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I got a frantic call today from my cousin. Her friend was selling her house and the first couple to look at it was about 1 hour away. While she did a last minute tidy up, she was horrified when she went into her daughter’s room. The carpet was soaking wet and there was a horrible smell. She is a do it yourselfer so she looked around then ripped the carpet up to try and find the source. She couldn't. That’s when I got the call.
So I get there and start to look around. As I'm looking around, the potential buyers show up. Well as you can imagine, first impression and all, they were out of there within 2 minutes. The seller tried to explain it would be taken care of, but you never get a second first impression. Count that couple out.
Anyways, I look for the simple stuff first. The windows and the ceiling (roof) weren’t leaking. Besides, it hasn't rained here in days. So the source must be internal. On the other side of the wall was the bathroom. I take a look see in there. One of the things that catch my eye is the separation between the tile and the base boards. I mention, “you know, if someone took a shower, the water could over flow/splash out of the tub, onto the floor, then flow under this wall into the next room”. Well I got an ear full on that one. No way can that happen. The shower curtain is always closed. Her son had showed there this morning and she knows it was closed. I couldn't get another word in edge wise, that could NOT be the problem. If that was the problem, it would have happened years ago she claimed.
I checked the toilet. After all, she had stated how she had recently changed the ball valve and had to tighten down the toilet because it was loose. Now I knew exactly what it was and tried to explain it to her again. The overflow from the shower was....NO WAY, it can't be, there must be a broken sewer pipe, and don’t you smell that odor? And yes, the bedroom had a nice urine odor. But sewer is not a urine smell, it is much fouler.
The hardest part in this whole ordeal was how upset she already was. She had just lost her first potential buyer and she was convincing herself that a plumber would have to break through the concrete to fix the sewer lines. It took me a lot of patience and small talk to not only gain her confidence but to calm her down. After listening to maybe 45 minutes of stories, talking about our kids and looking around the house, I tried again.
I said, hey can I have a glass of water? I wasn't thirsty, I wanted to try something. But I took a sip like I was. We walked back into the bathroom and stood there for a moment. Then I asked her if she minded if I tried pouring a little water on the floor to see what happened? She was calmer now, and said OK. I poured the glass of water on the floor, it flowed straight to the wall and underneath it. We walked to the other side, and the water was pooling up right where the stain was. She looked at me and smiled and just shook her head.
So, now that she believed me, she asked me to explain it all.
Carpet wet, padding had slight mold - The water from the shower splashed onto the floor then rolled under the wall into the bedroom. I asked and she said yes, her son, who left for college today had taken an abnormally long shower, he was nervous about going to college. So the normal showers put a little water in there, causing the mold and saturating the pad and carpet. With today’s longer shower, there was enough water to seep up through the carpet and feel it.
B ut why did it flow now and not before - The DIY fix on the toilet bowl. When something is loose, the best answer is not always to just tighten the bolts. The bolts are set into the concrete and fasten onto the toilet bowl. In between the two is the floor tile. When she over tightened the bolt's, the tile was the item to give and broke free. It was slight, but enough to break the caulk seam between the tile and the baseboard. The water would now follow the grade towards the wall, into the gap, under the wall and into the next room.
But the smell? - She had put in brand new carpet about 1 year ago. But she didn't replace the tack strips. I surmised that the previous owner had pets (She confirmed they did). When pets urinate in the house, they like to do it along the edges, where the tack strip is. When the urine dries out, it crystallizes and the odor is minimal if at all. But now add a water source, and the odors returns.
So now she has lost her first set of potential buyers and she can't bring anymore over this weekend until it is fixed. I suggested that she needs to reseat the toilet too. Although I doubt it, she may have crushed the wax ring. I recommended a plumber does it this time. She also needs to have the carpet cleaned and most likely replace the padding.
As we know Murphy well, the worst will happen at the worst time as it certainly did for her here. And believe it or not, the whole thing could have been prevented by a tube of caulk. Had she re-caulked where it had separated along the base board, then the adjacent room would never have been flooded. The water would have most likely pooled up and brought her attention to a potential problem, but before it caused any real damage.
Disclaimer: ActiveRain Corp. does not necessarily endorse the real estate agents, loan officers and brokers listed on this site. These real estate profiles, blogs and blog entries are provided here as a courtesy to our visitors to help them make an informed decision when buying or selling a house. ActiveRain Corp. takes no responsibility for the content in these profiles, that are written by the members of this community.