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How to Handle a Condo Sewage Backup With an Hoa

As the owner of a condo, you probably already know some of the pros and cons of being a member of an HOA (Homeowners’ Association) or COA (Condo Owners’ Association).

One of the benefits of an HOA is that they often cover maintenance costs associated with communal areas. For example, your HOA will probably take care of trash removal, landscaping, snow removal, and general maintenance of the exterior of the building. Condo associations will also take care of shared stairwells, elevators, and hallways.

However, anything within your own condo is generally your responsibility.

But what about sewage backups? Whose responsibility is it to take care of mitigating damage and making repairs following a sewage backup? These frustrating catastrophes often take place within your unit, but the sewage pipes are obviously part of the shared property with your neighbors.

The burden of cleaning up after a sewage backup–and preventing them from occurring in the first place–can be dependent on a few different factors. It isn’t uncommon for there to be disputes over who should be responsible for any damage from the sewage system.

What Do Hoas Usually Cover Concerning Sewer and Main Plumbing Line Maintenance?

exterio of condo with landscaping

In order to understand whose responsibility it is to take care of sewage issues in a condominium, let’s take a look at the potential issues that could arise.

Because HOAs are responsible for common spaces, that will generally include the vertical drain pipes throughout the building. These vertical pipes remove wastewater from individual units and shared bathrooms. They are connected to lateral drain pipes as well, which run from the vertical pipes to each unit.

If a pipe backs up or clogs in one of these shared areas, the water can spill over into a residential unit. In that instance, the responsibility quite clearly falls to the HOA.

Sewer line replacement and maintenance is an additional HOA responsibility. It is their obligation to keep the main line clear from any sort of backup, blockage, or damage. This includes the kind of damage that comes from tree roots growing through the sewer lines and the general wear and tear that happens over time.

When an HOA is responsible for damages, they will need to cover the costs of stopping the backup from occurring, replacing or repairing any pipes that are causing the issue, and covering the cost of disaster restoration.

If You Have a Sewage Backup in Your Condo, Who is Responsible?

If the sewage backup is the result of the main sewer line or vertical pipes in your building, the responsibility for clean-up can fall on your HOA.

However, if the backup is the result of your misuse of the plumbing system, you are likely going to be liable for repair costs.

Be sure to follow your building’s instructions when it comes to flushing materials down the toilets. Unfortunately, people often think of their toilets as a way to dispose of unwanted materials. Some of those materials can cause major plumbing issues.

Never throw diapers, paper towels, sanitary napkins, tampons, or wipes into your toilet. If it turns out that a backup is the result of something you did, you are going to end up paying for the damages, even if you didn’t realize that the behavior was a problem.

Condo owners should always check their HOA documents carefully. You may need to review them with your insurance agent to ensure that you have the right coverage for all types of potential disasters, including plumbing failures.

If You Do Have a Sewage Backup in Your Condo, You Must Get Professional Help With Clean-up.

Sewage is dangerous. It is important that you have an understanding of the risks of handling and being exposed to sewage before you take any action. In fact, the vast majority of sewage spills need to be handled by professional restoration specialists!

Sewage contains bacteria, parasites, viruses, and fungi. When humans are exposed to sewage, they can end up dealing with intestinal damage, lung infections, and skin conditions. It is not uncommon for sewage-related bacteria to cause diarrhea, cramping, fever, nausea, weakness, and vomiting.

Cleaning up water damage by yourself means that you take on the risk of these illnesses and side effects from exposure to sewage.

If you experience water damage or sewage in your condo, you should take the following precautions:

1. Remember don’t touch anything!

2. Don’t eat or drink anything that was exposed to the sewer water.

3. Don’t try to clean it up by yourself. In addition to taking on additional risk, you may be destroying evidence that could lead to a successful insurance claim.

4. Leave items where they are. Don’t remove them. Professional disaster restoration specialists can determine which items are salvageable and which ones are not.

Alpha-omega Disaster Restoration Can Help With These Frustrating Sewage Issues!

Throughout South Central Montana, Alpha-Omega Disaster Restoration helps home and business owners address catastrophic events like floods, fires, mold growth, and sewage backups.

Condo owners in Billings, Laurel, Red Lodge don’t need to wonder about what to do if they experience a sewage backup. Reach out to us and let us know what is going on, and we can help! We’ll work with your insurer and HOA to remedy the problem, getting your unit back to being livable and safe!

Questions? Contact Alpha-Omega today!

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