Featuring America's Home Inspector: Nationally Syndicated Columnist, Barry Stone

The House Detective by Barry Stone, Certified Home Inspector

Dear Barry: We purchased a new home, and just before the 10 yr warranty was up, a leak developed in the upstairs bathtub drain. The homebuilder came out, opened up the ceiling below the tub, repaired the leaking pipe, patched the ceiling, and all was well for about two years. Now the leaking has returned and, once again, there is a wet stain on the ceiling. Since the 10-year warranty has now expired, are we on our own with this problem, or is the builder still responsible? Brian

Dear Brian: At this point, the builder may be willing to make the repair as a matter of good will, but he may no longer be obligated to do so unless it can be shown that the repair he did two years ago was done incorrectly or that the new leak is the result of an original construction defect. To answer these questions, an observation hole should be cut into the ceiling to see exactly where the leak is occurring. The plumbing repair itself may not be expensive, but that will need to be determined by a licensed plumber. Regardless of who pays for the repair work, an openable access hatch should be installed below the bathtub plumbing so that future repairs in that location will not involve ceiling repairs as well.