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Thread: Advice needed

  1. #1
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    Default Advice needed

    Thank you for the feedback!

    Last edited by Charles McCracken; 09-26-2013 at 09:12 PM.
    F.I.R.E. Services

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Advice needed

    I don't rely on an external tester to verify the functionality of a GFCI receptacle or breaker. The built-in test button is the only reliable method of determining that the device operates as designed. Many times a third party tester has proven to be unreliable.

    As far as the leak, I would have spent a few minutes investigating the source of the leak at the time of the discovery. Was it stored liquids that spilled under the sink? Sloppy housekeeping? Leaking drainpipe? Who knows, you were there, and anything's possible. When I find a leak, I like to have some indication of where it came from, your mileage may vary of course, but now you know why.

    Dom.


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    Default Re: Advice needed

    I'm confused.



    When I got there the GFCI when tripped with my tester still would not reset, but worked when tested manually?
    If it would not resetn how did you test it manually?

    Did you photograph the leak?

    Steven Turetsky, UID #16000002314
    homeinspectionsnewyork.com
    eifsinspectionsnewyork.com

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    Default Re: Advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Steven Turetsky View Post
    I'm confused.




    If it would not resetn how did you test it manually?

    Did you photograph the leak?
    Thanks for the follow up guys.

    When I returned I tested the outlet again with my Ideal surefile arc/ GFCI tester and it would trip, but not reset. When the owner tripped it manually it would reset.

    The leak was photographed with a thermal imaging camera and I confirmed it was water at the time of inspection not a chemical of some kind stored beneath the sink.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Advice needed

    Any GFCI that doesn't reset using the device's button is defective, no matter what triggered the disconnect. (Assuming no faulty device is on the circuit that is causing the fault)

    As for the leak:

    Did you test the sink base with a moisture meter? Was it an active event? Did you locate the source of the leak?
    If you ran oodles of water and it never leaked, you may have been better off stating that there was a "recent leak" that has been cleared; that you could not positively identify the source of the leak, but the wood cabinet is ....(xyz, abc, whatever) and that so-and so should repair it.

    Dom.


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    Default Re: Advice needed

    Thank you for your feedback!

    Last edited by Charles McCracken; 10-02-2013 at 03:46 AM.

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    Default Re: Advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles McCracken View Post
    Thanks for the follow up guys.

    When I returned I tested the outlet again with my Ideal surefile arc/ GFCI tester and it would trip, but not reset. When the owner tripped it manually it would reset.

    The leak was photographed with a thermal imaging camera and I confirmed it was water at the time of inspection not a chemical of some kind stored beneath the sink.
    Your tester might be screwed up... But I also do not understand something.... Are you saying that when you tripped the GFCI with the tester and you removed the tester from the receptical and then you pushed the reset button, it would not reset? How was it able to be reset after you tripped it?

    Did you see a puddle of water or did you just see a spot on the IR camera screen?

    Can you post a picture of the puddle?

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

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    Default Re: Advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    Your tester might be screwed up... But I also do not understand something.... Are you saying that when you tripped the GFCI with the tester and you removed the tester from the receptical and then you pushed the reset button, it would not reset? How was it able to be reset after you tripped it?

    Did you see a puddle of water or did you just see a spot on the IR camera screen?

    Can you post a picture of the puddle?

    GREAT question Scott! When the tester was used the outlet was able to be reset from the upstairs master bathroom. When it was tested manually using the test button it was able to be reset locally like it should.

    Puddle of water was not visible due to the glossy wood surface under the cabinet it was located using a thermal imager and confirmed by me putting my hand into a medium sized puddle of water underneath the sink.

    IR000143.jpg


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    Default Re: Advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles McCracken View Post
    GREAT question Scott! When the tester was used the outlet was able to be reset from the upstairs master bathroom. When it was tested manually using the test button it was able to be reset locally like it should.
    You are not painting a very clear picture, at least to me.
    Were there two GFCI's on one circuit?
    One GFCI was in the master bath and the 2nd GFCI that did not reset
    If that is correct then...
    The tester you used caused the GFCI in the master bath to trip before the 2nd GFCI.
    Therefore the GFCI in the Master bath needed to be reset before power was restored at the 2nd GFCI.
    When tested manually at the 2nd GFCI with the built in test button, you could reset it at that location.
    This is because the using the test button on the 2nd GFCI will not trip the GFCI in the master bath.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    You are not painting a very clear picture, at least to me.
    Were there two GFCI's on one circuit?
    One GFCI was in the master bath and the 2nd GFCI that did not reset
    If that is correct then...
    The tester you used caused the GFCI in the master bath to trip before the 2nd GFCI.
    Therefore the GFCI in the Master bath needed to be reset before power was restored at the 2nd GFCI.
    When tested manually at the 2nd GFCI with the built in test button, you could reset it at that location.
    This is because the using the test button on the 2nd GFCI will not trip the GFCI in the master bath.
    Yes to the first answer! Execept the GFCI in the master never tripped. After the downstairs bathroom was tripped I went back upstairs to check the master and it was working. I pressed the reset button just to see what would happen and bingo the downstairs bath GFCI lit back up.


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    Default Re: Advice needed

    I am going with Rick's assessment. Redundant GFCI devices. While not necessarily unsafe, it is confusing. Pretty much any homeowner will have difficulty understanding why, when they have a device in one bathroom, it is necessary to go to a different bathroom to reset. Explain that to the stupid agent.

    Leaks under sinks are difficult. Sometimes I will find leaks after the pest inspector does not and visa-versa. You have documentation and an image. If it were me, I would write up an addendum stating that a puddle of water was present under the sink at the original inspection, which indicated an active leak. Then state no puddle was found when you went back, but you cannot verify if it was correctly repaired. Recommend the buyers obtain documentation of repairs from the seller.

    Department of Redundancy Department
    http://www.FullCircleInspect.com/

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    Default Re: Advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar Alquist View Post
    Explain that to the stupid agent.
    I don't recommend Charles explain it unless/until he fully understands it himself.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles McCracken View Post
    Yes to the first answer! Execept the GFCI in the master never tripped. After the downstairs bathroom was tripped I went back upstairs to check the master and it was working. I pressed the reset button just to see what would happen and bingo the downstairs bath GFCI lit back up.
    There should not be two GFCI outlets in series because of the scenario that you describe. This is especially true with the newer generation of GFCI outlets that require power to be present to the circuit before they reset. Although there may not be a specific prohibition of the practice it can lead to unnecessary service calls and is a poor practice that reeks of a DIY installation. Just because there was no leak when you went back to check and there was a way to work around the defect in the electrical circuit does not mean there was no problem. When an agent (or anyone else) starts yelling, that is the time for a "dropped" call.

    IMHO you made a mistake in the way you described the condition but not in the facts. Your call as to how to proceed.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Plano, Texas

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    Default Re: Advice needed

    I have found many puddles under sinks, but could not fins any pipes leaking. I chalked it up to the homeowner spilling something, or something leaking. I'm curious how you determined it was water. Did you taste it?
    I would only write up a leak if I could actually see a leak. I usually fill the sinks all the way so the increased head pressure will sometimes show a leak that does not show up with just water running.
    If I found a puddle that I could not determine the source, I might use a paper towel or something to mop it up, and see if I could recreate the leak by running a lot of water.

    The redundant GFCI is pretty common, and should not have been that hard to figure out in my opinion. I would think it would have come up during the initial inspection when you were testing all of the bathroom outlets.


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Feldmann View Post
    I have found many puddles under sinks, but could not fins any pipes leaking. I chalked it up to the homeowner spilling something, or something leaking. I'm curious how you determined it was water. Did you taste it?
    I would only write up a leak if I could actually see a leak. I usually fill the sinks all the way so the increased head pressure will sometimes show a leak that does not show up with just water running.
    If I found a puddle that I could not determine the source, I might use a paper towel or something to mop it up, and see if I could recreate the leak by running a lot of water.

    The redundant GFCI is pretty common, and should not have been that hard to figure out in my opinion. I would think it would have come up during the initial inspection when you were testing all of the bathroom outlets.
    Thank you for all the replies everyone it helps me to better understand how I may have better described this on the report.

    Just to be clear the master bathroom GFCI never tripped. Once the donwstairs GFCI didnt trip when I used my tester on it I went back upstairs to check the master which was upstream. This master bathroom was not tripped as tested. Once I hit the reset button on the master (even though it was still working) the downstairs worked. I understand how downstream GFCI's work and this is the first item I thought of. Would this not be considered a defect?


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    Default Re: Advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles McCracken View Post
    I did a home inspection about a week ago and found a local GFCI wouldn’t reset when tested with my ideal surefire arc tester and wrote it up it needed to be corrected by an electrician.

    I also found a medium sized “puddle” under the kitchen sink and wrote it up that an licensed plumber needs to investigate to find and locate the leak.

    Well two days ago the agent who was working for the seller (I was working for the buyer) called and said I was wrong these two defects were nonexistent. So I agreed to go back on my own time to show the agent and seller.

    When I got there the GFCI when tripped with my tester still would not reset, but worked when tested manually?
    Why would this happen was my assessment wrong does it operate correctly although the tester when tripped it would not reset?

    I also could not locate the leak under the kitchen sink even though I operated everything (DW, disposal, hand held sprayer, and faucet). Even though there was a puddle of water at the time of inspection last week I couldn’t find the leak.

    What should I do now it looks like they have me on the hook for two wrong defects? I still believe I was correct, but the outlet works when tripped manually and I can’t find the source of the leak.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated I’m figuring out what to advise my client even as I write you this email.

    Also I should let you know the selling agent was extremely hostile and I was very polite even though basically being yelled at the whole time.
    Regarding the GFCI, it was a learning experience. Typically when I use an external tester and there are two GFCI receptacles in series the upstream one trips, sometimes they both trip. Either way, I have learned from experience that I need to reset the upstream one before I will have power (or can reset) the one I was testing. I explain this to the client because it is confusing.

    Regarding the leak, maybe they spilled something, maybe the leak is intermittent. Take a photo to show it was there. Why bother with the IR camera? It will not give as clear a photo and what does it prove?


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    Default Re: Advice needed

    You need to be sure there is a problem when you report it. Water is leaking from ............ a loose drain nut that can be tightened by hand?

    The GFCI in the master BR is indeed tripping for your tester, but only a bit. If it stays energized in the master BR, then it is faulty, very common with old units. The faulty unit is in the master bath, in that case.

    A minor leak and a $15 component? You wouldn't be going back if you had solved the mysteries while you were there.

    Always test the manual button as well as using a tester. Something I picked up here from Jerry P.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

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    Default Re: Advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Reinmiller View Post
    Regarding the GFCI, it was a learning experience. Typically when I use an external tester and there are two GFCI receptacles in series the upstream one trips, sometimes they both trip. Either way, I have learned from experience that I need to reset the upstream one before I will have power (or can reset) the one I was testing. I explain this to the client because it is confusing.

    Regarding the leak, maybe they spilled something, maybe the leak is intermittent. Take a photo to show it was there. Why bother with the IR camera? It will not give as clear a photo and what does it prove?
    Very good point Mike I totally agree. The picture with my digital camera was very hard to see the puddle because the the glossy hardwood underneath the sink. When I took the thermal imaging picture the puddle lit up like the 4th of July. I did make sure to explain the picture in the report so the client knew what they were looking at (they were there for the inspection as well and saw/felt the puddle of water).

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    You need to be sure there is a problem when you report it. Water is leaking from ............ a loose drain nut that can be tightened by hand?

    The GFCI in the master BR is indeed tripping for your tester, but only a bit. If it stays energized in the master BR, then it is faulty, very common with old units.

    A minor leak and a $15 component? You wouldn't be going back if you had solved the mysteries while you were there.
    John, This is the biggest learning experience I can say from my standpoint. I will never go back and try to explain my findings to anyone other than my client in the future.

    Last edited by Charles McCracken; 10-02-2013 at 03:48 AM.

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    Default Re: Advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles McCracken View Post
    This is the biggest learning experience I can say from my standpoint. I will never go back and try to explain my findings to anyone other than my client in the future. I was nieve in thinking a was doing a favor and being a good person by doing so.
    Realizing that alone was worth the price of admission.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Advice needed

    No good deed goes unpunished.......


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    Default Re: Advice needed

    Also I should let you know the selling agent was extremely hostile and I was very polite even though basically being yelled at the whole time.
    Ah yes.., another agent unhappy because a deal may go south due to very minor issues which are easily repaired.

    Minor issues becoming major issues are poor management on the agents part. Act, don't react and keep issue in perspective Ms. Agent.


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    Default Re: Advice needed

    Charles, I don't want to sound harsh but in reading many of the comments and I have to agree you need to do the following.
    1) be more thorough
    2) have a bit more knowledge
    3) you work for the person who hired you and is paying the bill - That is the only person you explain things to
    4) Document , Document , Document - if your having trouble getting good picture I suggest a class in photography (no joke , it will help you look more professional by getting better pictures for the reports)

    In addition - low cost testers like what you use for electrical circuits it is wise to have a backup. I always have a cheap $ 10 meter with me - why - not because it is accurate but it will give me a quick indication if my meter is having an issue (also it is analog) but circuit testers do take a beating in the field , you drop them , they get dirt on their contacts (coffee , soda, bug spray) and if you are in doubt you can always check with a second device - (this can also add credibility and confirmation)

    As for the leak / puddle - if you could not identify where it came from (and it could have been a spill, you might even have caused it pulling the hose out to test it and spilled something and never knew it (not saying that you did - just giving a possible explanation).

    More than anything - Remember at all times you need to confirm anything and everything you write down. You are being paid to inspect and give a report on your findings and with that comes some legal liability so you really want to make sure and confirm what you write is what you find.

    Lastly - NEVER EVER Discuss your findings with a broker unless you have permission from the people who hired you - NEVER - your client paid for the report not the broker or agent.


  23. #23
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    Default Re: Advice needed

    Hay, you did report the conditions that existed at the time of the inspection; now its the sellers responsibility to correct the deficiencies according to the contract for sale. Never, never, never 2nd guess you inspection work. If the GFI didn't trip its defective and if there is water under the sink there is a leak!!!! Case closed!


  24. #24
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    Default Re: Advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles McCracken View Post
    Very good point Mike I totally agree. The picture with my digital camera was very hard to see the puddle because the the glossy hardwood underneath the sink. When I took the thermal imaging picture the puddle lit up like the 4th of July. I did make sure to explain the picture in the report so the client knew what they were looking at (they were there for the inspection as well and saw/felt the puddle of water).

    - - - Updated - - -



    John, This is the biggest learning experience I can say from my standpoint. I will never go back and try to explain my findings to anyone other than my client in the future. I was nieve in thinking a was doing a favor and being a good person by doing so. "The sellers agent was literally harassing me the whole time I was there".
    Why was the "Seller's" Agent, aka Listing Agent, at the inspection? Why wasn't the Buyer's Agent there representing their "Buyer" and "earning" that commission check? Don't put up with BS from anybody, especially someone on the "opposing team". You only have to answer to whoever signs the check.....


  25. #25
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    Default Re: Advice needed

    As for the puddle under the sink, as others have said get a picture. A good way to write it up would be "Moisture noted under cabinet in ____. Unable to locate source of moisture, recommend further review to correct as needed." If you absolutely cannot find a leak, you are still able to express what you observed.


  26. #26
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    Default Re: Advice needed

    Not to be too critical but seems to me that the lesson to be learned here is to hone your report writing skills. Obviously understanding the GFCI issue is in deed a need which can then be fully explained. The water issue is, to some extent, something else. It's not uncommon to find water under sinks etc. but...locating the source, if not obvious, is not that important to me. It's a matter of finding the right words to satisfy the customer's needs. If you identify an issue, such as that in your original post, rather than spending time to replicate the problem (assuming the source is not readily evident), it would be far more valuable to simply state, "Pool of water located under kitchen sink, unknown source, no active leak discovered." Maybe mop up the water and move on. If need be you can always go back later during the time you are there to see if a new puddle has emerged. The buyer may require the seller to fix whatever problem may exist but the burden to resolve the issue is back with seller. The source of the water might be easily explained or require the attention of someone with greater expertise and/or more time. After all there could be just as many 'innocent' explanations which would not necessarily raise the ire of the seller/and seller's agent (not that the latter should be of great concern). Sorry to go on a bit...


  27. #27
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    Default Re: Advice needed

    Charles, here's an effective technique you can use the next time you want to illustrate a puddle under a sink. Turn the flash off on your camera, and use your flashlight to illuminate the puddle from the side. It'll show up like a sore thumb, and give you an excellent photo.

    As to the source of the puddle, it may well have been a leak that the home owner corrected by simply tightening a coupling nut on the drain, then he or the agent may have just thrown that in to try to further damage the credibility of the inspector.

    Generally, you can tell by the feel of the reset button whether or not there is power to the GFCI. If you're not getting a little push back from the reset button, then look for the upstream unit that tripped instead - or in addition to. I had a home owner renovated kitchen a couple of years back where I tripped five different GFCI's around the large counter area just by pushing the test button on my outlet tester in one of them.

    To learn the difference in the feel of powered vs un-powered GFCI reset buttons, test a GFCI at your house like you normally would, then trip it again, but now switch off the breaker to that circuit before trying to reset the GFCI again. That will simulate a tripped upstream GFCI, and I'm pretty sure you'll be able to tell the difference. But like someone else indicated, this may only be true on the newer units.

    Last edited by Michael Chambers; 08-05-2013 at 11:21 PM.

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Advice needed

    I think a lot of good points were made in the replies. But, I did not see a couple of things. First, if the GFCI outlet is ungrounded, you will not be able to trip it with a tester. Although a GFCI will work on ungrounded outlets, the testers usually need the ground to work.

    As far as the wet spot under the sink, a leak could easily be fixed between the first and second visit. For double sinks, I have found a coupling between the two sinks to be loose in more than a few inspections. Feel along the pipe with your fingers to see if you can find the leak.

    As far as trying to photograph the water on the cabinet floor, you might be able to lay a paper towel down on the spot and photograph the wet spot on the towel. If you need backup proof, some cameras go from still images to video with the press of a button. They can be very useful.

    Matt Klein, P.E.
    Criterium-Cincinnati Engineers
    Fairfield, OH

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Advice needed

    Just to re-iterate what others have said. GFCI's are not to be wired in series for the very reason you described: this practice can cause confusion. The normal practice is for downstream outlets (regular outlets that is) when fed from a upstream GFCI are considered GFCI protected. So in your example the second GFCI should be removed and replaced with a regular outlet, since it would inherit the protection of the upstream GFCI.

    In so far as the puddle under sink is concerned, if you see no active leak then just say in your
    report what you saw. You may say you could not determine if there was an active leak or not, because you could not find the source.

    Wording in your report is key here. In some ways you have to do a balancing act. Report what you see, but not make it bigger than it really is. When unsure, it maybe better to tell the client so, then get the answer (as you have now done) and report it accordingly. On the GFCI thing, I understands what has happened, but some may not particularly if the are new to Home Inspection. I only know this because I am also an electrician.

    Thanks,

    Mike Rodney
    Ontario, Canada

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Advice needed

    I wanted to drop back in before leaving for work this morning and thank all that have replied. Im reading every single reply and I must say all great advice!


  31. #31
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    Default Re: Advice needed

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles McCracken View Post
    I wanted to drop back in before leaving for work this morning and thank all that have replied. Im reading every single reply and I must say all great advice!
    Charles Thank you for bringing this up - OK so we beat you up . Look at all the great advise that was given here , it also is a good reminder how when we inspect we need to be extra careful and note that we do not always have the answer to the problem. We are not experts in every field it would almost be impossible to be that proficient. I like some of the photography suggestions - again another skill you need to have

    So we are inspectors , plumbers , electricians , builders , writers , photographers , sales people and lawyers all wrapped up into one - that's one big plate for anyone


  32. #32
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    Default Re: Advice needed

    Leaks can be a hard one to pin down. All you can do is report what you found at the time and then make a recommendation. Sounds like this home was being lived in and I'm guessing there was stuff stored under the sink. On one inspection I did, I found a puddle similar to what you found. I could not see an active leak or where it was coming from till I bumped a can of "Comet" while using my inspection mirror to look at faucet hook-ups. There was a connection at one of the supply lines that leaked only when the Can of "Comet" was pushing against it...And the only time this was happening (normally) was when the DW was draining, the drain line was hitting the can of "Comet". That one was a fun one to write up! I'm sure the Agent would be happy with me "recommending the can of comet being removed" rather than "recommending a qualified person/plumber fix the leak". I very well could have found myself in your situation with "this leak" if not for the chance of touching the "Comet" can how I did. Sounds like the Agent is an Ass.


  33. #33
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    Default Re: Advice needed

    Here is a stain I found under the bathroom vanity. Moisture meter read 25+%. Areas around stain dry.

    No other leaks in area.

    I attributed it to mineral oil or some other product, such as liquid soap.

    Fwiw

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  34. #34
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    Default Re: Advice needed

    A little trick I learned long ago was to carry a roll of paper towel in the van. When I see a leak under the sink and cannot get a good pic, I just whip out a sheet of paper towel and lay it on the floor of the cabinet over the leak. BAM, the wet area is very easy to photograph at this point. I also fill the sink tubs and let it all go at once. If it is going to leak it will when all that water is released at the same time. Just my $.02.


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