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House with plumbing issues

Discussion in 'Repairs & Maintenance' started by Observer, 18th Sep, 2015.

  1. Observer

    Observer Well-Known Member

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    Hello guys,

    I've made an offer on a house and recently did a B&P inspection. It uncovered some major issues in the plumbing of the house. The one most worrying is that there is evidence of possible water pipe leaks behind the brickwork (white efflorescence and brick spalling/crumbling). Such white kind of "salt" is visible in many places on the walls of the house (see photos attached). However, there are no visible leaks on the inside of house walls.

    Has anyone dealt with this? Is this a huge pain to fix?

    There is also a significant moisture reading behind the shower wall which probably means that the shower tiles were not sealed properly. While not that expensive to reseal if the plumbers are saying that if significant damage was done to the wall itself (which can only be uncovered by opening it up) it may require significant money to fix.

    Also, there are issues with drainage with down pipes are not connected to storm water. On top of that there is no chemical barrier around the exterior perimeter of a structure to prevent termites (got quote of $2850 to do the treatment).

    Initially wanted a low maintenance house (and thought that it was the one) but now have significant doubts. My thinking is that it's better to let it go based on unsatisfactory B&P inspection results.

    Thoughts?
     

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  2. Propertunity

    Propertunity Exclusive Real Estate Buyers Agent Business Member

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    You can remove the efflorescence with a mild acid solution or there are specific cleaners on the market for this - see Bunnings. However, you need to find the cause. It could be water behind the brick wall - leaking pipe or bad drainage when it rains. It could also be a damp course failure.

    Waterproof membrane failure. Remove tiles, redo membrane, relay tiles. May as well do a full bathroom reno while you're at it.

    That's often the case with many houses - not too much of an issue and easily fixed. Many older homes just ran storm water off the roof onto the ground.

    That's also pretty normal. Most homes do not have a termite system in place.
     
  3. Observer

    Observer Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Propertunity. I'm not worried about the efflorescence itseft. Rather about the cause of it. If it is indeed because of leaking pipes that may be costly to fix as the bricks will need to come out.

    Overall the bathroom does not look too bad. It's just the shower wall that needs to be addressed at this stage.

    I thought that the houses are supposed to have a termite system in place. The price of it is pretty low comparing to the consequences and the cost of fixing termite related issues down the track.
     
  4. Propertunity

    Propertunity Exclusive Real Estate Buyers Agent Business Member

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    It may not look bad but a leaking shower causes wood rot behind the scenes and attracts termites. It needs fixing properly.

    No, it has never been a requirement.

    Agreed.
     
  5. willair

    willair Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    A very quick low cost way is just employ a lic plumber for about one hour and have her-him pressure test the entire system ,that will tell you upfront if you need costly repairs or it's something more simple..imho..
     
  6. dabbler

    dabbler Well-Known Member

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    If it were pressure pipes, and it is gyprock inside, you would see the damage, unless for some reason the pipe is chased into the brick (highly unlikely in brick veneer, I would say it is coming from the ground....... The brickwork does not look wet in the images.

    The bathroom would be the same, if there is that much water, the gyprock or adjacent areas will not escape visible damage, so if it is minor leaking, you can re seal tiles to see if that fixes it, cheaper than taking tiles off etc, get some people to look at it.

    Every house, like cars, has something, talk to the person who did the report, and if no other problems, you could probably work something out.
     
  7. Brian84

    Brian84 Well-Known Member

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    Well said Alan.
     
  8. WestOz

    WestOz Well-Known Member

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    @Observer
    Seen your OP on Friday, personally, too many maybe's/assumptions/variables without site inspection, thought I'd see what others piped in with.

    So far the only one that stands out to sort the issue before considering cosmetics is @willair
    Get a local recommended Lic plumber to check it and the rest of the house out, only way to have peace of mind.
     
  9. Observer

    Observer Well-Known Member

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    Hi dabbler. It's indeed a brick veneer house with gyprock inside. On the inside of the house there is no visible water damage to the gyprock. The brickwork is not wet as well. It's just that white 'salt' visible on the bricks. What could be the reason for it coming from the ground?

    Same for the shower. There is no visible damage to the gyprock or adjacent areas. Just high moisture reading on the wall. Thus, resealing the tiles sounds like an option. Sure will need some guys to look at this if I decide to proceed with the purchase.
     
  10. Observer

    Observer Well-Known Member

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    Thanks willair. Great advice!
     
  11. Observer

    Observer Well-Known Member

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    Can anyone recommend a plumber in Brisbane who can check this tomorrow as it's the last day of the B&P condition?
     
  12. Scott No Mates

    Scott No Mates Well-Known Member

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    Not all types of efflorescence should be treated with acid. This treatment may 'set' the staining in the brickwork.

    Check if the efflorescence is water soluble..

    It may be possible to remove by brushing (& flossing).

    How many courses up is the dampcourse?
     
    Last edited: 21st Sep, 2015
  13. dabbler

    dabbler Well-Known Member

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    Water could draining incorrectly or have a path under the house, however it is hard to tell without looking at the place. I am not sure the problem is even from water.

    I would be discussing all these things with the person who did the report, I would also be talking to solicitor first thing, I can't tell you exactly what to do, but I would ask for a delay due to issues found so you can work out costs or if you will proceed.

    The person who did the report should be able to give more info. The shower is probably less of a problem than what the wall potentially may be, because if the bricks are failing, well that is nothing small.
     
  14. WestOz

    WestOz Well-Known Member

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    I'd discuss the situation with settlement agent, see if it can be extended.

    Is it possible the gutters are overflowing back into the eves, down the cavity, moisture siting where I've placed the red arrow (don't know what that spot is called?) bricks sucking it up.
    Perhaps there's no vents?

    [​IMG]
     
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  15. mush

    mush Well-Known Member

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    Hi Observer,

    As others have stated,it is difficult to diagnose problems from limited information and a couple of pictures. That said,if there were problems with leaking showers and particularly burst pipes then you should be seeing a lot more damage on the internal gyprock wall.
    Although pressure testing is a great way of determining if the pipes are leaking,thermal imaging would allow you to "see" the pipes and determine any leaks.
    From your pics though we can see that the damp to the external brickwork is spread over a reasonably long area where as a leaking pipe would normally be more concentrated.
    I suspect a far simpler answer.
    I think that this wall is the most exposed area of the property to inclement weather,(rain),and the brickwork has become eroded over the years increasing its damp retention capabilities. The solid,underlying paved surface looks to be well sealed resulting in water retention,pooling and splashing onto the low lying brickwork increasing the problem and probably being sucked upwards in a capillary motion.
    Solution; cut away a channel of the paving,(100mm should suffice),and fill with pea shingle or a similar drainage aiding material,even a gulley,anything to get the water away from that wall. Once the bricks dry out ,use a coloured mortar to patch ,or, replace worst effected bricks. Clean efflorescence with stiff brush,(NEVER use hydrochloric acid).
     
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  16. mush

    mush Well-Known Member

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    Also the downpipes not discharging to an adequate outlet are most definitely contributing to what appears to be an external moisture problem.Bear in mind that efflorescence does not effect the structural integrity of the property,a drainage channel should not discharge water with sufficient force to effect the footings(soil type dependent),and,the inclusion of a termite resistant chemical barrier will solve the problem of the creation of a conducive condition.
    However,directing the excess moisture away from the house would most certainly be the most desirable outcome.
     
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  17. Observer

    Observer Well-Known Member

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    Thanks everyone! All of you are very helpful.

    Unfortunately the seller decided not to reduce the price despite the negotiation from our side with provided quotes. Other than plumbing there were some other major/minor issues so we've decided to exit the contract based on the unsatisfactory B&P.

    Lesson for me - always do B&P, best ever spent $500 :).

    There will always be another deal just around the corner. Keep looking...
     
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  18. Observer

    Observer Well-Known Member

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    Overflowing gutters could actually be the reason. Also, it does look like there is no vents.
     
  19. Observer

    Observer Well-Known Member

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    That's right. I think the downpipes definitely contribute to the issue.
     
  20. Richard Williams

    Richard Williams Buyers Agent - Southeast QLD Business Member

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    No one has mentioned the lack of sealing around the tap trims, so many places (and old places in particular) have the hot and cold tap separate (2 unsealed entry points), the tap collars/trims are held onto the wall with a spring, no silicone or seal, when showering the water splashes and runs down the tiles and seeps behind into the wall cavity or on the back of the sheeting. This can be checked during a building and pest, point the shower head to the taps on full hot, use a thermal camera and it will show if water is leaking down the back of the wall. I silicon the trims to stop this. (yes its a pain to change washers but easier that repairing a damaged house!)
     
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