Ethics and Customer Relations Question

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by jimmi paul, Jun 27, 2013.

  1. jimmi paul

    jimmi paul New Member

    Jun 27, 2013
    Mansfield, PA
    Firstly, I apologize if there is a better forum for this; I'm new!

    I run a small residential repair business in a college town, so I work on a lot of rentals. I had a call recently and wonder if I handled it the right way. Not being able to diagnose a problem isn't usually the case, so this was a little different for me.

    Customer says water coming through kitchen ceiling from bathroom above. The immediate problem I see is the toilet, which was rocking back and forth like crazy. The leak in the kitchen was close to directly below but not exactly. I replace the toilet and everything seems fine for a week or so. She calls again and now there's a leak a little to the left of the previous one, more in between the sink and the tub.

    I asked the guys who rent from her if they overflowed the sink of had the shower curtain outside the tub - they said no. I explained to the owner that I could see where there was a potential leak (there was a lot of plaster patching behind the pedestal sink so I thought that might be culprit (inside the wall, as is wasn't fastened properly), but I told her I couldn't be sure.

    So yesterday and today, I tear up linoleum, subfloor, plywood, and find... nothing. All the pipes seemed dry and I tested everything by eye. So I felt bad charging her for doing all this work (the bill was $300) and all I really did was take everything apart, put it back together, and come to the conclusion that the guys showered improperly and the water leaked down through the seam between the tub and the flooring.

    I honestly felt bad charging her, and almost wanted to find a leak...ha Now, I'll spend a few nights wondering if I missed something - though I don't know how I could have.

    Any thoughts on my ramblings? Thanks :)
  2. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Aug 17, 2004
    Bothell, Washington
    There is never a guarantee that the leak will be found.

    I went out to one job like that, and asked if anyone showered with the slider door open.

    "Oh no, my husband doesn't do that."


    Finally after checking everything else, I cut drywall downstairs.

    A year later I went back to install a new toilet. I asked about the shower, seeing the drywall was all repaired and painted.

    "Oh yes, we figured my husband was showering with the slider open. He closes it now."

    Don't feel too bad. You weren't the one getting things wet.
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  4. jimmi paul

    jimmi paul New Member

    Jun 27, 2013
    Mansfield, PA

    Thanks for the tips and moral support :)
  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Aug 31, 2004
    Cave Creek, Arizona

    $300.00? It costs almost that much to start the truck and drive to the job. (A little hyperbole there, but you get the idea.) I would NEVER start to tear things apart until I know EXACTLY where the problem was, since it often just a bad gasket behind the overflow opening that leaks when shower water splashes on it.
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