Condo owners & hot water tanks – A call to arms!

[photopress:water.jpg,thumb,alignright]A lot of people worry about George Bush and political issues. Many more worry about saving the trees and global warming. I worry about condo owners and their hot water tanks.

I am buying a new hot water tank for the seller and buyer of the condo I have in escrow. When I sold the condo to the current owner/seller, the hot water tank was 14 years old. I bought him a home warranty at the time and a new coil was put in, during the first year that he owned the condo, by the warranty company. Now that I’m selling it for him, I’ve decided to have the tank replaced for the new owner (who is not my client).

Hot water tanks are one of those things that often slips through the cracks in a normal transaction. A home inspector often cannot tell if a hot water tank is “ready to blow” simply by looking at it, unless it is already leaking and corroded. A warranty company comes in and “fixes” it, but often doesn’t replace it until “it blows”. The main reason to replace a hot water tank is due to its current age, which is “past it’s life expectancy”, and not wait until “it blows”. However, in the normal real estate transaction, if it ain’t broke, no one is obligated to fix it. “Past its life expectancy” alone, is not necessarily “a defect that the seller must repair”. Old is not necessarily defective.

When I became a Realtor many moons ago, it was our charge to “uphold the value of real estate” generally. The Realtor motto has changed since then, and I am not currently a Realtor, but that motto is still my “cause of action” and it calls me to replace hot water tanks. We all need a mission in life, and so I have made this one of mine. Why you say?

Because when a hot water tank blows in a condo, it affects everyone. When FORTY GALLONS of water lets loose, while the owner is off at work, it is a chaotic catastrophe! The owner comes home to wade in water that has turned his condo into an indoor swimming pool. The next door neighbor comes home to find water all over her condo, but can’t find the source of the problem. And if it is not a ground floor unit, the people below are getting rained on. If any one of these affected neighbors doesn’t respond appropriately, because “they only got a little water, so they just let it dry out on its own”, you can have the beginnings of mold growing behind the baseboards and under the carpet. If you have a 90 unit complex that is 14 years old, you can potentially have 90 hot water tanks all ready to blow in sequence, over a 2 to 4 year period! One blown tank after another! Water, water everywhere! So it is my mission to replace these tanks before they affect people’s lives adversely. Before there are so many “water intrusion” insurance claims that the HOA loses its condo insurance, or the insurance rates are so high, to keep their insurance, that the HOA dues skyrocket! The ramifications of blown hot water tanks, in succession in a condo complex, can raise everyone’s HOA dues and negatively impact the value of everyone’s condo. So to “uphold the value of real estate”, generally…I’ve got to tackle these old tanks at every given opportunity, one sale at a time. Out with the OLD and in with the NEW!

That being said, if anyone has recently replaced their hot water tank, and can give me a referral to a reasonable and reputable source of hot water tank replacement in the Seattle area…please speak up and join me in this cause to eradicate water intrusion claims. Many “forward thinking” HOA Boards are making a rule, that all hot water tanks be replaced based on age alone, and are monitoring that every owner replaces their tank before it blows on everyone. If you live in a condo complex, especially a “stacked unit” complex, please heed this warning, go to your condo board meeting, and urge them to take a stand against water intrusion caused by hot water tank failure. Being “forewarned is to be forearmed!”

Thank you.