Rehab risks: Part I

Thermal imagine discovered an usual problem with the toilet.

Many rehabbers cut corners in order to maximize profit. One way they do this is to hire cheap, low-skilled workers who lack the training and experience to do good work.  

At a recent Logan Square rahab, we found that the rehabber’s “plumber” connected hot water to a toilet.  It’s not always possible to find a defect like this on an inspection since a flush or two usually isn’t enough to get fresh hot water to make its way to the toilet.  This bathroom was right next to the utility room where the water heater is located, so the hot water didn’t have far to go.  After noticing the valve was hot, I touched the tank – it was scalding hot as well.

This isn’t just an amusing mistake.  Toilets are not designed to be supplied with hot water, which can damage the internal components in the tank. Hot water could even cause the tank to crack or the supply connection to fail and leak.  That could cause serious flooding, property damage, mold growth, and other problems.  

My dad taught me to touch every accessible water supply valve during my inspections.  Here’s why: When you touch a valve, you often feel a small, slow leak you might not have otherwise found. Water shut-off valves are often hard to see, since they’re typically located under sinks and behind toilets. They can leak for quite a while (and cause substantial damage) without anyone noticing. 

And, of course, you might also notice that the plumber didn’t know enough to tell hot from cold.  Maybe cold water runs to the dishwasher (it won’t work very well without hot water) or hot water goes to the icemaker or toilet.