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Thread: bathtub drain leak

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member Mae's Avatar
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    Default bathtub drain leak

    Hi,
    I live in an apartment building and today a couple of the people who work for the contractors came by to take a look at our apartment because the people below us have water leaking into their apartment in the carpeting by their bathroom and the wall is a bit wet too. It was determined by the contractor that the problem was coming from our bathtub drain because the screw that held the drain to the siphon was loose. Does this sound correct? It just strikes me as strange that it can be so easy to cause a big leak to the apartment below us with just a loose screw. Is this typical? Futhermore the contractor said that we are responsible for paying the damages. Is this a common problem? It seems to me that it shouldn't be so easy to cause water damage. Any comments could be helpful...
    Thanks in advance,
    Mae

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    I won't get into the liability thing, but yes, a loose screw in some drain designs will allow water to leak. On some, that screw is hidden, so I don't see how you could be liable...you would have no way of knowing it was leaking unless you were downstairs. If they waited a long time to report it, THEY may be liable for damages, since they knew about it.

    It is the landlords responsibilty to provide a working set of facilities. Unless you loosened the screw and did some maintenance you weren't authorized, I think he's on the hook...I'd fight it. (but, then again, I'm not a lawyer nor do I have to live with the landlord).
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  3. #3
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    Don't know where the leak was, since your terminlogy is off. WHat is the "siphon"? If your are referring to the overflow plate on the back of the tub, yes there is a gasket behind, and if the gasket is worn or the screw loose, it can leak.

    Often this situation will be un-noticed if the tub is used only for showers, but if used for a bath, and the user causes the water to rise up to that level, it will leak right away.


    Don't want to play lawyer, but a tenant should not be responsible for routine maintenance and wear and tear items. Unless you were grossly negligent somehow in what you did, this is just a failure of the landlord to properly inspect and maintain his property. If the landlord tries to take this out of your deposit when you leave, then it will be resolved in small claims court. If he tries to send you a bill before hand, politely tell him to get bent. Tell the contractor to not talk to you at all. He needs to refer any issues to the owner of the property.

  4. #4
    DIY Junior Member Mae's Avatar
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    The leak was in the bathtub/shower in the drain, where the water drains out when we shower or after a bath. It leaked underneath the bathtub (which was made to be waterproof), but the water eventually made it to the opposite wall and leaked down to the apartment below us. Anyway that's what the constructor told us. His story seems plausible. Underneath the bathtub was pretty damp. The water that gets there is supposed to evaporate on its own but apparently it was too much water.

    I had unscrewed the drain to take out hair like a month ago and then screwed it back on but then I must not have tightened the screw enough, and it loosened and the leaking started though we didn't know it for awhile. And I had no idea there would be so much leaking if the screw was loosened. But in the owner's manual to the apartment, which my renter passed me, it said that you are supposed to clean out the drain like that as maintenance to the apartment, in the drains in the bathroom and in the kitchen. So I don't know. Maybe, Im just going to have to pay for not getting the screw tight enough.

    Even so, I feel that the drain design is water damage waiting to happen, because how many people probably clean out the drain and then don't get the screw on well or if the screw loosens on its own over time it causes quite the problem.

    Thanks for responding Jimbo and Jadnashau. I thought this might be abnormal because I've never heard of it happening before, but I guess not.

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    DIY Member jed1154's Avatar
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    I had unscrewed the drain to take out hair like a month ago and then screwed it back on but then I must not have tightened the screw enough
    First, keep your mouth shut about that unless you want to flush your money 'down the drain'.

    Second, that shouldnt have caused any leak, that screw doesnt 'hold the drain together' IIRC.

  6. #6
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Well, depends on the model. The drain I have on my tub has a large hollow nut that holds the drain basket in place (the stopper shaft fits through the hole in the middle). It screws into the drain on the bottom of the tub and compresses the interior drain to the part below, and squashes it to the gasket that makes the seal. If this is loose, it can and does leak. It is more common to have the basket screw into the part below which squashes the gasket or plumber's putty to make the seal.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  7. #7
    DIY Junior Member Mae's Avatar
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    So could I argue that the drain I have is poorly designed since there are drains that don't depend on one screw to hold them together? Or is the drain I have pretty common?

    I don't think they can pin the entire problem on us either. The people in the apartment below us complained to the contractor (the building is like 2.5 years old) and the contractor took forever to respond. Plus no one told us about the water leaking into the apartment below us (which would've been the obvious thing to do) until the contractor finally got here 4 or 6 weeks after the problem originated. If we'd been told there was a leak, I would have never figured it had to do with a loose screw but at least we could have talked to a plumber to see what he thought was the problem.

    And the people below had had another leak problem 6 months ago that was the contractor's fault because one of there pipes in the bathroom ceiling was cracked.

    All of this is a bit frustrating, but the damage hopefully isn't too bad. Our neighboors bathroom door frame is a bit swollen and will have to be replaced. And the carpeting is wet by the bathroom door. They want to replace the carpet in the whole bedroom which would be a bit spendy. I just hope there are no other damages or like mold under the carpet or something.

    Anyway, thanks for the help.

  8. #8
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    My point of view...they should never allow a renter in a multifamily dwelling to perform a plumber's job. By telling you to take the drain apart if you wanted to remove hair is sort of like a surgeon telling you to take out your appendix. It's not good! Where I live, in a multifamily dwelling it is illegal for anyone but a licensed professional to perform any plumbing or electrical work. Disassembling a drain, in my view anyways, is plumbing; maybe one of the easier things, but still plumbing.

    As to the design, most are not expected to be disassembled on a regular basis, so if the system works, it's okay. A plumber would know how tight it needs to be; a homeowner might not, plus, they may not understand the ramifications of incorrect procedure or errors in assembly.

    I would fight it.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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