Our property has galvanized pipes that are starting to leak. The board is patching the lines as they leak but refuses to consider replacing the entire system. What is their duty?
Your board should start a reserve for replacing the galvanized lines with copper.
Water pipes in condominium projects are generally projected to last the life of the project, i.e., more than 30 years and are, therefore, not listed in most reserve studies. Even so,
properties that were built with galvanized pipe cannot ignore the fact that their water lines are subject to leaks and internal corrosion and sediment buildup leading to declining water pressure and flow problems.
If boards choose to replace some lines with cooper and not others, mixing copper with galvanized can lead to galvanic corrosion between the dissimilar metals which will speed the deterioration of the pipes. As a result, partial replacement of galvanized lines is not a permanent solution to the problem.
Many insurance carriers will not pay for damage from water leaks if it determines that the damage was due to the board's failure to replace the failing lines. Insurance will normally pay for sudden unexpected losses but not losses where the board knew about the problem and took no action to correct it. Other carriers will pay for the damage but by the third or fourth leak, they will cancel the policy. Once canceled, the premiums for new insurance will be significantly higher.
Your board should immediately set aside monies in reserves for the complete replacement of the galvanized steel water lines with copper pipes. Otherwise, your association will face potential litigation and large special assessments when the leaks start to accelerate in the coming years.
: Associations needing legal assistance can contact us
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