One evening in late December, I came home from fieldwork and before going to bed I noticed that our bathroom floor had a ‘water pattern to it’, but was dry to the touch (see image below).
I found a small (clean water) leak behind the toilet, seeping slowly into the floor grouting, being absorbed by the permeable surfaces under the glazed tile surface. In the kitchen you could hear water dropping every second and a faint mark on the plasterboard had appeared. I knew we had to somehow locate the leak quickly, as wherever it came from, the water was leaking out into the timber ceiling void below. Our kitchen has recessed lights so I switched the electrical lighting circuit off as a pre-caution.
I then armed myself with a torch and climbed up on the scaffolding; to see if the installation of the Green Deal external wall insulation pierced through any services. But I realised that this seemed unlikely: the GD team had shown me the thermally broken plastic fixings (2 per insulation ‘ slab’) – and while they were long enough to fix back through to the brick wall behind, they are not so long to go through the brick and then puncture services behind.
We realised that we could temporarily stop the leak by turning the mains water supply off and flushing the toilet to empty the cistern. At this point we could not access the cistern (we bought the house with the cistern built in and no means of getting to it) so decided to go to bed at this stage, but only after leaving urgent messages with our Green Deal installer. They arrived first thing in the morning and spent a full morning dismantling the WC and fixing the leak. Soon it became clear what had caused the leak:
Had the WC been properly installed, there would never have been a leak. We offered our Green Deal installer to pay for their time to remediate the leak; clearly this was not their fault or responsibility, but they kindly declined.
So kudos to our GD installer, but this story highlights the wider unforeseen problems and uncertainties that may happen when working in existing buildings and GD installers having to deal with and navigate around dodgy building work; not knowing what might happen next.
(and no, we did not keep the T-shirt!)
This is Sofie's blog; or rather a collection of musings & articles sometimes also published elsewhere. More about Sofie here.