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It is almost fitting that this subject has been raised at this time of the year, as some of us are lucky enough to be able to go away over the holiday period. Sure, the accommodation and flights have been booked and paid for, the car serviced if it’s a road trip and the babysitting for the fur babies arranged, but is that…everything?

An urgent job came in January 2 with reports of water coming out of the front door of a unit into the hallway. A neighbour had placed some towels across the doorway to stop the water flowing across the tiles and towards the lift nearby. Despite efforts, the owner could not be contacted, so the body corporate comes to the rescue!

Because of the nature of the issue, this was an emergency. With the owner either off-grid, out of phone range, or in this case….out of the country, immediate action was required. A locksmith was arranged to meet the plumber on site and to gain entry.

Before we get to what was found, take a moment to consider the above. Notifying the neighbours, leaving a key with them, or installing a lock box and notifying the Body Corporate are common-sense processes that can easily be arranged. That way, in the event of such emergencies, access can be swift and hassle-free.

Once the locksmith had picked the lock, water was seen everywhere, dripping from the already sagging ceiling. The floating timber floor was floating even more and ushering the water out of the entry door. The owner had taken some steps, like turning the electricity off, covering the furniture, and even perhaps turning the water off at the meter. The latter is unknown, as this may have been someone else’s doing in response to the water flowing from within. This had all the makings of perhaps a burst flexi hose, as these are the most common cause of “Vacant Flooding Syndrome”. Inspection of the upstairs bathrooms revealed no such occurrence, with both areas dry. However, the carpet in one bedroom was very very wet, and getting wetter when walking towards the curtains. When the curtains were opened, it revealed a sliding door with a large balcony.

The hot water cylinder and air con unit were seen, along with about 2-3 inches of water on the tiled floor! But despite closer inspection, the heater was given the all-clear. The balcony drain was found and pulled out to reveal a grate blocked with hair and sludge. This saw the water drain away quickly, and the issue resolved. As a precaution, the drain on the other balcony was also pulled out and inspected.

With the heavy rain over the holidays, water had been blowing in onto the balcony on the top floor, the drain blockage saw this water build up enough to leak through under the sliding glass door and into the top floor slab. This eventually soaked the carpet and slab heavily, which leaked through into the ceiling void below, out of the light fittings and sagged the ceiling until it was dripping enough to leak out of the front door. Thousands of dollars of damage, because of something simple. Soaked floors, wet carpets, and ruined ceilings. If only you could smell what that was like. Could this have been avoided? Hopefully now, after reading this…absolutely. Knowing your neighbours, notifying them of your absence, leaving a key, notifying the body corporate, turning off the water, checking balcony drains and having the gutters cleaned are a few suggestions before heading away for a weekend, a week, or in this particular case, 12 months! Vigilance is the key, so please….leave one!