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Wet ceiling in my Birmingham condo - who should be responsible for assessing and remediation?
Posted by: stephen
Date: June 22, 2022 01:12AM
I have a tiny strip of damp ceiling where the sheetrock ceiling meets the brick wall in condo building. Who is responsible for investigating the source and the dry-out / remediation?

Backstory:

I live in a 100 year old brick building that was converted to condos in 2004. In the last few weeks, a strip of moisture has appeared right next to the front brick wall of my living room.

It is only about 1/2 inch wide by 18 inches long, but it is moist enough that I can move the sheetrock with my finger.

There might be a couple of smaller, similar spots a few feet along the same seam.

I contacted the management company that is responsible for the building and they came and looked at it, but couldn't identify the source.

There is no plumbing in this part of the building, and the upstairs neighbor says their windows haven't been open. The management company said it might just be that brick is naturally retaining moisture.

I went to the condo board meeting and described my problem, and they said I needed to cut the sheetrock and try if I can to find the source of the problem.

I am not a water remediation expert and am not sure I should take responsibility for cutting the sheetrock or searching for the source.

My position is that if the sheetrock above my head is wet, the water is coming from above, and outside the walls of my unit, and it should be an association issue.

There is no visible liquid, and it appears the source of this moisture is slow.


Should I

1) contact my property insurance company? I have a $1000 deductible.

2) call a water remediation firm like a ServePro or an EPIC?

3) just call in a handyman to trim the sheetrock away? I don't know how to identify next steps from there.

4) insist that the condo board take next steps?
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Re: Wet ceiling in my Birmingham condo - who should be responsible for assessing and remediation?
Posted by: testcase
Date: June 22, 2022 03:27AM
Management is obviously unconcerned. I go with “Door #2” and see what an independent pro says. Said pro might also have an idea as to WHO is “on the hook” for the bill. Water damage just gets worse over time. Stay on it, especially if the owners are the ones responsible.
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Re: Wet ceiling in my Birmingham condo - who should be responsible for assessing and remediation?
Posted by: Robert M
Date: June 22, 2022 06:02AM
Stephen,

Water takes the path of least resistance. It sounds to me like the water is entering from the outside of the building and making its way to that location. Since there is nothing plumbing related in that spot, it is almost certainly coming from outside of the building. That makes it a building issue.

Insist both management and the Condo board take action. They need to find the source of the problem, fix it and then perform necessary repairs in your unit. And, press them on it since water is just one of the problems. The last thing you want is to see this turn into both a water problem, a property damage problem and, worse than that, A MOLD PROBLEM.

Ask the building for its insurance information and put in a claim. The insurance company will send pros to take the next steps. You might need to involve your own insurance company, perform repairs yourself and/or take legal action against the building.

Above all, make sure to do everything in writing and document it. Photos and videos are a must.

Robert



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/22/2022 06:14AM by Robert M.
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Re: Wet ceiling in my Birmingham condo - who should be responsible for assessing and remediation?
Posted by: JoeH
Date: June 22, 2022 10:30AM
Besides what has been mentioned, you may want to have a consultation with a lawyer. Unless there is something special in your condo agreement, they are responsible for everything outside your living space. I once heard it described as, if you can't touch it - walls, ceiling, floors and windows - that is the association's responsibility.
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Re: Wet ceiling in my Birmingham condo - who should be responsible for assessing and remediation?
Posted by: Will Collier
Date: June 22, 2022 10:34AM
FWIW, I have a house with early 80's copper pipes, and we get pinprick leaks every so often, and this sounds like that. The suggestion that you cut the sheetrock to see if you can spot the source is exactly what I have to do every time this pops up. Cut a hole, get a flashlight, see if you can find the source. If you don't see a leaking pipe somewhere near the moisture, it's possible you have water coming from an upstairs neighbor's place, and they may well not even be aware of it. Refrigerator icemaker lines would be something to check, I had one last week that we like to have never found (to borrow a little north Alabama lingo).

As far as who has to pay for the damage, that I don't know but FWIW (assuming it's a pipe, if it's an exterior rain leak I have no idea), when I have to get these repairs done it runs about $150 for the plumber and maybe that much again for my handyman to repair the sheetrock (yes, I could do it myself, but not as well as he does).



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 06/22/2022 10:36AM by Will Collier.
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Re: Wet ceiling in my Birmingham condo - who should be responsible for assessing and remediation?
Posted by: Diana
Date: June 22, 2022 11:12AM
Something to consider when you trace the water leak is that water can travel some distance from the actual leak, and thus can appear places that you would think it couldn’t as it follows the path gravity dictates. They can be a pain to trace.
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Re: Wet ceiling in my Birmingham condo - who should be responsible for assessing and remediation?
Posted by: mattkime
Date: June 22, 2022 11:13AM
Cut the sheet rock and see if you can find the source of the leak. Establishing responsibility BEFORE investigating is going to go nowhere unless there's an anticipated source.

I wouldn't listen to any theories about where it is or isn't coming from until physically investigating. That water could be traveling quite a distance before ending up in your ceiling.

Yes, you could call a handyman to do the investigating but you'll likely be surprised how crude his methods are. He'll likely do an excellent job of patching up - but that might happen much later.

Repairing some sheetrock is likely to be small expense compared to the overall hassle and additional expense to fix the source of the problem.



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Re: Wet ceiling in my Birmingham condo - who should be responsible for assessing and remediation?
Posted by: Robert M
Date: June 22, 2022 11:14AM
Joe,

Yup. It's similar with co-ops. Typically. There are some exceptions but typically, the building corporation is responsible for public areas, the exterior of the building and/or anything within the walls or the floor. Brick exterior? Building corp. Fire escape? Building corp. Pipe below the floor? Building corp. If it's inside the apartment and visible to the shareholder, it's the shareholder's responsibility. A faucet, sheetrock on the ceiling, cabinetry, light fixture, etc, all shareholder responsibility.

There are some exceptions. Windows, entry door, or, if something within the unit is damaged as a result of something the building is responsible for, then it's on the building to repair or replace it. In Stephen's case, if the source is a leak from the exterior of the building, then the building corp is responsible for repairing the leak and any damage caused by it.

'course, if an issue that would typically be on the building corporation is due to the action/inaction of a shareholder, then it's on the shareholder. For example, if a shareholder has a leak from the toilet in his/her apartment that damages the floor between units and/or causes a mold problem, then it's on the shareholder for repairs.

You get the idea.

Robert
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Re: Wet ceiling in my Birmingham condo - who should be responsible for assessing and remediation?
Posted by: rgG
Date: June 22, 2022 12:24PM
Quote
Will Collier
I had one last week that we like to have never found (to borrow a little north Alabama lingo).

As soon as I read that, I said, now there's a true Southern expression, if I ever heard one.
Thanks for the chuckle. It isn't just heard in AL, either, lol.





Roswell, GA (Atlanta suburb)
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Re: Wet ceiling in my Birmingham condo - who should be responsible for assessing and remediation?
Posted by: NewtonMP2100
Date: June 22, 2022 12:37PM
....this is a wet nightmare.....not a wet dream.....



_____________________________________

I reject your reality and substitute my own!
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Re: Wet ceiling in my Birmingham condo - who should be responsible for assessing and remediation?
Posted by: rz
Date: June 22, 2022 01:24PM
I used to have a rental condo. Got a report of water leaking into the MBR, manifesting itself with bubbled up wallpaper trim. Source of the leak turned out to be the balcony of the MBR upstairs. Since it was a concrete wall, there was no worries about mold proliferating in the wall. I cut out about 3' of the wallpaper trim, sprayed bleach on the wall just in case, touched up the paint, and put a new 3' section of wallpaper trim (thankfully we kept a bunch extra), and it was good as new. My insurance gave me a check for $1,400 because they said I'd need to repaint the entire room and get all new wallpaper trim. I think they even got the insurance company of the people upstairs to reimburse our deductible.
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Re: Wet ceiling in my Birmingham condo - who should be responsible for assessing and remediation?
Posted by: stephen
Date: June 22, 2022 06:48PM
I did a LITTLE bit of cutting with a utility knife, and in the thin strip area that seemed damp, I'm wondering if it was drywall at all.

It's almost just like a thin piece of tape, connecting the bottom of the drywall ceiling to the brick wall. Nowhere near the thickness of the drywall, which I can feel the edge of with my finger (and doesn't feel wet, really.)

What I cut away was paper thin. Either the drywall completely disintegrated (I don't see enough debris for that to be be the case) or it was never a complete layer of drywall there.

Is there some sort of transition, tape or something, that builders use when they don't want to completely connect the drywall and exterior wall flush?
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Re: Wet ceiling in my Birmingham condo - who should be responsible for assessing and remediation?
Posted by: mattkime
Date: June 22, 2022 08:17PM
Quote
stephen
Is there some sort of transition, tape or something, that builders use when they don't want to completely connect the drywall and exterior wall flush?

That gap is generally covered by trim.

I think we're overdue for pics of the problem.



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Re: Wet ceiling in my Birmingham condo - who should be responsible for assessing and remediation?
Posted by: rgG
Date: June 23, 2022 05:54AM
Quote
stephen
I did a LITTLE bit of cutting with a utility knife, and in the thin strip area that seemed damp, I'm wondering if it was drywall at all.

It's almost just like a thin piece of tape, connecting the bottom of the drywall ceiling to the brick wall. Nowhere near the thickness of the drywall, which I can feel the edge of with my finger (and doesn't feel wet, really.)

What I cut away was paper thin. Either the drywall completely disintegrated (I don't see enough debris for that to be be the case) or it was never a complete layer of drywall there.

Is there some sort of transition, tape or something, that builders use when they don't want to completely connect the drywall and exterior wall flush?

Sounds like that is just the joint tape you cut through. Maybe the person who put up the ceiling didn’t install the dry wall all the way to the wall and just bridged the gap with the tape.





Roswell, GA (Atlanta suburb)
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Re: Wet ceiling in my Birmingham condo - who should be responsible for assessing and remediation?
Posted by: stephen
Date: June 23, 2022 02:28PM
Here’s a link to a few pics and a short video after I cut it with a utility knife. This area was damp a few weeks ago before I cut it, but really wasn’t yesterday

Pics
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Re: Wet ceiling in my Birmingham condo - who should be responsible for assessing and remediation?
Posted by: mrbigstuff
Date: June 23, 2022 03:41PM
My non professional opinion is that it's just moisture from the clay brick. The builders should have used something different against the brick, a buffer of some kind.
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Re: Wet ceiling in my Birmingham condo - who should be responsible for assessing and remediation?
Posted by: Will Collier
Date: June 23, 2022 03:59PM
That's a really small spot. I'd just keep an eye on it, if the damp spot returns and especially if it gets bigger (say with the next big rain), worry about it then. If you're worried about mold, spray some 50% bleach 50% water into the gap.
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Re: Wet ceiling in my Birmingham condo - who should be responsible for assessing and remediation?
Posted by: rgG
Date: June 23, 2022 06:17PM
It looks like the filled in the gap between the brick and the drywall with caulk then painted over it.
I would leave it open till the next rain and then take a look at it, during the rain, if you can.





Roswell, GA (Atlanta suburb)
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Re: Wet ceiling in my Birmingham condo - who should be responsible for assessing and remediation?
Posted by: stephen
Date: June 23, 2022 11:13PM
Agreed with the recent comments. It’s not big, and the building isn’t worried about it. I’ll just watch for any issues. This brick in general is doing some crumbling. I’d rather not coat it but will if necessary:
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Re: Wet ceiling in my Birmingham condo - who should be responsible for assessing and remediation?
Posted by: Robert M
Date: June 26, 2022 12:18PM
Stephen,

KEep a very close eye on it. Moisture is a sign of a problem. You should not be seeing moisture at all inside your home, even in that area. That the building isn't worried about it is irrelevant. The question is whether or not there is actually a leak that requires repair and whether or not you should have it fixed properly. I'd have it fixed properly _now_ while it's a minor issue before it becomes a big problem.

Robert
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