Ask an Expert

Ask an Expert: No cold water in the kitchen for 9 years. How do I get my co-op to fix it?

Teri Rogers Headshot - Floral
By Teri Karush Rogers  |
December 11, 2012 - 11:07AM

Q. I have not been able to get cold water out of my kitchen sink in over 9 years. The super has looked at it and does not know what to do. He does not think it is an issue. 

Others in my co-op building have the same problem but one is afraid to speak up and another was told there is nothing we can do. I have been told by the managing agent to use ice cubes, the former board president suggested I buy bottled water and another board member says it's not so bad.  

What should I do?

A. Neither ice cubes, nor bottled water, nor passive acceptance are an appropriate solution, say our experts.

"It is unacceptable that anyone should have no cold water in their kitchen for an extended period of time with no end in sight," says property manager Michael Wolfe of Midboro Management.

Roberta Axelrod, an asset manager at Time Equities, agrees with Wolfe.

"I would suggest that you start by writing a letter to the board, copying the managing agent, stating that there is no cold water in your apartment and that it is your understanding that under the co-op offering plan the board is responsible for such items, and that under law cold water is to be supplied to all units," says Axelrod. "If you do not get a satisfactory response, the next step is to indicate in writing that you have no choice but to involve either or both the city and an attorney."

The city can issue your building a violation and an attorney can focus the board's attention on its obligations under the offering plan to maintain the property, says Axelrod.

"If others in your line have this issue, it may be a simple issue or one that is extremely complex," says Wolfe. "Typically, when a fixture omits the wrong choice of water--we call this a bypass--there may be several causes." 

According to Wolfe, the culprit could be: 

  • A faulty faucet. If it uses cartridges (Moen, for example), it may have failed and needs to be replaced.
  • Hot water that is too hot, as hot water expands when heated and can overwhelm the cold.
  • A resident anywhere in your line who shuts off their shower/tub using the valve on the showerhead instead of the shower body.
  • An incorrect installation of a washer or dishwasher.
  • An incorrect plumbing repair and/or installation.

"Your managing agent should speak to the super to identify locations, frequency, etc.," says Wolfe. "If that is not conclusive, a survey should be conducted to gather information. A skilled plumber would need access to many if not all apartments.  However, the same plumber should visit your apartment first."

Keep in mind that the issue may turn out to be your responsibility, such as if it is in "the portion which comes out of the wall, like the sink, faucets, washers etc.," says Axelrod.


Trouble at home? Get your NYC apartment-dweller questions answered by an expert! Send us your questions. 

See all Ask an Expert.


Teri Rogers Headshot - Floral

Teri Karush Rogers

Founder & Publisher

Founder and publisher Teri Karush Rogers launched Brick Underground in 2009. As a freelance journalist, she had previously covered New York City real estate for The New York Times. Teri has been featured as an expert on New York City residential real estate by The New York Times, New York Daily News, amNew York, NBC Nightly News, The Real Deal, Business Insider, the Huffington Post, and NY1 News, among others. Teri earned a BA in journalism and a law degree from New York University.

Brick Underground articles occasionally include the expertise of, or information about, advertising partners when relevant to the story. We will never promote an advertiser's product without making the relationship clear to our readers.