Most property owners dread maintenance calls, especially when a tenant calls in frantic because there is flooding in their unit. Whether it is flooding from an overflowing drain or from water seeping in from a unit above, quick action is needed to prevent extensive damage.
1. Determine the Likely Cause
You can usually narrow down the most likely cause with a few questions over the phone. Knowing what is causing the flood helps determine what actions you need to take to minimize damage to the property and inconvenience to your tenants.
If a drain or toilet is backing up, then the cause of the flooding is in the affected drainpipe in the unit, in the building's main drain, or from a clog in an adjacent unit. Water dripping through ceilings or around baseboards can indicate flooding in an adjacent unit or a broken pipe in the walls. Flooding from under the sink or out of a dishwasher usually means only one unit is currently affected.
2. Contact Affected Residents
Once you know possible extent of the problem, the next task is to notify the affected residents so you can begin mitigating damage. If leaks are occurring from an apartment upstairs of the caller, for example, you need to contact the upstairs tenants and instruct them to temporarily stop running water or flushing their toilet until the emergency plumber arrives.
You may also be able to request that any affected tenants perform emergency tasks, if they are comfortable and if allowed by tenancy laws. For example, you can instruct tenants to place bowls under leaks, mop up standing water, or even turn off a water valve beneath the sink. Just make sure that any requests are within your legal rights as a property owner.
3. Take Emergency Steps
Finally, you need to get a plumber to the site immediately. It's best to already have an emergency service under contract so that you don't have to call around or pay an exorbitant fee to a non-contracted service. In many areas, plumbing emergencies must be dealt with quickly, often in less than 24 hours, due to tenancy protection laws. There is also the issue with minimizing damage to the property due to leaks.
If the problem will take more than a day to fix, you may be required to provide alternatives to the tenants, such as bottled drinking water, rent discounts, or even alternative living arrangements.
Contact an emergency plumbing contractor for more information. They can work fast to mitigate the damage and make the necessary repairs.