Real Estate Rehabbers Update

Years ago I finished a complete rehab on a kitchen and was admiring my handy work. The rehab included new plumbing, cabinets, electric, granite countertops and the removal of a half wall to open the kitchen to the dining room which greatly enlarged the floor plan and added additional cabinets.

As I stood looking and congratulating myself, I suddenly noticed some water on the floor at the right side of the kitchen. This was where the sink was located so I naturally assumed I hadn’t properly tightened one of the water lines. Often the connection to the dishwasher can be an issue because the line can be jarred as the dishwasher is pushed back into the cabinet area.

I checked what the source of the water was but it seemed to come from the corner of the kitchen cabinets. The flow rate was high enough I had to shut off the main water to stop from getting a damaging amount of water in the kitchen. I very thoroughly checked all the water feed line connections and re-tightened each one. When I turned the water back on the leak started again.

After much deliberation and turning the water off and on several times I decided there was a leak in the wall. After all, the house was built in the early 1950’s with copper supply lines and it’s not uncommon for leaks to develop. Normally we would have removed the cabinets and looked closer for the leaks but in this case the granite countertops had been installed.

The option for finding the leak now was to break into the external side of the kitchen wall which was also an exterior wall of the house. With great hesitation we started knocking holes in the wall to see if we could find any wet areas to locate the leak. Within an hour about 6 – 8 feet of the wall was pot-marked with large holes and looked like it had been in a war. But no leak was visible what-so-ever.

As I sat looking at the damage and wondering what secret place was steadily leaking water, Nancy asked me if I had checked the refrigerator water line. I was covered in cement dust, very sweaty and not very open minded to such a simple solution. I answered that I had checked it but frankly, I didn’t remember doing it.

Out of respect for Nan’s question but knowing it couldn’t be the supply line to the refrigerator I went to the opposite side of the kitchen where the refrigerator was located. I got on the floor and carefully checked the connection for water. Oops, the connection was damp and that was where the leak originated. It was a very simple 30 second fix but the replacement of the exterior wall took a complete day.

What had happened was the supply line for the ice maker was about two inches above the floor and the copper supply line ran at a very slight downward angle all the way around to the other side of the kitchen where the sink was located. When the water came out the leaking supply line joint it didn’t drop on the floor but ran down the supply line all the way around the back of the cabinets to the other side of the kitchen and then out under the cabinets.

One of my real estate mentor students called me yesterday saying that the mysterious leak a seller had complained about having for years was finally determined to be a water supply line to the icemaker. The seller wouldn’t hire a plumber and lived with a water bill five times his neighbor’s average bill. The real damage was in the resulting mildew and mold which finally drove the property owner to abandon the property and sell way below market value to our Student. The Student hired a plumber who still had trouble finding the actual leak at the ice maker supply line but only charged $500 to fix the issue including his ½ day at the property.

In summary for all of you real estate rehabbers out there, watch out for those ice maker supply lines both at the incoming connection at the refrigerator and at the source connection which may not be at the kitchen sink. I guess the other more important take-away from this is to be open minded when my wife makes a suggestion – it could have saved the damage to the exterior wall and a lot of time. Who knew?

To your limitless success,
Dave Dinkel
Real Estate Mentor Program Founder

PS – When a woman is right, she may never let you forget it so check out her suggestions even if you know they won’t work, you might be pleasantly surprised.

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