Managing Plumbing Maintenance Chores


Managing Plumbing Maintenance Chores

(1) Tenant called the owner to say that smelly water been pouring through the false ceiling in the kitchen on an irregular interval while she was cooking dinner. What should owner do?

First of all, it is important to know what lies above the false ceiling of a condominium kitchen (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.

If the amount of leakage is slow and minimal and not smelly, the leakage is most likely coming from the water heater tank or from the hot & cold water pipings or the aircon drainage piping. If so, this will be a smaller problem (in relative terms).
Plumbing services

If it is smelly water pouring in big quantity, then the leakage is most likely coming from the waste water sewerage pipings which belongs to the unit upstairs.

While waiting for plumbers to come by to trouble shoot, owner is advised to inform the occupier upstairs to “temporarily” stop using the kitchen tap/sink. This would mean inconvenience for the occupier upstairs not able to use the kitchen sink for days or until plumber shows up.

In order to find the source of the leak, however, plumbers need to cut a hole in the false ceiling. This is necessary even though there may be an access panel on the false ceiling. Why? Because the point of leak may be too far away from the access panel. This would mean spending extra money in patching back and painting the false ceiling after rectifying the source of the leak.

When false ceiling is cut, then plumber would be able to assess the source of the leak. The culprit could be the sewerage pipe ring or it could be the cap of the sewerage pipings. If is “crack” on the sewerage pipings, then will be a even bigger problem. Depending on the problem, plumbing jobs may take days to complete.

For the patching back/painting of the false ceiling, it is advisable to only do it few days later. Why? so you can monitor whether there are further leaks, else will involve cutting of the false ceiling again which is double job. However, for such a major leaking issue, owners may be pressured by the tenant to reinstate the false ceilings as soon as possible so tenant can start to cook again in the kitchen. Also, not forgetting that the space above false ceiling is always dusty and may be full of insects/spider webs. Hence, most owners would then need to take the risk of cutting false ceiling again if the leak is not resolved.

One thing to take note is, the cost of rectifying such leakage by engaging 2 groups of contractors (plumber and false ceiling contractor) should be borne by the unit upstairs. Owners should establish and get written confirmation from the owner upstairs on the payment before engaging contractors.

For your tenant unfortunately, it would mean the trouble of cleaning up the place while waiting for contractors to arrive and also the cleaning up after the jobs are done.

For the occupier upstairs, it may mean a few days not being able to use the kitchen (depending on how fast contractors can come by). If there is still a need for the occupier upstairs to use the kitchen tap, one suggestion is to temporarily dismantle the bottle trap under the kitchen sink. Then, use a pail to collect dirty water and pour dirty water in the toilets or other drainages. This is done so that life still can go on for the using of kitchen sink for the occupier upstairs except this little chore.

If you need further clarification of the above issue, please contact us to find out more.

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