Condo/Townhouse Living in Hawaii..........and A Water Leak

Real Estate Agent with Liberty Homes RS-#62825


Townhouse/Condo living can be great easy living for homeowners that want a low maintenance courtyard and maintenance fees that take care of the bulk of insurance/repairs for the common elements of the structure, water, sewer, trash and parking. (at least this is in my Association and others may include electricity)

For me (in my mid years) it was good to downsize and not have the added stress of yardwork and a big house to maintain. I also love the peace and quiet in our community.


Just remember that if you have someone above or below you and you incur a bathroom (or any location i.e. kitchen, laundry etc) leak to be sure to:

  • Call the resident manager and your maintenance company immediately to inform them of the situation, especially if you have a unit above you and you don't know where it's coming from.
  • Call a LICENSED plumber IMMEDIATELY so you can eliminate the possibilities of where the leak is coming from and remedy the situation. If it is from your unit you certainly do not want the water leak going into other units because YOU will be responsible. If you are not the cause your resident manager and maintenance company will start the process of elimation by contacting all unit owners around you.
  • Do not let it go on and on because you are subjecting your home to severe damage and it becomes a health hazard when mildew and mold start occuring.
  • Make sure you have condo/townhouse insurance (it's minimal cost per year and will cover damage to others units and if it's your unit it may cover water damage to carpet walls and other damaged parts of the home that do not fall under the Association insurance for the inside your unit.
  • Make sure you don't accuse your neighbors to their face until you really find out who the culprit is. (I kept accusing them to my husband. I'm so glad I was pleasant to the neighbors....whew.)

The following is my own personal experience so please take heed because it could happen to anyone! With my assumptions I not only made a fool of myself but those assumptions also proved me WRONG! Two weeks ago I was sitting on my toilet and in front of me on the bottom of the baseboard I noticed a really tiny puddle of water. I sopped it up and it went away until a few days later I saw it again. I pulled the baseboard up and lo and behold it was wet and I ran into my room and felt the carpet next to the wall that backs the bathroom and lo and behold it was wet too!

I immediately assumed it was the unit above us because I heard the toddler in the bathroom and getting out and running around. In any event the following is what transpired:

  •  Called the Association and the Resident Manager who in turn contacted the owner (there is a tenant above us). The owner showed up an hour later and told us that the tenants had a stopped drain and had rootered in the overflow pipe. Geez. That's what it is!
  • The owner came that evening and assured us he fixed the overflow and we should not be receiving any more trouble.
  • We decided to call the plumber when we discovered the puddle in the closet getting bigger because we could not figure out why or where it was coming from.
  • Plumber came and cut two holes in our closet (picture to right is in between the two walls from my closet to the bathroom) and exposed the bathtub area. GIANT puddle, some mildew and starting of mold in a couple of spots. Great. He said the leak was coming from upstairs and we even asked the tenant if the plumber could look. The overflow was NOT changed and couldn't have been changed because they would have had to cut through our ceiling to do it. The tenant told the plumber the landlord (owner) caulked it and that was it.
  • Leaking continues although we start monitoring during the night and next morning only to find out it was US! No one home upstairs and my husband jumped in the shower with me in the closet shining the mag light into the holes. Yup. It was us.
  • Called the plumber in the morning when we did the "experiment" again and it leaked...with no one home upstairs (they're at work) He came yesterday afternoon and I informed him that the tub faucet started leaking, I found a crack on the bottom of the cheap fiberglass tub this townhouse came with and through the hole in the closet saw that the back side of the tub's frame wasn't even on the floor.

 So, the plumber replaced the mixer valve and basically told us we need a new bathtub and until someone comes in we can get waterproof tape to hold out the water. So after he left my husband went and got heavy duty waterproof tape and "crazy glue" and glued and taped the crack and a couple of fractures. We took showers and though it's not leaking from the bottom of the tub...there is STILL a leak only when running the shower. (the plumber said it was dry back there).

Bottom line. I have someone coming this afternoon to give me an estimate on the tub replacement and when they rip it out we'll surely find that other leak that is finding it's way to the backside of the wall of the tub and dripping down the beam...that is getting soaked and dried...soaked and dried. I'm living with two holes in my closet that I need to keep open so I can keep drying it out under there and keep an eye on things. (I have since been wiping down the inside with clorox cleaner and spraying Lysol...and will call someone in to do it the correct way before the walls are sealed again)

I think I'll remodel my whole bathroom at this point with a nice heavy duty tub and solid surface walls, and new floors, toilet and cabinets and.....and....    my husband isn't laughing at me anymore for "assuming" it was the neighbors. lol!

How much did you say?




Celeste "Sally" Cheeseman is a Realtor-Associate with Century 21 Liberty Homes in Mililani, Hawaii. With a sharp understanding that a listening ear is the key to a client's needs  she serves the island of Oahu (Honolulu County) and all Hawaii Military Relocating to Hawaii, Hawaii Retirees, Hawaii Job Transfers and Hawaii Residents. Website:



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Celeste "Sally" Cheeseman  is a Realtor-Associate® and Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) with Century 21 Liberty Homes in Mililani, Hawaii. With a sharp understanding that a listening ear is the key to a client's needs  she serves the island of Oahu (Honolulu County) and all Hawaii Military Relocations, Hawaii Retirees, Hawaii Job Transfers and Hawaii Residents, Home Buyers and Sellers.


 © 2007-2015 Celeste "Sally" Cheeseman's

Hawaii Real Estate and Relocation Blog.

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Clayton, MO
Great information Sally! I can relate to the whole yardwork thing right lawnmower has quit. blah. :)
Oct 04, 2007 02:47 PM #13
Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman
Liberty Homes - Mililani, HI

Roberta: One estimator just left...I really need to get this done. And wow...left the water on....wonder how come the people under him didn't get the water shut off!

George: I  just want to hurry and find it instead of crawling in the hole to sop stuff up. I have a little plastic bowl right now catching the majority of it.  Funny but did cross my mind....not me but the hubby hahaha.

Pamela: I tell you what...I wouldn't mind mowing the lawn right now if the leak would go away!

Oct 04, 2007 03:20 PM #14
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher
Sally, Believe me I can sympathize!  My initial leak I thought was handled correctly by calling a plumber and a water damage company and everyone who came kept telling me I didn't have mold.  Thank goodness I put off having it redone as of course it showed up.  I, too, have decided to redo the whole bathroom (Lowe's was nicer then Home Depot :).  Good luck and I'm so glad you found it and corrected it!
Oct 04, 2007 03:41 PM #15
Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman
Liberty Homes - Mililani, HI
Carole: Oh...I think Saturday is excursion day.
Oct 04, 2007 03:46 PM #16
William Johnson
RE/MAX Associates - La Jolla, CA
San Diego Real Estate Voice, GRI CRS e-Pro CDPE

It is never a good time to have to remodel. It is likely to be a real pain and inconvenient as best. Wouldn't it be nice if the days of the old cast-iron tub, toilets that flush with one push of the handle and walls made of lath and plaster instead of paper could be resurrected? When my neighbors place flooded, it has taken 3 full months in restoration and it still isn't finished. I empathize !

Oct 04, 2007 04:06 PM #17
Kathy McGraw
CELLing Realty - White Water, CA
Riverside County CA Real Estate


My my....yes it's good you were nice to the neighbors :)  I can just picture you now..."no honey, don't tape it yet, I need a picture for my Blog, hold the over there, yea get the mold....good blog photo." :) :)'ll all be done soon.

Oct 04, 2007 04:20 PM #18
Roberta LaRocca
Simply Vegas Real Estate - Las Vegas, NV
REALTOR®, Broker, Salesperson, Property Management
Sally-In my story above, the reason the people under him did not get the water shut off, they weren't home!  It did get shut off after it started going into the garage.
Oct 04, 2007 04:28 PM #19
Katerina Gasset
Get It Done For Me Virtual Services - Wellington, FL
Get It Done For Me Virtual Services

Sally- How funny that you should post that today. We just had an issue like this in a condo we just put an offer in on for a buyer! 

Well, for your health please borrow an air purifier from someone until you get it fixed. I have an Ecoquest Air Purifier and it will kill the the mold spores as soon as they are airborn. Please make sure that you open your doors and windows before applying Clorox. It is one of the most deadly poisons there is and you should never ever breathe it into your lungs.

To get rid of mold you can use straight vinegar and hot water and let it soak. Also, lemon juice works good on getting rid of mold.

Great info about responsibilities in condo ownership. Katerina

Oct 04, 2007 04:33 PM #20
Thesa Chambers
Fred Real Estate Group - Bend, OR
Principal Broker - Licensed in Oregon
Oh what a pain - but at least you know and it is being fixed - great tips for those in similar positions
Oct 04, 2007 07:34 PM #21
Neal Bloom
eXp Realty - Weston, FL
Realtor CRS-Weston FL Real Estate
I see mold every day...wel almost every day...mabye it will be a good thread for me to write about. :)
Oct 04, 2007 11:41 PM #22
Thomas Weiss
Thomas R. Weiss - West Palm Beach, FL


That looks awful, I am sorry for that. I know that it is not an easy Fix!! Good points, but the longer waited the worst it gets!!

Tom Weiss

Oct 05, 2007 01:23 AM #23
Teri Eckholm
Boardman Realty - White Bear Lake, MN
REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro
Sally--I feel for you....Our tile was incorrectly installed during construction as well as no proper overflow drains. We had about 2-3 years of figuring where the leak was coming from in our two-story home. No neighbors to blame but still a mess...Enjoy your new bathroom when complete! :)
Oct 05, 2007 02:21 AM #24
Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman
Liberty Homes - Mililani, HI

William: It's a good time when things are looking damaged...that's all I know...gotta fix before it turns into a gutted unit.

Kathy: Funny....he wouldn't dare help with this....I had my flashlight propped...mirror to get the angle for my camera....and voila!

Roberta:  Oh, goodness!  Better late than later..ugh.

Katerina: Thanks for the tips...I will do that!

Oct 05, 2007 04:55 AM #25
Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman
Liberty Homes - Mililani, HI

Thesa: Thanks....need to warn people like!

Neal:  Will look forward to that!

Tom:  I need this done quick....

Teri:  I sure'll be a two day job...good thing it's only around the bathtub area....and caught and opened in time.

Oct 05, 2007 04:57 AM #26
Cyndee Haydon
Charles Rutenberg Realty - Clearwater, FL
727-710-8035 Clearwater, Beach Short Sales Luxury Condos &Homes
What a great post - loved the title all the way through.  
Oct 05, 2007 06:24 PM #27
Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman
Liberty Homes - Mililani, HI
Thanks for dropping by Cyndee...I'll be happy when it's over.
Oct 05, 2007 06:26 PM #28
Laurie Mindnich
Centennial, CO
A heavy duty tub?  I see those old GORGEOUS claw foot tubs thrown in front yards for sale every weekend here- how about THAT for a cool tub!
Oct 06, 2007 01:08 PM #29
Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman
Liberty Homes - Mililani, HI
Laurie: They sell those here for 2500k!  I'm talking more heavy duty than the cheap fiberglass one that our unit came with.....we should have changed out a long time before we moved in.
Oct 06, 2007 01:11 PM #30
Bob & Carolin Benjamin
Benjamin Realty LLC - Gold Canyon, AZ
East Phoenix Arizona Homes
Always enjoy your posts. Thanks for sharing.
Oct 07, 2007 06:19 PM #31
Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman
Liberty Homes - Mililani, HI

Bob/Carolin: Thanks for coming by to comment.

Oct 08, 2007 09:07 AM #32
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