One of our more challenging jobs this week was for an existing client of ours who lives in Norwood, SA 5067 just behind the Britannia hotel near the infamous Dequetteville terrace round about in Kent Town. They had come home from a day out to find water dripping through there light fittings in the kitchen, they had isolated the water and electricity to the home to make it safe before our arrival onsite.
Upon our arrival we had a quick debrief with the customer about the layout of the home given it is 2 storeys in construction and only 14 years old. They had not reported of any prior problems and there was nothing to note that could have recently contributed to this new plumbing problem, very bizarre! We went upstairs directly above where the problem seemed to be coming from below, this is where the main bathroom is situated. After a few measurements the leak was pin pointed towards the side of the bathroom where the bath and toilet are situated. The bath is mounted in a hob with a mixer tap mounted inside of it. My first thoughts where that perhaps the connectors which join the tapware to the Rehau pipe work had started to perish and this was weeping through into the ceiling below? Fortunately, the wall hung toilet had an in wall cistern and there was a small service duct behind the bathroom for the Caroma invisi inwall cistern and the return air duct for the heating and cooling system.
Our approach when investigating any type of water or gas leak is always using the least invasive steps first before delving into the deep end. With access into the bath hob via the service duct it was easy to establish if this the location where the problem was coming from. We accurately marked out the location where the mixer tap was located on the other side of the wall and then cut a hole to get a visual on what was occurring under the bath. We could see a far way into the bath cavity, but to get an accurate view we used our Ridgid See Snake drain camera to have a good look at just what was going on under the bath. The entire bath tub space was bone dry and there was absolutely zero indication of a leak what so ever, so where was the problem coming from?
The next step was to open up the ceiling space in the kitchen as this was most likely an outcome that would be needed one day to repair the damage created by this ongoing water leak. Once the ceiling was opened there was a small amount of water inside but the initial thoughts of it being a mains pressure issue leaking out of the Rehau pipe work were quickly diminished. The water leak was consistent yet not showing the characteristics of that of a mains pressure water escape. The cavity between the two floors was quite crowded with plumbing, gas and sewer pipes running everywhere to service the bathroom above. After some extensive inspections of the ceiling cavity it seemed that somehow the water was dripping through from the toilet location above? But how??
As I previously mentioned early in this post the toilet upstairs in the main bathroom was a Caroma wall hung pan with an Invisi in wall cistern dual flush operated by round buttons via air hoses. Servicing these toilet cisterns is never an easy job and unless you know what you’re doing it really can be a tricky spot to find yourself in. To start with we removed the access panels behind the cistern which exposed the rear of the toilet pans connections, low and behold there it was a consistent drip coming out of the toilets flush pipe where it joins onto the pan, but how was this occurring? Inside of the toilet pan there was a very very minute weep escaping into the toilet itself via the cistern due to the fact that the cistern out let rubber was failing ever so slightly, almost impossible to spot, this would be because majority of the water leaving the cistern was going into the ceiling space below. The key seal rubber in the back of the pan was failing.
First job was to have the wall hung ceramic toilet pan removed, luckily this was one of the early models Caroma made and so it was not silicone sealed to the wall just held on by two 12mm bolts and foam gasket so removal was relatively easy compared to some jobs (if you’re a plumber reading this you’ll know exactly what I mean). The toilet pan came off very easy (as you can see in the image below), the key seal rubber was never installed in a true tradesman like manner to start with you could see it had been forced into its location and the flush pipe was cut on a bad angle and no one had ever bothered to file it after cutting it so it had lots of rough and sharp edges never a great start to achieving a water tight connection with any plumbing fitting.
While we had the toilet pan off we suggested to the owner that the tiered looking pan collar rubber be replaced and also the other components inside of the cistern be replaced while we had it all exposed, they agreed. The parts for this project where sourced from Tradelink Norwood on Charles Street, number 70.
The flush pipe was straitened up with a pvc saw (and checked for length, ok) it was then filed smooth, the new key seal and pan collar rubbers where installed and a small amount of lube placed onto the rubbers to help preserve them and also allow ease of installation. It was then time to place the pan back on the wall, everything went smoothly! It was then onto the reconditioning of the toilet cisterns internals, what a challenge! Due to the nature of these cisterns you are basically plumbing blind and purely relying upon experience and feel, very tricky and a full supply of patience is required. All of these parts are made from plastic and as we all know plastic gets brittle over time so due caution should be taken not to force something the wrong way and cause another problem. After a very long 20 minutes the inlet valve and outlet valves had been removed and re installed (including flush buttons) and the cistern was working again, a fantastic result to a long afternoon.
While starting to pack up we always perform a thorough amount of testing by flushing the toilet and letting it fill up and discharge to check everything is working correctly and that the leak was also fixed. If your experiencing a water leak that might need our services, please get in contact today on 0429 361 819 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Aaron Stewart owns and works in the business of Mayfair Plumbing & Gas Fitting from there offices now based in Adelaide, South Australia. Aaron and his team of licensed plumbers and design consultants are passionate about there work. In this blog they will bring you plumbing and gas tips gathered from around the globe over 20 plus years of experiences in the many different fields of plumbing. If you are looking for a plumbing firm who can do everything from design, construct, project management and scheduled on site maintenance contact the Mayfair Plumbing Group.