More Americans live in apartments and condos than some might think, with the total amount coming to about 17% of the population. It’s easy to understand why. Condos, in particular, allow for a homeownership experience while maintaining minimalism.

Rather than committing to a house, which can be more expensive in terms of utilities and hard to maintain, you can buy a compact condo. Condos are also located within complexes and are often maintained in part by HOAs and property management associations. These associations will ensure that the complex itself and the surrounding property are aesthetically pleasing; some will even handle repairs, as well.

But while there are many benefits to owning a condo, there are also drawbacks. Perhaps one of the worst drawbacks of owning a condo, especially in Florida, is condo water damage.

Condos in Florida are particularly susceptible to water damage for the same reasons that many homes in Florida are at risk of sustaining water damage. Florida is a naturally wet state, with a lot of marshy swampland as well as a shoreline that is prone to flooding, particularly during hurricane season. Unfortunately, a lot of Florida condo owners are under the impression that condo water damage is not something that they need to worry about.

It’s true that condos do miss one of the big problems that homes with water damage have in common: the presence of a basement. Basements are easily flooded due to the fact that they are underground, which means that most Florida homes and condos are not built with basements. But even without having to worry about basements, Florida condo owners still need to concern themselves with many different issues that can cause water damage.

Condo water damage potentially harmful to your health, as well as the structural integrity of your condo. But it’s also rather expensive to fix. Water damage restoration services can cost thousands of dollars and it can take months for repairs and restoration to be completely finished. With that being said, let’s explore some of the main risk factors that cause water damage to Florida condos. The more that you know about these risk factors, the easier it will be for you to prevent them from harming your condo.

1. Pipe Damage

At times, it’s easy to see exactly where condo water damage is coming from. There could be a visible leak on your ceiling or perhaps hurricane damage that harmed your building. But sometimes, water damage seems to come from nowhere. You may be noticing a ring around your bathroom sink or toilet. Perhaps you wake up and visit the kitchen only to find that there is a puddle of water on your floor. This is incredibly frustrating and it’s not always easy to tell exactly what happened. But often, the source of the issue is actually pipe damage.

Damage to your pipes is not always immediately visible, with a major burst of water the way it seems to occur in the movies. Sometimes, small leaks can slowly damage your condo over the course of months, with worn-down flanges and pipe fittings making it almost impossible for a homeowner to detect themselves before damage is done.

With that in mind, how can you possibly prevent this type of condo water damage from occurring? The key is really being aggressive in terms of prevention and regular maintenance. It may not be a lot of fun to pay for residential plumbing maintenance on a regular basis, but the reality is that you should have your pipes inspected regularly — even if they aren’t showing any sign of damage. Pipes wear down over time and it can take an examination from a plumbing professional to see if you have anything to worry about. Not only does this prevent condo water damage in the long term, but it also can help you start saving money rather quickly. Oftentimes, damaged pipes leak water to the degree that homeowners end up spending more money on their water bills than they realize. In fact, paying more for your water bills than you expected is a major sign that you may be dealing with serious pipe damage. If you notice any leaks or strange cracks in your ceiling, as well as unusually high water bills, get in touch with a plumber. The last thing you want to deal with is persistent water damage.

2. Roof Leaks

Not all leaks are the result of damaged pipes and they can’t always be remedied through plumbing repairs. Some leaks are the result of rooftops being damaged. This can occur within some condos, though not all, depending on the setup of the condo and how exposed the roof is to the elements. Nonetheless, water leakage from rooftops remains a major source of condo water damage.

As with leaks related to damaged pipes, rooftop leaks often occur without us realizing it at first. This is because a lot of roof damage is subtle, based more on small cracks and holes than large gaps. You may start to notice water damage on your ceiling, often given away by telltale stains. In some cases, homeowners are actually able to see and feel water drip down from those leaks.

Once a rooftop leak is discovered, the only real solution is roof leak repair. If you live in a condo complex, this may actually be taken care of for you by your HOA. If not, they may require that you work off of a list of recommended roofing contractors. But in terms of ensuring that you don’t have to deal with this issue, you should think long and hard about your roof and how much time, money, and effort you put into really maintaining it. Many of us don’t think about having our roofs inspected after we buy our homes. We simply take for granted that our roofs will continue to function as we expect them to, even though this often isn’t the case. Make sure that you’re doing everything you can to maintain the integrity of your roof, especially considering the fact that you live in Florida. Every time a rainstorm goes through your condo complex, you should be able to see whether or not your roof has been damaged based on whether or not the roof leaks. If there is any sign of a leak, you should move to have it repaired as soon as possible.

3. Storm Damage

Speaking of storms, they are particularly prominent in Florida. Unsurprisingly, natural disasters and storms are major causes of condo water damage in the area. In fact, a lot of roof damage is caused by hurricanes. Hurricanes are some of the most common types of severe storms in Florida and are particularly common during autumn

It can be difficult to prevent your home from suffering storm damage if you live in Florida, but there are things that you can do to prevent the damage from being too severe and causing water damage, as well. For one thing, it’s important as a Floridian to be on top of weather reports and ready to batten down the hatches, as it were, at any point in time. For another, you’ll have to be ready to put in the physical labor necessary to ensure that your condo is protected from the storm. While you can certainly rely on your gutters to divert water during a regular rainstorm, you’ll need to do some extra work if a hurricane is approaching your condo.

One great way to prevent water damage to your condo’s exterior is to invest in hurricane shutters. These shutters are more heavy-duty (and often lock more tightly) than regular shutters. Therefore, they can be more reliable in the case of an approaching storm. Of course, you may not be able to afford hurricane shutters. If this is true for you, there are still options. Lots of people use plywood to board up their windows, creating makeshift hurricane shutters. Another option is to consider using temporary sealants or even fabrics to seal off windows and doors.

Of course, when preparing for a hurricane, you’re often preparing at the last minute. But if you live in Florida, you should take preventative measures well ahead of time in order to ensure that you are as ready for a storm as you possibly can be. Another way to do this is to keep your gutters and storm drains clear of debris. Fortunately, issues like clearing out sump pumps and checking foundations for cracks can usually be executed by your condo’s HOA. But you should make sure that you know exactly what you’re responsible for as a condo owner, rather than assuming that your HOA or property management company will take care of it for you. The last thing you want is to assume that your HOA will do something that is not their responsibility and end up being caught unawares in the middle of a hurricane.

4. Pool Leakage

Depending on how close your condo is to your complex’s pool, you could very well end up being the victim of condo water damage by way of pool leakage. A lot of condo complexes have pools, especially in Florida. Some condos will even have their own private pools. Pools are great to look at and even more fun to swim in, so having a pool in your complex can significantly raise the overall value of your condo. But just because a pool was initially well-installed and looks great doesn’t mean that it will stay great over the course of years or even decades. Pools can eventually suffer from internal leakage, often connected to their pipes or to other types of internal equipment like pumps malfunctioning.

It can be difficult to tell whether or not your water damage is connected to your pool leaking. But if you do think that this could be your problem, you should work to prove it. In that case, your HOA or complex management company will not only be responsible for swimming pool repairs but for condo water damage repairs, as well. If you can’t find any other source for your water damage and your condo is close to your complex’s pool, you should heavily consider whether or not the pool could be the source of your water damage.

5. Malfunctioning Appliances

Some of the main causes of water damage in Florida condos are, in fact, the very appliances that we rely upon, chiefly washing machines and dishwashers. There are a lot of reasons why this can occur. Oftentimes, we move into condos with older appliances without actually realizing it. These appliances can break down and cause problems before it becomes clear that they’re nearing the end of their lifespans. Other times, damage naturally occurs over time; we often don’t realize that it could be the result of our appliances until we look closer.

One of the telltale signs of a malfunctioning appliance, even before water begins visibly flooding, is mold. If you’re in need of mold remediation services around your washing machine or dishwasher, it’s possible that the appliances are not working correctly and are causing water damage.

Your energy bills could also, once again, be major indicators of malfunctioning appliances. Appliances that are not working correctly tend to run higher water bills, just like damaged or otherwise leaking pipes do. If your water bills are suddenly increasing, you need to consider whether or not a damaged appliance could be the root of the cause.

Of course, water damage doesn’t necessarily mean that a condo is damaged beyond repair. But it can incur a lot of costs and a lot of time devoted to cleanup. Flood water cleanup can also be hazardous to your health, as flood water is full of bacteria. Therefore, it’s best that you are realistic about water damage and remedy it as quickly as possible. Keep in mind that your condo is a long term investment, not just your home. The sooner you tend to flood water issues in terms of prevention and treatment, the better.