not sure if I need a plumber or a lawyer

2,543 Views | 30 Replies | Last: 5 days ago by denied
theNetSmith
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
I have owned a two-story, 2-bedroom townhome in CS since 2017, and I lived in it until June of 2020. During that entire time, I think I had someone use the guest bedroom/bathroom twice, and nobody has used the guest room since I moved out.

A few weeks ago, I noticed water damage on the dining room wall and in the area where the ceiling meets that wall, which is downstairs and directly below the guest bathroom.

The unit next door, on the other side of the damaged dining room wall, is also a 2-bedroom unit with a floor plan that mirrors mine, and it is the residence of 2 young adult males.

My suspicion is that the plumbing in my neighbor's guest room bathroom has a leak somewhere that is causing water to enter the cavity between our walls.

I thought I could have a plumber come out and possibly verify that the leak is not coming from my side, but I'm not sure if that is the right decision. I would hate to pay a high service call fee only to have a plumber tell me that they aren't exactly sure where the water is coming from.

And if I am able to determine that the leak is definitely coming from the neighbor's bathroom, what would the best course of action be? Leaving a note on their door politely asking them to send someone out to fix my wall and ceiling?

Sorry for the length of this post. Just hoping for some experience-based advice.
denied
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
Gateway Villas?
CS78
How long do you want to ignore this user?
So is it wet or old damage? If wet, call the plumber. If old, talk to neighbors and see if they've had a leak.
toolshed
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
You would likely see water damage down the wall before it traveled across the ceilings between the units. The drywall breaks at the wall on both sides, so water would run down the inside of the wall before it jumps across, assuming there's nothing spanning the gap. Path of least resistance.

I'm in residential and don't know commercial/ apartments/ townhome construction as well but each unit has its own piping, wiring, etc,, so I don't think water would follow a pipe or other object from one unit to the other. And I'd imagine firewalls of some sort would be in place the prevent water from traveling from one unit to the other.

Could be a leaking vent from the roof, either a hole in the lead flashing or something similar. Or roof flashing if you do have true firewalls between units. Squirrels and roof rats like to chew up lead flashing on plumbing vents. Water follows the pipe down the wall until it turns laterally.

Could be a host of issues, I don't think the neighbor would be the first choice. But I've been known to be wrong before. Ask my wife and kids.

Oogway
How long do you want to ignore this user?
You mentioned moving out in June of 2020; did you happen to check on the townhome after the freeze this past February? Maybe a leak connected to that? If the water damage is old, then perhaps it was repaired ( on the other side) or you have a leak related to that in some way. The freeze did do a fair amount of damage to plumbing in our area.
theNetSmith
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
Thanks for the replies.

Not Gateway Villas. Mine was built in 2016 and I am the original owner.

No firewall on this side. There is a firewall between mine and the next unit on the other side because that's the side with the kitchen.

It is difficult to see in this picture, but there is a faint horizontal line above the hutch to the right of the piano. The damage to the ceiling is not really discernable here. This is the only shot I have of it on my phone. I will try to take and post a better picture tomorrow.
theNetSmith
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
I did check on it after the freeze and everything seemed okay at the time.
theNetSmith
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
not sure what the brown spot in the middle is.. has to be something that soaked thru to the surface of the drywall, no?

toolshed
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
I think you're going to have to bite the billet and have a plumber cut a hole in the ceiling where the spot starts. Or yourself with a sheet rock saw if you're capable. Beats waiting around while more damage is occurring.

Could be an AC primary, or emergency, drain line overflowing from the attic above. Is there an ac drain line under the sink in that Bathroom? Or ac drain into a pipe above the bathroom in the attic space? Depending on how they built, I've seen primary drains piped into an open pvc pipe above the wall plate. In the attic, though that's not up to current codes. Algae grows in the pipe, causes a backup and water overflows the pipe and down the wall. It could be following that pipe across and down the wall you see the horizontal stain downstairs. The horizontal stain is likely water in a sheetrock joint, following the joint right to left.

I've also seen ac guys not glue pipe joints on their drains properly and they leak.

That would be my next places to look. Start with the attic though vs cutting a hole in the ceiling.



Belton Ag
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
Quote:

No firewall on this side. There is a firewall between mine and the next unit on the other side because that's the side with the kitchen.
I didn't build your townhome so I don't know for sure, but if the wall in question is the demising wall between your unit and the neighbor's (sounds like it based on the description) then there should be a 2 hour firewall separating the two, by code. If built in 2016 in College Station then I'd bet money on it.

Anything is possible when it comes to water, so you never know. If you're positive it's coming from the neighbor's unit and you can't get cooperation can you ask the HOA to help? That's partly why they exist.
Esteban du Plantier
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
theNetSmith said:

not sure what the brown spot in the middle is.. has to be something that soaked thru to the surface of the drywall, no?




I have no idea what I'm talking about,but that looks like a union between two sheets of drywall and the head of a nail that has rusted.

Are you certain there was no water damage from the freeze? I had an ice dam on the roof that lead to water running down a wall that made almost that exact same pattern.
theNetSmith
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
toolshed said:

I think you're going to have to bite the billet and have a plumber cut a hole in the ceiling where the spot starts. Or yourself with a sheet rock saw if you're capable. Beats waiting around while more damage is occurring.
that's definitely not something I want to try to get into myself. as far as going into the wall/ceiling to determine the cause, there is a timing issue that I will go into shortly below.

Quote:

Could be an AC primary, or emergency, drain line overflowing from the attic above. Is there an ac drain line under the sink in that Bathroom? Or ac drain into a pipe above the bathroom in the attic space?
very unlikely that it's related to a/c drain as the unit in the attic is located further towards the back of the townhome, above 1st floor garage and 2nd floor master, and drains/drips from the outside wall above the garage.

happyinBCS
How long do you want to ignore this user?
should not have a drip at all because I think code is they have to drain into the sewer that could be the overflow from the pan
theNetSmith
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
Belton Ag said:

Quote:

No firewall on this side. There is a firewall between mine and the next unit on the other side because that's the side with the kitchen.
I didn't build your townhome so I don't know for sure, but if the wall in question is the demising wall between your unit and the neighbor's (sounds like it based on the description) then there should be a 2 hour firewall separating the two, by code. If built in 2016 in College Station then I'd bet money on it.
I had to google "demising wall" b/c I've never heard that term before. I stated that the only firewall is between my unit and the one on the other side (my townhome is sandwiched between two others) b/c that's what I was told by the project manager during my walk-through.

Had never heard of a 2 hour firewall before, either. Is it a 'lesser' type of firewall? Is it possible that there is a 2 hour firewall on the side with the water damage and a 'better' firewall on the other side?
theNetSmith
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG

Quote:

I have no idea what I'm talking about, but that looks like a union between two sheets of drywall and the head of a nail that has rusted.

I, too, have no idea what I'm talking about (as I have demonstrated above), but the rusted nail theory makes sense to me.

Quote:

Are you certain there was no water damage from the freeze? I had an ice dam on the roof that lead to water running down a wall that made almost that exact same pattern.

No, I am actually not certain that the freeze didn't cause this problem. I wasn't living in the townhome during the freeze, but I wrapped/insulated the exterior faucets and had the sinks dripping. This is the first sign of any possible plumbing problem.
theNetSmith
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
As for the timing issue I mentioned above, the townhome is currently listed on Airbnb and I will have guests next weekend (10/22-10/24), so I don't want to get into something that could take more than a couple of days to fix and then get repaired/cleaned up and presentable again.

I will try to find a plumber who can look at it today or early next week. If you know someone who is good, reliable and honest, I'd appreciate any recs.
theNetSmith
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
happyinBCS said:

should not have a drip at all because I think code is they have to drain into the sewer that could be the overflow from the pan
well, I have a fairly steady drip coming from the outside wall above the garage whenever the a/c is running.
Esteban du Plantier
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
Sounds like you need to check/clean the pan drain.
theNetSmith
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
I will go over there during lunch today and take a look in the attic. The attic access is actually through the ceiling of the bathroom that is above the water damage area, but again.. the a/c unit is probably a good 15-20' away from that bathroom. If the drip line were clogged and the drip pan overflowing, I would expect to see water damage on the ceiling of the master bedroom or bathroom and I haven't.

I will update this afternoon.
taxpreparer
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
theNetSmith said:

happyinBCS said:

should not have a drip at all because I think code is they have to drain into the sewer that could be the overflow from the pan
well, I have a fairly steady drip coming from the outside wall above the garage whenever the a/c is running.
That drip should be the secondary drain, or bypass, for when the primary drain is backed up.
***It's your money, not theIRS! (At least for a little while longer.)
theNetSmith
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
not what I wanted to hear!
Belton Ag
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
theNetSmith said:

Belton Ag said:

Quote:

No firewall on this side. There is a firewall between mine and the next unit on the other side because that's the side with the kitchen.
I didn't build your townhome so I don't know for sure, but if the wall in question is the demising wall between your unit and the neighbor's (sounds like it based on the description) then there should be a 2 hour firewall separating the two, by code. If built in 2016 in College Station then I'd bet money on it.
I had to google "demising wall" b/c I've never heard that term before. I stated that the only firewall is between my unit and the one on the other side (my townhome is sandwiched between two others) b/c that's what I was told by the project manager during my walk-through.

Had never heard of a 2 hour firewall before, either. Is it a 'lesser' type of firewall? Is it possible that there is a 2 hour firewall on the side with the water damage and a 'better' firewall on the other side?


There could be exceptions of course but I'd imagine you have the firewall on both sides. To my knowledge there won't be a "better" firewall but I guess it's possible they added a something in the kitchen area. Which is a good thing for you, right?

Typically firewalls in our area are constructed with two layers of 5/8 fire resistant gypsum on each outer side of the wall, then 2x4 or 2x6 wall framing beneath each double layer of gypsum with an air gap in the middle dividing the two. It's also not super common to run plumbing through a firewall because of the extra steps needed to secure the wall, but it might have to be done.

The construction of the wall is what gives me pause to think it's coming from the neighbor's unit, but like I said with water, anything is possible.

There's pretty good evidence you have an ac drain that's stopped up, I'd isolate and fix that issue and see if that clears it up somehow.
taxpreparer
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
theNetSmith said:

not what I wanted to hear!
but maybe what you needed to hear.
***It's your money, not theIRS! (At least for a little while longer.)
theNetSmith
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
taxpreparer said:

theNetSmith said:

not what I wanted to hear!
but maybe what you needed to hear.
touche, my friend
theNetSmith
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
Belton, thanks for sharing your wisdom and experience. Maybe you can tell from the pics linked below what type of firewall may be in place on that side of the townhome.

Thanks to everyone who has commented or offered suggestions so far! Y'all are great.

I stopped by the townhome during lunch and got up in the attic to look around. The drip pan beneath the a/c did have some amount of standing water in it, but not enough to think it was overflowing.

There is no evidence of water showing on the wall of the upstairs bathroom that is directly above the water damage. In addition, I could not see any sign of water above that bathroom in the attic in between the a/c unit and the bathroom.

I took a number of pics while there -- both in the attic and in the upstairs bathroom -- and they are shared in this Google Photos album. It also includes one pic of the drip line coming out of the wall above the garage.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/aQ58cNTJKc4FsXs59
toolshed
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
If the pan under the AC has water in it, you have a clogged primary line. The pan is the emergency drain, catches water when the primary drain is not functioning. The dripping you see outside is the emergency pan draining, there's a drain line in the sidewall of the pan that allows water to exit the pan.

Do you know which bathroom, or where the ac primary drain connects to your sewer? If the unit is that new, you should see a pipe under a lavatory, T'ed into the sink drain upstream of the P Trap. It would look similar to the attached picture.

Or, it can be plumbed into your washing machine drain box, you'll see a 3/4" PCs drain coming through the top and positioned over the drain hole in the bottom of the washer box.

If the ac drain is going to the back bathroom ( or laundry) as you say, then that's not likely the source of your stain, but water in the pan says you have an ac issue that needs to be checked.
Belton Ag
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
In The picture you took in the attic. You have Sheetrock up there in the attic where the seams have been taped and mudded, that's your firewall. It extends from the slab all the way up through the attic and to the decking. In the neighbor's attic, he'll have the same thing. You probably have flame ******ant decking over the firewall on the roof as well. That's all consistent with code when it comes to townhomes.
theNetSmith
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
thanks, toolshed.. username checks out!

I will check for the T under the upstairs sinks.. as well as anything additional draining into the washing machine box.
theNetSmith
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
so Belton, based on what you know about these firewalls and after seeing the pics I took in the attic and in the upstairs bathroom, is there any way that the water damage could have been caused by an issue on my side?

there is standing water in my drip pan, no doubt, but no wetness visible between there and the wall/bathroom.. so if I check under the sink in that upstairs bathroom and don't see any signs of leakage there...

hell, i don't know what to think.. other than one can't use the word ******ant on TexAgs.
Belton Ag
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
theNetSmith said:

so Belton, based on what you know about these firewalls and after seeing the pics I took in the attic and in the upstairs bathroom, is there any way that the water damage could have been caused by an issue on my side?

there is standing water in my drip pan, no doubt, but no wetness visible between there and the wall/bathroom.. so if I check under the sink in that upstairs bathroom and don't see any signs of leakage there...

hell, i don't know what to think.. other than one can't use the word ******ant on TexAgs.
What I think, based on how the walls are constructed, that it's more likely that the water is somehow coming from your side. It would be difficult for the water traverse it's way across the firewall.

But, as I said, it's water. Water has a way of getting in places you'd never think it could go.
denied
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
I sent you a PM.
Refresh
Page 1 of 1
 
×
subscribe Verify your student status
See Subscription Benefits
Trial only available to users who have never subscribed or participated in a previous trial.