P.M. from Hartford County, Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Can a Condo Board in Connecticut establish Maintenance Standards that require Mandatory replacement of hot water heaters 10-13 years and state unit owner shall install an automatic shutoff valve on replaced hot water heaters. These standards were not included in my re-sale condo package because they were ‘pending’ and mailed to the unit owners in June, well after my condo review period and seven days prior to my closing.
Mister Condo replies:
P.M., not only can the condo Board implement maintenance standards for water heaters and other wear items, new common interest community insurance laws all but require them to do so. It is unfortunate that the standards were not included in your resale package but understandable as it would appear your association has just recently adopted these standards. One of the top causes of damage to condominium units is water damage from failed water heaters and burst water hoses and pipes. Condominium insurance underwriters do not want to pay for the associated damage which could be easily prevented through proper maintenance. The Connecticut Common Interest Ownership Act (also known as CIOA) has provisions for condominium master insurance that require an association to publish maintenance standards for items they wish to have insured. For items like water heaters, which routinely have 10 year warranties, the ideal standard is to have the water heater replaced BEFORE the warranty expires. That way the insurance company cannot claim that the damage is not covered due to obsolescence on the part of the unit owners.
It goes against every grain of our Yankee upbringing to replace a working product before it fails but it does make a lot of sense it you think about it. Why risk damaging your unit or your neighbor’s when simply replacing an outdated water heater can save the headache and the heartache, not to mention the potential thousands of dollars in insurance claims? As an added bonus, advances in water heater technology may actually save you money on your water heating bill as well. The shutoff valve is obviously just as important. Can you imagine a neighbor leaving for vacation while water gushes out of their old water heater? The shutoff valve protects you and your neighbors. All the best!