CONDO ARCHIVES

Identifying the Source of Water Leaks

October 2021

Finding where water leaks originate requires the skills of a detective.

“Where water is first noticed can be floors and hundreds of feet away from where it originates” explains Nicholas Gill of Aware by BuildingLink which provides leak detection sensors to detect, notify and mitigate damage.  “Yet finding the source is necessary to not only rectify what could be an ongoing problem but determining who is financially responsible.”  Internal repairs can’t be undertaken until the source of a water leak is sealed.

One resident noticed water coming from their ceiling and trickling behind kitchen cabinets.  Being on the fourth floor, there was no obvious source.  The suite above did not have water problems.  Management first thought water was entering from the side of the building.  Investigation suggested the roof as a possible source and also noted cracks in the façade.  They eventually found a very small pipe leak on the fourth floor plus smaller leaks above and below.  Management repaired the identified water leak along with the roof and façade to mitigate future problems.

Small pipe leaks, better known as pinhole leaks. are a leading cause of water damage in high-rise communities.  As buildings age, pinhole leaks occur with increasing frequency unless proactive measures are taken.

“Water pipes deteriorate with age in high-rise buildings and are more susceptible to pinhole leaks due to corrosion and the pressure needed for water to reach all floors of a building” explains Scott Reid of Hytec Water Management which specializes in the prevention of pipe corrosion and pinhole leaks.  “Without effective water management, deterioration starts on the inside of a pipe and works its way to the outside making advance detection of problems nearly impossible.  Unless protected, eventually a portion of pipe becomes so thin that a small stream of water is released. Once noticed, it is possible that many more pinhole leaks exist and have gone unnoticed, and an indicator that more pinhole leaks may soon arise.  Once a water leak starts it travels downward and can damage many suites along its path.”

When the source of a water leak is external and unclear systematic water testing – spraying of water into all potential entry points – becomes necessary.  This may worsen damage before a source is identified as was the case in one Thornhill home.  Water damage began to appear on the wall and window frame.  Cutting into the wall, moisture was noted but no identifiable leak.  Systematic water testing found no water infiltration in the area.  The leak was found two floors up on an outside wall.  Water entering and trickling down bypassed two floors before being visible three floors lower.

“Water detection systems are necessary to identify where water may be accumulating hidden behind walls before serious damage occurs” according to Triple+, a leader in water leak mitigation services.  “Early detection and notification of where moisture is appearing allows for fast remediation and reduced likelihood of damage.  This helps keep repair and insurance costs to a minimum.”

Identifying and repairing water leaks originating from pipes, wall or roof is the only way to deal with what could otherwise be a growing problem.