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Combatting Water Leaks and Preventing Mold in NYC Apartments

New York City living comes with its charm and challenges, with water leaks topping the list of potential issues that can lead to costly repairs and health risks. From terraces leaking to malfunctioning washing machines, these issues, if unaddressed, are a leading cause of mold growth. RTK Environmental reports that approximately 30% of all residential structures have some form of moisture problem, which can escalate into mold.

“The main issue in apartment buildings is that water travels downward but also laterally,” says Robert Weitz, founder of RTK Environmental. “It will travel through floors and walls to ceilings and walls below, as well as from one dwelling to another on the same floor. When that happens, you are at risk of developing a mold problem,” he explains.

Common Sources of Leaks in NYC Apartments


Leaves and all kinds of debris clog drains. When that happens, water has nowhere to go but into a nearby apartment. Water will travel to the weakest point of entry, which could be just about anywhere. If you have a terrace, be sure to keep your drains clean. Over 50% of terrace-related claims are due to clogged and inadequate drainage systems.

Toilets and Plumbing Pipes:

Pipe breaks are an apartment building’s nightmare. Hundreds, or even thousands of gallons of water can cascade through the halls and stairwells, not to mention walls, floors, and ceilings. One pipe break or plumbing leak can affect dozens of apartments and common areas. Fast action is needed to remove drywall and dry structure and remaining floors as quickly as possible. It’s recommended to treat water like a fire – quick action helps prevent further damage.

Washing Machines:

An estimated 10% of water damage claims are linked to washing machine hose leaks, which are often preventable with routine checks and timely replacements. In many buildings, there is a common laundry room in the basement–all well and good. But, what’s also common, are storage areas in the basement that contain boxes and other items comprised of cellulose, which mold loves to grow on. The humidity and any leaks created from the laundry can cause mold growth in any basement.

HVAC Systems:

HVAC systems often cause mold outbreaks in buildings, especially during the summer months, when the air conditioning systems create condensation. Where there’s moisture, there’s mold. And since mold spores can travel throughout the building through the HVAC system, you can expect that mold colonies are sure to develop.

Steam Pipes:

In older buildings especially, steam pipes and old radiators typically leak inside the walls or ceilings, which go unnoticed. The steam leaks are usually hidden, so damage and mold growth can go unnoticed for weeks or even months. But a musty odor signals that there is mold in the vicinity.


The Mold Menace

Mold thrives in moist environments, and even a minor leak can lead to a significant mold issue within 24-48 hours. If you suspect you have mold in your apartment, the smart thing to do is have it tested. If you do notice an odor or staining, call in an independent professional who has the technology to detect water behind walls, in ceilings and under floorboards. They can ascertain where the mold is and what needs to be done to remove it.

Conflict of Interest

It is important to get two different companies to do the testing and remediation. Why? When the same company does both, it is a clear conflict of interest, and could cost you extra for repairs that are unnecessary. A competent, independent testing company will tell you exactly where the problem is and provide you with a blueprint for remediation. The remediation company will then do only the necessary work, minimizing disruption and cost. In New York State, it is illegal for the same company to do both testing and remediation on the same job.

Who Covers the Cost?

Insurance often covers the cost for mold testing and remediation, especially as it relates to issues with an apartment building. If you rent and are concerned about possible mold, speak with your landlord or the building management. Apartment owners must be more diligent and fast when it comes to identifying mold growth.  The most important thing is to take care of the potential problem quickly. Live well! Be healthy!

Leaks and moisture issues are a significant concern for NYC apartment dwellers, but with the right approach, they can be managed effectively. Taking proactive steps to monitor and address these issues will help maintain a healthy and safe living environment.  Don’t let a small leak lead to a big problem. Contact RTK Environmental today for an expert assessment and state-of-the-art solutions to protect your apartment from leaks and mold.



70% of homes are estimated to have mold behind walls. (Harvard EDU)

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