HELP! Water leak under floor - move tenant to hotel?

20 Replies

Hello BP community! One of my rentals in Houston, TX developed a water leak over the weekend.  My handyman initially thought it was from the washing machine but it turns out that it is coming from under the floor.  I'm not happy about it.  

Apparently the water appears when the tub or the washing machine is used.  I have a plumber coming today to assess things and make recommendations but I have the feeling this will not be a small undertaking.  The couple has 2 young children anD I'm pretty sure the house will be a construction zone. They really should not turn the water on out of fear of further damage and there is already an odor from the damp carpet.

Am I obligated, or is it good practice to, pay for the tenants to stay in a hotel until the repairs are complete? If so, what is a reasonable amount to cover for a hotel room?

This is my first major issue after 2.5 years - any help is greatly appreciated!

Two major questions: 1) Is this the only bathroom in the house? and 2) This one is for the plumber, how long it will take to fix? If they have a 2nd bathroom or the project can be finished in a day, I wouldn't put them up in a motel. Maybe just give them a rental discount if it's bad enough, which would be much cheaper. But if the house is going to be turned into a complete construction zone without a functional bathroom for several days, then yeah, it's pretty standard to put them up in a motel. But you want to get as good an idea as possible as to what you are dealing with and what it will take and how long it will take to fix before you make such a decision.

Thank you @Andrew Syrios for your reply. The plumber is heading there now to assess things. 

The water actually does not affect the bathroom but the small hallway leading to the hall full bath and the bedrooms. It's a small home so the tenants have to walk on the wet area if they want to go get from the bedrooms to the living area and kitchen. 

There are 2 full baths however I'm. It sure of the water leaks when either of them is used. 

Is this concrete slab construction.. ??

Main drain problem maybe, snake it, yes. Hopefully that will take care of outgoing water / sewer.

Call your insurance company you may be covered !!

Basically you have a mini sewer flood, and you don't want it worse. 

Get the carpet treated as quickly as possible, if it's worth saving call the carpet people out, they will extract it  loosen it up in a corner or 2 and put in humidifier's . If it's old tear it out and dry out the floors. 

I'd see how it goes if the tenant can adjust to the living situation then give them a rent discount per day of non use.

If they can't use toilet or have running water offer hotel until you have running water and toilets. but find a lower cost place to put them and check that out first so you know costs.

Also don't make any promises to replace or repair, any of damaged items of the tenants, that is what renter's insurance is for,, you can suggest and help move furniture, and items , raise up with boards, or get to a higher location. to keep out of the water.

Thanks @Deanna McCormick for your awesome response.

It is in fact a concrete slab foundation and I am praying that it is an easy fix.  

Once I get the quote from the plumber I will determine whether its worth making in insurance claim.  I need to verify my deductible.

As soon as they find the source I plan on addressing the carpet.  Based on the pictures, it's likely I'll have to replace it along with some of the vinyl flooring and baseboards. 

I'm hoping it can be repaired today and the bathrooms can be used to avoid the cost of a hotel room if the plumber advises to not use the water at all.


Originally posted by @Denise Mayo-Walley :

Thank you @Andrew Syrios for your reply. The plumber is heading there now to assess things. 

The water actually does not affect the bathroom but the small hallway leading to the hall full bath and the bedrooms. It's a small home so the tenants have to walk on the wet area if they want to go get from the bedrooms to the living area and kitchen. 

There are 2 full baths however I'm. It sure of the water leaks when either of them is used. 

In that case, unless the plumber will need to turn the house into a giant construction zone, I wouldn't put them up in a motel. Think about it this way, if this tenant was a homeowner, would they stick it out while it was being fixed, or would they hole up in a motel? I think in this case, they would stick it out. So maybe just offer them a rental discount if it's really bad. But if it can be fixed quickly, I'm not even sure that is necessary.

@Denise Mayo-Walley sounds like you have a broken drain pipe in the slab.

1. Cast iron rusted and was time to go.
2. Pvc pipe in concrete was not wrapped in the concrete.

Slab, they need to saw cut and then jack hammer il the slab.

Plumber will stick a camera down to check.

Good luck.

There is a possibility of a water leak under the slab. And when the water runs it comes up. We have had two of those in our house. Once the plumber found the bad spot, we rerouted the line through the attic. Good luck.

Contact your insurance agent right away, and take photo's of damage. I was told inside pipe break and damage I would be covered, outside exterior pipe break no coverage.

I actually have a water main line break they are fixing for me today, we saw pool  of standing water outside next to the slab foundation on my rental.  It took us a day of digging to find the break, we were told if it was under foundation the plumber would have to repair, and outside of foundation the water main people would repair.. All in all were quoted 5 to 7 K to fix.  If it had been under the slab I would have had had bigger expense but might have been covered. 

Good luck with your fix. 

@Deanna McCormick @Kurt K. @Taye N. @Andrew Syrios

I truly, truly appreciate everyone's input.  The plumber was there for 1.5 hours yesterday and said he could not find a leak underground.  He said they ran all the faucets and used the washing machine and did not see any water leaking.

As he continued to troubleshoot he noticed that the toilet was so loose that you could spin in almost all the way around.  He then said the floor flange appeared to original (1980s) and that the wax ring needed to be replaced. He thinks that since the flange is not functioning properly the water is likely leaking underneath the bathroom floor.  Of course the tenants never mentioned the toilet being that loose. 

This company's fees are $45 for the trip and $499.95 to install a new floor flange.  It sounds expensive for what it entails. He was not able to fix it yesterday because he did not have the right flange.  That buys me some time to contact other plumbing companies.

Of course it could always still be more serious leak under the foundation but I hope I don't make an expensive toilet repair only to find out it was an even bigger problem.

Wish me luck!

I'd get second opinion,  Have who ever comes use a FLIR Camera and see what the camera detects as it will show water under the cement, it's a thermo camera, used to detect leaks.

CHECK the water meter,, IS IT spinning.. this will let help tell if incoming water is causing leak.

Sewer camera would be next option for me before flange repair work is started. 

I'd doubt it's just the flange,, they'd have flush that toilet a whole bunch for just that to be issue in my opinion.

@Deanna McCormick You are correct. If the water meter is still spinning once all of the water is turned off in the house, then it is a slab leak. I know. It happened twice to me residence.

@Kurt K. Yes the water meter is the first place to look when you have water issues.

I hope she get's it fixed, I was curious how your plumber rerouted the line thru the attic. I doubt we could do it in Minnesota because of our weather.

My incoming water line was broke, about a foot out from foundation at a connection and 6 feet down. They finished the repair and I'm waiting for the bill, guy said maybe 5 grand.. and not covered by insurance for me.. but we got it fixed before freezing weather and that would have been much harder to fix, he said frozen ground price doubles.

@Deanna McCormick We hardly don't have freezing temps here in Phoenix about every once in a while we get a freeze warning that might last a couple of nights. The plumber ran some kind of flexible plastic tubing through the attic to by pass all of the infrastructure. 

As you said, I doubt you could do this in Minneapolis because of the cold. I get goosebumps just talking about it.

So.....this situation has turned into a disaster.

The first plumber was distracted by the loose toilet and chose to address that first.  He did contact me before fixing it and mentioned that eventually I would need to have the cartridge in the master tub repaired because there was a significant leak.  He did not look further into that leak to determine the extent for to see if that was what caused the leak.  So the day after the toilet is repaired, MORE WATER!!!!! And a lot of it.  

Turns out that cartridge was causing a leak behind the wall. Water made it into the master bedroom, the hall, towards both secondary bedrooms and half the living area.  The plumbing company came back out and repaired it and I went to see the property the next day and the house had started smelling very damp.  I contacted a water clean up company and they used an infrared camera and the water had gotten farther than one would think.

Now, I am making the dreaded insurance claim because all the flooring must be removed along with the baseboards.  The estimate is anywhere from $3500-$4500.  Issues on the weekend are no bueno.  Learned today that money spent on repairs isn't applied towards the deductible, only funds used to repair damage are. 

I'm trying to look at the bright side and at least now I can get the ceramic tile that looks like wood and increase the rent.

Sorry to hear about your disaster @Denise Mayo-Walley hoping it will get better but water damage is the worst. Unfortunately you might have to cut the bottom of your sheetrock up a couple of feet but lets not hope thats not the case.

What are you doing about your tenants? It sounds like it might be a while before this is cleaned up. And yes, with an insurance claim you should get all new flooring. Good luck.

Hello there @Kurt K. ! The clean up process will take approximately 3 days. I asked the tenants if they had somewhere they could stay and they can stay with a family member. I will give them a rent discount for not staying there those 3 days. Of course if they did not have a place to stay I would have cried while finding a hotel for them to stay in. The company said it would be possible to stay there but into would Ben cluttered with fans and very noisy. And they have kids so I wouldn't consider that as being a safe environment for them. 

Ask your insurance agent if loss of rent is covered, you may have loss if you have to give concession for them relocating and if job takes longer tenant might push for more $$$ make sure  you add this possibility to claim. 

Glad you sourced the water issue. 

@Denise Mayo-Walley We are currently going through a very similar situation. A pipe broke and we had water flooding the house for about an hour until we could get onsite to turnoff the water.

I'm interested to hear what your insurance covered?

Currently we are offering to cover 1) drying out of the property, 2) replacement of the damaged floor (includes moving tenants property into storage), 3) 'restoration' - replacing baseboards and drywall removed for drying out.

The insurance company is disputing that a) the house was inhabitable during the drying process (note they have removed some of the vinyl floor and b) the final cleaning of the house (the tenant is complaining about dust on the appliances and in the cabinets).

I'd like to know how it ended for you.



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