Old Man Winter of 2020-2021 has hit Chicago area Condo, Townhome and HOA associations mercilessly. In some cases, the large amount of snow fall has affected outdoor parking issues as well as access in and out of outdoor parking lots. In other cases, the severe winter has caused significant ice damming that has resulted in water infiltration inside countless common areas and inside homeowner’s units.
Since ice damming is a much more severe issue, we will focus on that topic in this blog.
Is it a Plumbing Issue or an Ice Damming Issue?
First, how do you determine if the water infiltration is ice damming or a plumbing issue? This is not an easy answer. To answer this question, I would recommend a process of elimination. Is the water infiltration a heavy amount of water causing flooding? If so, more than likely that is a broken pipe. Did the water infiltration start and then stop while the person above you was taking a shower or running the washing machine or dishwasher? Then most likely that is a plumbing issue.
Another scenario is where the snow on the roof has caused a roof “seam” to open and is causing ceiling damage inside a unit on the top floor of the building. This is not necessarily ice damming but should be addressed to stop the water from further entering the unit.
Lastly, Is the water infiltration occurring around a window or against an exterior wall and the leakage is slow and steady? If yes, then more likely than not it is ice damming.
Of course, this process of elimination is only applicable while there is freezing and thawing conditions that cause the snow on the roof to melt and cause water to drip down the sides of buildings. In other words, during the day when it is warmer outside, the warming sun and the heat from inside the building cause the snow on the roof to start to melt, and then the water travels to the gutters. Now when the gutters are filled with ice and the downspout is filled with ice, the water will then form icicles and will also travel down the sides of the building. In some cases, the gutters spring leaks and water drips through areas of the gutters. And in other scenarios, the ice pushes the gutters away from the roof and water drips down behind the gutters.
If your association or homeowners are experiencing ice damming water infiltration, the water infiltration usually slows down at night and then increases again during the warmer daytime hours.
It is Ice Damming, what do I do now?
Once you have determined that it is ice damming, what are the options that are available? Here are some ways to address the issues:
Ice damming issues are serious issues that often cause extensive damage inside community association homes and common areas. The homeowner and board should carefully assess the cost benefits of hiring a company to come out and address the issues before taking a knee jerk reaction and calling out a company that will probably charge at minimum $1,000 to well over $10,000 depending on the scope of work. Furthermore, the vendor might only provide temporary relief in most cases. Make sure you know exactly what the vendor is proposing to do and if it is a temporary solution before you have them come out so that you are not surprised with the results and the bill.
Salvatore J. Sciacca is the nation’s foremost expert in the community property management industry. With over 30 years of real estate property management experience and as a former board member of a 56-unit condominium association, Salvatore’s extensive knowledge in the community property management industry has resulted in a transformation in the way property management companies serve community associations throughout the Chicagoland area.
He is also the President and Founder of Chicago Property Services, Chicago’s #1 condo management company specializing in management and operations of condominiums, townhomes,
and HOA’s of 100 units and under.
Salvatore J. Sciacca
Chicago Property Services
Chicago Condo Management Experts
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