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Dishwasher leak


Bain
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So I checked out a house this past Tuesday--it had been vacant for quite awhile, apparently--and got a call from the owner/realtor today. She walked into the place yesterday and water had leaked out of the dishwasher and destroyed the laminate wood floor in the kitchen. The owner had her plumber take a look, and he said the tub was partially filled with water, which meant someone--i.e. me--switched off the dishwasher mid-cycle and that the water from the tub leaked onto the floor.

I'm pretty sure the dishwasher ran from "on" to "off," but of course I can't be absolutely positive.

I told the owner I was reasonable, and that if I were in any way responsible for the damage I would be fair with her. I also explained that seals can dry out when appliances aren't used for a long while and that even if water were left in the tub, it probably wouldn't have leaked onto the floor.

The buyer's agent and I left the house together, so the machine was off and there was no water on the floor then.

Any thoughts?

John

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Well, you have already committed yourself to being the guilty party. Are you also responsible for repairing the dishwasher? I don't see how you could have made the dishwasher leak. It's one of the coincidental accidents that happen from time to time. The owner should have made a claim on her homeowners insurance for the damages.

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That's of course what I thought, too, but it's gratifying to hear affirmation since I know I'll be battling with the chick this week. She isn't terribly bright, and she already doesn't like me 'cause I've caused problems with her listings in the past.

I didn't actually accept any blame for what happened, Scott. I was merely trying to keep the conversation civil.

John

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Originally posted by Bain

That's of course what I thought, too, but it's gratifying to hear affirmation since I know I'll be battling with the chick this week. She isn't terribly bright, and she already doesn't like me 'cause I've caused problems with her listings in the past.

I didn't actually accept any blame for what happened, Scott. I was merely trying to keep the conversation civil.

John

I told the owner I was reasonable, and that if I were in any way responsible for the damage I would be fair with her. I also explained that seals can dry out when appliances aren't used for a long while and that even if water were left in the tub, it probably wouldn't have leaked onto the floor.

By your statement it sounds like you admitted that you were the guilty party. I can understand that you wanted to help and that is commendable.

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It's all red herring stuff. No one really knows anything. No one knows who left things on, off, or in between. And, a dishwasher tub full of water shouldn't leak; if they did, every dishwasher would leak. They're made to be full of water.

One thing; listing realtors are responsible for their properties.

If the realtor started pushing me, I'd be pushing to the Board to provide a statement why this particular realtor was not responsible for checking lights, appliances, etc. when she locked the place up.

I've had a couple of things like this happen over the years; they never go anywhere.

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I probably wasn't clear, Kurt. The listing agent is also the owner of the house. The buyer's agent and I made certain everything was off when we walked out the door. I sent the listing agent/owner an e-mail this morning saying pretty much what you did. If the dishwasher was turned off--regardless of whether it contained water--it should not have leaked.

I suppose I started the thread because, despite what I know, there's always that nagging little voice in the back of my brain that asks, "Well, yeah. But have you thought of everything?"

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It appears the "listing agent/owner" is now putting on the hat of the "owner" and mayhaps doesn't want to accept any responsibility.

I've experienced similar over the years and it is very interesting to watch and see how they can change "roles".

A month from now she will be a "buyer's agent" and have a view 180-degrees from the current.

Hang in there!

You did right !

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  • 2 weeks later...

I always run dishwashers through a complete cycle, so the thing is done and dry by the time I leave. I don't often run into leaky dishwashers, although I ran into 3 in one week last month. That was weird.

From your description, John, it appears the appliance failed the test, yet since you already 'acknowledged' your liability to the client, they won't forget that and you are probably stuck with a repair bill.

One time on a new build I was checking proper reversing mechanism function on the auto garage door opener and when it was suppose to reverse, the darn thing buckled like crazy at the top. Builder, buyer's agent, buyer, and I were all witnesses. When it happened, I broke the silence and replied "well, it failed the test." The builder repaired the door and opener after the inspection.

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Originally posted by msteger

One time on a new build I was checking proper reversing mechanism function on the auto garage door opener and when it was suppose to reverse, the darn thing buckled like crazy at the top. Builder, buyer's agent, buyer, and I were all witnesses. When it happened, I broke the silence and replied "well, it failed the test." The builder repaired the door and opener after the inspection.

I'm dying to know what the "Test" was.

OT - OF!!!

M.

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I agree with all the above regarding "fault" here. Perhaps it somehow got shut off midway, and perhaps more water leaked after sitting there for a day or so, but no matter what happened or how it turned off, the fact remains that there was an existing leak...and you didn't cause that!

However, and drifting a little...

I realize that appliance testing is, necessarily, limited. In my case with a dishwasher, immediately after the pre-inspection spiel, the normal stuff: check undersink plumbing, check door seal, check mounting, close detergent hatch, etc, etc and then start it up in a short cycle (and tell the agent they are in charge of monitoring for kitchen flooding...makes them feel useful).

The one thing I'm sticking on a little in John's original post is the line... "I'm pretty sure the dishwasher ran from "on" to "off," but of course I can't be absolutely positive."

If you are going to test the dishwasher at all, isn't it "incumbent" to at least open the DW door at or near the end of the inspection to see if it actually pumped out (amongst other things)? Personally, I often get to steam clean my glasses at that point.

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All I meant was, sometimes when my phone rings, I open the dishwasher door to shut the thing down and lower the noise level in the house. Whether or not that happened in that particular house, I don't remember.

I never acknowledged blame or responsibility for the damage to the floor. It's just that when someone calls, and their tone is inflammatory and accusatory, I prefer to respond calmly and logically so the conversation doesn't escalate into something ugly.

I traded a few e-mails last week with the realtor who owns the house in question, and reiterated that if the dishwasher were operating properly there wouldn't have been a leak. I also explained that a mechanical contractor I consulted said the machine wouldn't have leaked unless it had a faulty seal or solenoid.

Maybe the chick will sue me. Maybe not. She would have to establish the chain of causation in which something I did resulted in damage to the floor. She'll have a tough time doing so.

John

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John,

I admire your "manners", but if I were on the other side of issue, you would be buying a new floor. I know how difficult it is with real estate sales people, but there is the other side, you initiated the action and did not clearly state that you terminated it. I know the dishwasher should not leak for a variety of reasons, but apparently it did. Don't know of any laminate floors that are water resistant or recommended for potentially wet locations.

In truth - I likely would not have even made it through the first contact with her. The sales agreement should have a clause, somewhere, that the purchaser is responsible for all damages caused by inspection process.

Gimme her name and address and I run down and visit her this week-end!

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I understand your position, Les, but haven't you ever checked a GFCI that wouldn't reset afterward? When that happens, do you feel as if it's your responsibility to replace the thing? I'm not being obstinate on this one, and my insurance would cover the cost of replacing the floor. When I left the house, the dishwasher was turned off and there was no water on the floor. The buyer's agent has backed me up on this.

If the machine was turned off when I left the house, how am I responsible for any leakage? Power outages occur when dishwashers are running. They don't leak just because a cycle is disrupted.

Ummm, and you're disqualified as an expert witness because you have a previous relationship with the potential defendant . . .

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I have only ever run into one leaking dishwasher and it is one I did not operate. I typically start a cycle at the beginning of the inspections, and ask the buyer or agent to help me keep an eye on it for leaks. This one time it was one of those portable dishwashers that you roll over to the sink; for whatever reason I just ignored the thing. The buyer was a young lady with a new baby. A few months later I ran into her mother and asked how things were. She mentioned that the dishwasher leaked, and her daughter was really upset, because she really wanted a dishwasher in her house, it was a big deal to her. Since I’m the nicest guy in the world, the house was only a few miles away and the buyer is a real hotty, I arranged to go over and check it out. Sure enough the pump was leaking all over. The hotty just sat there with her little baby both being as sweet as could be, the sink filled with dirty dishes. Even though my PIA would have covered me, I wrote her a check for $200.

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Hi,

I never get calls about appliances and don't expect that I ever will. If I do, they'll be reminded about the pre-inspection contract they signed and the pre-inspection talk that we had.

One of the things that I do during my pre-inspection phase with the clients Is explain to them what criteria must be met for me to pay for something, in the event that they think I made an error or omission. I specifically exclude appliances. I tell them that I'll do an on/off check of the appliance to verify that it was "working" at the time of the inspection, but that's it; I don't care how well it was working. I tell them that, where appliances are concerned, if one breaks, even if it's when I'm backing out of the driveway, I'll feel bad for them, but the appliances aren't why I'm there and my inspection isn't a warranty. I tell them that if an appliance is over a year old and out of warranty that they're going to be out-of-pocket for whatever it takes to repair or replace it, because I won't.

Then I tell them what I will do to confirm that the appliances are operational at the time of the inspection. I tell them that, if there aren't any dishes in the dishwasher, I'll run the dishwasher through a cycle to see if it leaks, but that I'm not checking to see how well it actually cleans dishes. I tell them that I'll check the range and oven burners to ensure that they get too hot to touch, but I won't be checking them to verify that they reach a certain temperature and can hold it for any given time - only that they're coming on and going off. I tell them that I only check the disposal to ensure it spins up and doesn't leak, not how well it will grind up food. I tell them I only verify that the built-in microwave works; not how well it works.

There's no ambiguity involved; by the time I'm done with the pre-inspection phase they know that anything related to an appliance failure is going to be their's to deal with. They know this before they even sign the PIA.

The amount of water that a dishwasher uses is not enough to actually overflow the pan, unless there's an internal fault with the dishwasher. They won't leak - even when there's a full wash load of water sitting in the pan - unless there's a leak in the pan, a pump or a hose connection, because the pan is large enough to hold all of that water without overflowing. They won't overflow the pan unless there's a control problem that allows them to overfill, because they're specifically designed not to overfill. They have to design them that way, otherwise someone might start a cycle, turn the thing off, reset the timer and then start the thing filling again, resulting in a flooded kitchen.

If the dishwasher were functioning properly, even if he'd walked out and left the thing full of water, it should not have leaked......period. That's what the 'zoid/owner needs to understand.

I've said it here a kajillion times - you've got to manage their expectations up-front - not after the inspection.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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I've said it here a kajillion times - you've got to manage their expectations up-front - not after the inspection.

And I respectfully disagree every time I read it. There's no need to manage anyones expectations if you know you're going to far exceed them.

My pre-inspection speech, when the clients get out of their car:

"HI....up here. I'm Bill, your inspector. I'll fill ya in when I come down".

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