(1) Should tenant be upset with the unit upstairs when water is pouring profusely down from the false ceiling of the Master Bathroom of your tenanted unit and the false ceiling is soaked and paints are peeling off?
Please inform your tenant not to jump the gun by going straight to the unit upstairs and blame the occupier for hacking the floor and causing water to leak downstairs to your tenanted unit and damaging the false ceilings.
In order to know about ceiling maintenance, we need to first know what lies above the false ceiling of a condominium bathroom (for HDB some may not have false ceilings while for landed properties no issues with “neighbours” upstairs). Items belonging to your unit would usually be the water heater tank, water heater overflow pipe, hot & cold water pipings, aircon drainage piping, aircon ductings and electrical wires among other things. Items belonging to the unit upstairs would be the waste water sewerage pipings.
One “fortunate” thing about leaking issues happening in a bathroom is, there may not be a need to cut a hole in the false ceiling intially for plumbers to assess the leaking issue because most bathrooms have access panels that you can open up. Also, bathrooms are smaller in size which is easier to assess leaking issues as compared to if they occurs in a kitchen. However, lets not be too happy yet because if the source of the leak is a big issue, there is still a need to cut the false ceiling.
Now, if the water leaking is not smelly and is clear water, in many cases the source of the leak would usually be from the water heater tank which has gone rusty.
If the water leaking is smelly and milky in colour, then the source of the leak would usually be from the waste water sewerage pipings.
In any case, the false ceilings would be damp and a quick decision in engaging plumbers to come by is a must. However, please do not be too paranoid that the false ceiling would collapse. This is because for false ceilings, IF properly installed during construction period, are supported by strong sticks of wood, aluminium bars and nailed strongly into the concrete walls. We have come across false ceilings which was soaked with water from rusty water heater tank for almost few weeks and the false ceiling still did not collapse (luckily didn’t attract dengue issue). However, please do not assume this. Whether the false ceilings would collapse or not depend on the quality of the supporting wood, the quality of the false ceilings among other things. Also, not forgetting that water heater tanks are being hooked onto metal brackets which are nailed into concrete walls and waste water sewerage pipings are hanging on concrete ceilings. So these items are NOT sitting or resting ON the false ceilings, contrary to some myths.
To rectify the leak (for water heater or for bigger waste water sewerage pipings), there is a need to cut a hole on the false ceiling even though there is an access panel. Such false ceiling hole needs to be patched back using patty and painted by false ceiling contractors. One thing to take note – if the leaking issue has been around for days or weeks, it is advisable to instruct false ceiling contractor to use a NEW piece of false ceiling materials to cover the hole instead of using the old piece which was being cut earlier. Why? This is for obvious reason that the “soaked” false ceiling piece would be damp and better to change to a new piece. Also, sealers should be applied onto the false ceiling before painting is done. Please remember to be upfront with false ceiling contractor before engaging him for the job.
So, let’s not be upset with the occupier upstairs before you investigate the real source of leak.
If you need further clarification of the above issue, please contact us to find out more.
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