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Flooded ceiling


Bain
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So . . . I fill the whirlpool tub this afternoon, energize the jets, skip down the stairs to make certain there aren't any leaks, but sure enough a long dark streak is spreading across the family-room ceiling. I raced back upstairs, turned off the tub--which was full of that disgusting black brack that tells us the tub hasn't been used in a long time--just in time to hear a female voice shrieking frantically from down on the main level. Oh, did I mention the seller was home?

When I got downstairs, her eyes were bulging up at the ceiling, while she repeated, "What did you do? What did you do?" The rest of the conversation you can pretty well figure out. The seller merely glared while I spoke, and for a brief moment, I thought of this forum and what a splendid photo I could upload of the enraged seller standing beneath the soaked ceiling. But I'm certain she was in no mood for posing.

Anyhow, I carried on while the seller phoned her realtor, her husband, and everybody else she could think of so she could tell them how the home-inspector dude destroyed her house.

I'm not really concerned about liability and, after all, I was there to check for leaks among all else. But I'm sure this has happened to others, and I'm wondering if there's any mystical way of explaining the situation to the seller while also calming him/her down. I don't honestly remember everything I DID say, but I do know it wasn't working terribly well.

John

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Last time that happened to me, I just let them rage; it never works to talk first. Let 'em run the course, and then calmly explain reality, which is, you filled their tub & it leaked.

If they wanted to cause trouble, they probably could. There is a bedrock principle of English Common Law that has a latin phrase which says "....but for your actions, the events would not have transpired that caused the damage". This is a hard one for home inspectors to swallow, but if we act, and that act or gesture starts a chain of events that eventually causes damage, the damage is our fault.

"Logic" has nothing to do w/it. The seller is not at fault; they may not have known the tub was defective, and even if they did, you are still the guy that started the ball rolling.

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Which doesn't seem fair, but of course you're right. And that's why when I leave an empty house post-inspecton, despite having checked the bathrooms, thermostats,and kitchen(I once forgot to turn off an oven. Sellers looooved that one), there's always that brief moment of dread when I wonder if there's something I've forgotten.

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ASHI Standards of Practice; Section 6.1 A (Plumbing). "The inspector shall inspect the interior water supply and distribution systems including all fixtures and faucets."

I think that would also include the whirlpool pump and pipes.

As a side note I emptied an entire whirlpool tub through a kitchen ceiling in less than 10 seconds. Seems the sellers forgot that there was a disconnected pipe from the pump. Took 45 minutes to cleanup after the dripping stopped. Called everyone I could think of...and waited to get "the call". That happened three years and still waiting so I guess I can breath easy now. The disconnected pipe was hidden behind other pipes and could not be seem without a mirror or cutting the ceiling away.

My report said it was "discovered during testing of the whirlpool circulatory system".

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Yeah, life can suck sometimes, but we've all overflowed a tub or had a bubble tub leak all over the place; it's one of those things that makes us a little sharper next time.

David, I have to ask; why do folks say things like "discovered during testing of the whirlpool circulatory system"?

If one describes a leak, it is apparent that the you are aware of it, hence, the "discovery" is self evident. As to "whirlpool circulatory system", well, that really sounds technical, and also a little silly. This is a classic example of InspectorSpeak, that strange language we all use from time to time to describe things in a way that we would never, ever use if we were simply talking to people we know.

Why wouldn't one simply say, "the tub leaked", or, "the tub leaked when I turned it on"(?).

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Originally posted by Bain

. . . But I'm sure this has happened to others, and I'm wondering if there's any mystical way of explaining the situation to the seller while also calming him/her down. I don't honestly remember everything I DID say, but I do know it wasn't working terribly well.

John

"I filled the tub and ran the jets. Is there something I should have done differently?"

"Are there any other undisclosed surprises you'd like to tell me about, or will there be more drama today?"

"After this, I can inspect your car if you like."

"I'm going to break for lunch now. When I get back, I expect this mess to be cleaned up."

"Ma'am, you're tub leaks. I don't mean to be flip, but if this is the biggest problem in your life right now, I think you should get down on your knees and thank God. I'm sure that Terri Schiavo's mother would gladly trade places with you at this moment."

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Absoluty correct Kurt. That was not the direct quote and that's not the way I report. That was the condensed "inspector speak" wording. I said I filled the tub, turned on the pump, and the water drained through the disconnected pipe.

Thanks for watching my wording. Betweeen Walter and yourself I may just get the hang of this report writing thingy in another nine years.

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I like it! We're all gonna miss Johnny......

Hey Dave, I do it too. It's so ingrained in the inspector psyche, it's hard to get out of it.

Since taking WJ's instruction to heart, report writing has gotten easier; if one let's the silly techno-speak disappear, everything becomes much more clear.

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A little late, but I'll jump in here.

Probably 8 years ago while doing a final inspection on new construction, I filled the whirlpool tub, started the pump and noticed the water level in the tub start to drop. Almost immediately a voice from the kitchen below hollers, "Y'all know you got water coming through the ceiling down here?" It seems that an AC tech happened to walk in at just the right moment.

Since it was new construction, I never heard anything about it after I left the site. I frequently use this story when telling people why they need to have new construction inspected.

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I've flooded my share of new construction homes. There is one builder locally that is known to have blocked main drains...not sure why. I fill all the upstairs tubs and drain them at once. On one inspection the tile/carpet guys were present and shortly after I started the tubs draining I hear "Senior! Senior! TOO MUCH WATER! TOO MUCH WATER!" The main was blocked and the water was backing up out of the downstairs Master Bath shower. It pretty much flooded the Master Bath and Suite...and then the Super had the gonads to ask if I'd went out and pulled the cleanout cap....lol

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I think I would have responded sardonically - something like:

Gosh, I didn't know there was another way to test a hydro-massage tub, other than to fill it up to a point above the jets and turn it on. Would you be so kind as to instruct me and your buyer in the correct method that I should have used to test your tub?

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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  • 4 weeks later...

Had one in a condo go bust at the motor. Apparently an older couple NEVER used the thing and the seals around the motor were wasted. Fortunatley There was a heat register below that nicely sent all the water straight to a basement drain with no major drywall repairs.

Really scared me because while the thing was filling up I went to check the HVAC system in the basement (ended up getting a shower) and thought I forgot and overflowed the tub.

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