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Mr. Lamoureux,
I have got a big problem with my condominium complex. We had a leak in our upstairs bedroom ceiling. They sent some people out to take a look at it, and then I get a bill for $4,800.00 for damages we caused to our roof. We have an air conditioner – heater unit up on the roof with a leaking condensation line that had rotted the roof instead of channeling down into the gutter. Are we responsible for that? Even if that problem is our fault, you would think that we would at least have the option of calling different contractors and looking for the best price!

Thank you,
Patrice H.

Hi Patrice,
In my opinion, I would say no, it is not your responsibility. The reason being is that any service company can go up on that roof. Or, one of the maintenance men from your association was up there cleaning the gutters and damaged that line. It could have been damaged by anyone. It’s very common that these condensate lines from your package unit, which are PVC, are not painted and will become very brittle from the sun. Let’s say the line was fine, someone came along and kicked it and there’s your leak. We see this all of the time.
With many HOA’s, the CC & R’s, conditions, covenants and restrictions, prohibit homeowners from going up on the roof. If you are not allowed up there, how can you be held responsible for maintaining the condensate lines?
It would be up to the HOA to send someone up for on-site maintenance for a semi-annual roof check, especially since you have mechanical functions up there.
Once there is a leak, it is very common to have these types of damages. You’ve got water dripping, with the sun baking it, more water, and more sun. They said the roof was rotted but what they probably mean is that the galvanized drip edge rotted out. However, this takes years of neglect; it was not an overnight problem.
How they can suggest that this is your responsibility is beyond me.

Hello Robert,
I wrote you about one year ago with a question about installing an ADA lift in our complex and are very happy with the results. Thank you!
I would like to know if you could explain another problem that we are having. This doesn’t happen all of the time, but occasionally there are suds coming up through drains throughout the complex. Is this a cause for alarm? Do you know what this is or why this is happening?
Thank you so much,

Joyce B.

Hi Joyce,
I remember the lift question. I’m glad it all worked out for you. The suds are not a cause for alarm. It’s just more of an annoyance that someone else’s soap suds are coming into your unit.
What is causing this is one of your residents ran out of laundry detergent or dishwasher soap and they are using dishwashing liquid instead. They are filling up the reservoir with this concentrated liquid and now you’ve got suds from here to Simi Valley. I’ve done it myself and it turns into a scene from the Lucy Show. This is the reason why laundry detergent is low-sudsing soap.

Submit your questions to:  robert@imsconstruction.com. Robert Lamoureux of IMS Construction, Valencia, CA, has 30 years experience as a commercial General, Electrical and Plumbing contractor. The opinions expressed in “Ask the Expert” are not to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after a thorough visual inspection has been made.

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