the water) but couldn’t because the ceiling is concrete with popcorn surface. Then they drilled a hole in the bathroom’s drywall ceiling (as they heard water dripping) but nothing came out of that hole.
About a day and a half later, I visited their place to see the damage. The carpet was dry in places that were well away from the underlay and exposed to plenty of air, the underlay was also dry in well aired places, and moist around the transition piece going to the bathroom. I pulled the carpet out from under the transition piece and rolled it up a bit more to dry.
The same day there was a restoration company guy in the building working on another unrelated leak. We were able to get him to go into the bedroom with a moisture measuring device and give us his opinion on the situation. The device showed red light (moisture detected) only at the very corner of the wall and ceiling where the leak occurred, in an area that was no more than 2-3 inches long, and an inch down the wall. He described the nature of the leak (or moisture level) as “very minor” if memory serves me well. The rest of the wall, the ceiling and bathroom ceiling all showed green light, with some spots that went into yellow as he was scanning the surface. His recommendation (from my memory) was to put a fan in the area to help with drying of the floor. I’ve had an extra couple of fans (desk / floor cooling fans) which I installed in the area and we left them running for the next couple of days.
After a couple of days I went to pick up the fans and at that time I did not notice any moisture left in the carpet or the underlay, it was dry to touch. All this time the carpet was flipped away from the corner where the leak has occurred, and it seemed to me the drying was complete.
Now, as for the damage repair, my neighbour obtained two quotes from restoration companies to repair the damage. Their numbers differ greatly but both quoted the following work:
- Cut out the drywall in the affected corner, 2x2 ft., and replace with a new piece.
- Repaint the whole wall 12x8 ft. to match the color
- Stain seal the ceiling area and repaint the whole ceiling (or scrape / retexture the area, depending on company who quoted the work)
- Remove and replace 7x6 ft. of underlay
- Relay and clean carpet (or replace carpet, depending on company who quoted the work)
An item not quoted by any of the companies was repairing the bathroom ceiling hole. The neighbor would like this repaired, ceiling repainted if the exact color can’t be matched (custom green). There is also a mural they painted on the ceiling and the wall of the bathroom that would have to be redone if the whole ceiling is painted.
In addition to above, the neighbor is asking for the following to be compensated:
- Ikea shelf – there were 3 shelves stacked in the affected corner and the top shelf apparently took water damage. They are asking for full purchase price but leaving the affected shelf with them, or a replacement (in cash or actual shelves) of all 3 as this particular color is no longer available from Ikea.
- 2 new scrapbooks that were on the top shelf and apparently took water damage
- 3 scrapbooks with photos that also took damage, including labor (20-30 hours), albums, cardstock, decals, ribbons etc. All scrapbooks had to bottom 2 inches wet as they soaked the water in, and pages remain warped after they got dry. Pictures in them may be ok depending on their positions on the page.
Above is the situation from my neighbor’s perspective.
For my part, I’ve had a guy who does building management / building maintenance work come out and look at the place, and his findings are:
- The drywall does not need to be replaced; it is dry and not soft to touch. He knocked on both the undamaged wall and the affected area and it sounds the same. He tried pressing with his fingers into the corner and it’s as hard as it should be. He recommended that if we proceed with repairs, scraping the corner, patching and repainting would be sufficient. If color can’t be matched, paint the whole wall.
- The ceiling area can be repainted with sealant. If the color can’t be matched (the original paint may be years old and not as white as the new paint) then paint the whole ceiling.
- The carpet and underlay are both dry. There is no visible staining on the floor around underlay. There are stains on both sides of the carpet. His recommendation is that carpet only should be cleaned, underlay does not require replacement.
I’ve had another home renovation guy consulted, and based on what information I provided without seeing the place he commented that the amount of quoted work required to repair the damage is exaggerated by both companies “because that’s what they do”.
As for the bathroom ceiling hole, my view is that the hole was caused by neighbor and not by water; it should not be my responsibility to repair this.
Ikea shelf – I thought about paying for it but keeping it for myself as the damage is minimal (see pictures below).
I’m ok with paying for 2 new scrapbooks; I may ask to take them too.
I’m not sure what to do with the 3 scrapbooks that have pictures in them. Material compensation is fine, but I struggle with labor estimate (20-30 hours) and what value to assign to that.
This is about as much info as there is (and I appreciate all your input for your areas of expertise). The pictures below are taken about 3 weeks after the leak happened. The leak happened in the corner where the black floor lamp stands. I am not clear why the stain is in front of the bathroom and not in the corner where the leak happened.
Thank you very much
So....is there a question in there somewhere?:)
1) Ok where to begin, as per your building management / building maintenance guy he is correct on his findings and solutions. Just note that in order to repair that crack you would have to remove the popcorn fix the crack, prime and paint the whole ceiling and re-popcorn it if neighbor wants it. Reason I say this is if you try and patch that crack you will never match the popcorn and will have to redo it anyway.
2) Bathroom ceiling hole was his doing so the cost is his to repair.
3) Ikea shelf as what I see doesn’t warrant replacement as I can see and certainty not replaced for new at full price. I would give him a percentage of the cost and he could keep what he has. If he insists then you have to decide either call your insurance and let them deal with the whole matter or pay for a new self and take the old one.
4) Scrapbooks if they are badly damaged yes replace them and take old ones with you but there is no labor cost involved as an added bonus for the work in scrapbooking.
5) Again, if neighbor is giving you a hard time about this then call your insurance and let them deal with it…
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