How to avoid water damage in your strata scheme

Regularly inspecting and maintaining your strata scheme is an important action to avoid any sudden nasty surprises. Too often, strata schemes lack the proper care and attention due to limited budgets or poor management, leading to costly repair work and frustrated owners and tenants who suffer from these building issues.

Before your strata scheme gets into a state of disrepair and requires major repair work, we recommend taking a preventative and proactive approach by regularly maintaining your strata scheme, particularly when it comes to water damage. Unlike a house, strata buildings can have a complicated design with water pipes, electrical wiring and air conditioning systems that are often hidden behind cavity walls, under flooring or within the roof to maintain a neat appearance. However, when something goes wrong such as a water pipe bursting, this can have devastating effects and can be extremely costly to fix.

Water damage is one of the most common causes of strata insurance claims and a significant claim can see insurance premiums rapidly rise at renewal. To keep these claims to a minimum, it is important to have a good maintenance plan in place with regular inspections to help prevent unexpected expensive costs.

What will strata insurance cover?

Strata insurance can cover you for any sudden or accidental water damage. This includes things like leaking pipes or a burst water pipe as long as a claim is made when you first physically notice the damage.

Strata insurance does not cover you for poor maintenance where a known problem has been left untreated or for any general wear and tear.

Sometimes water problems can easily go unnoticed until physical signs appear such as damp or mould patches or leaking through the ceiling. However, by the time these signs show, the water damage tends to be greater and may have spread to other lots and common areas. The source of the leak or water damage in some cases can also be very difficult to find, even for a leak detection specialist and may not be an easy fix.

Things to keep in mind for water damage

  • It can take time for suppliers to turn up and then to quote the repair work
  • Finding the source of the water issue and for repair work to commence is not always immediate
  • Impact on building access and common area repairs
  • Removal of walls, ceilings and roofs may be required to rectify the damage
  • Upfront out of pocket expenses to repair and replace items not covered by strata insurance

How to avoid water damage?

Whilst you may not be able to avoid water damage altogether, there are ways for you to help prevent or reduce the risk of water damage for your strata scheme. Things to keep in mind include:

  • Conduct regular inspections of the whole strata scheme including common areas
  • Look for signs of mould or dampness on the ceilings and the walls
  • Check for dripping taps or rusty pipes
  • Watch for flickering lights – water may have got into the fittings and fixtures
  • Check the property’s history. An older building over 30 years old is likely to have more issues than a new build

What are the common types of water damage to look out for?

  • Leaking plumbing, taps or pipes
  • Burst water pipes
  • Blocked gutters or piping
  • Flashing, tiles, shingles or deteriorating roof parts
  • Mould, rot or corrosion caused by long-term water seepage
  • Deteriorating electrical wiring caused by water seepage
  • Seepage from cracks in foundations or at the exterior of the building allowing water to enter the strata scheme
  • Poor repairs or lack of repairs to the strata scheme

What can be done to protect your strata scheme from water damage?

There are many quick and simple things that can be done by the owners corporation, building manager or committee members to avoid costly water damage in the long run.

  • Regularly clean gutters and drains to ensure water flows freely, particularly after a storm
  • Frequently check water and waste links for signs of leaks, damage or corrosion
  • Install a pressure limiting valve to reduce pressure on water pipes and joints which will help prolong their serviceable life
  • Connect a water stop flow valve to the main water pipe which detects water pressure changes. Water is automatically shut off when a pre-set value is reached.
  • Check for mould throughout the building which is a good indicator of water issues.
  • Inspect the ceilings for any watermarks which may indicate a leak from the floor above.
  • Frequently check flexi-hose connections to vanities, toilets, sinks and washing machines for signs of rust, corrosion or ruptures which can lead to flooding. If you notice puddles around the system, it could be time to buy a replacement.
  • Be familiar with where your water isolation taps are, so if flooding does occur, the water flow can be stopped quickly.
  • Maintain an up-to-date building condition report that includes any faults and helps plan for the repair.
  • Create and conduct a comprehensive annual maintenance plan to identify any potential risk of water damage and keep a record of compliance for strata property plant and equipment, as well as note when plant and equipment are due to be repaired or replaced.
  • Review your strata insurance policy to ensure it’s still current and covers your building for all types of water damage.
  • Engage reputable and qualified service providers that are familiar with your strata scheme and can also assist with lot owners and tenants.

Contact us

Want more maintenance tips to help avoid water damage in your strata scheme? Speak to the team at The Strata Collective today.

The Strata Collective

Level 9, 387 George St
Sydney, NSW 2000

Ph: 02 9137 2320

Strata Community Australia Member

Winner of the
SCA NSW Strata Community Awards 2020
Medium Category

Congratulations to The Strata Collective and Principal, Rod Smith for winning such a prestigious award.

See the full story and photos here.

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