Seacliff Water Damage Job

We were recently engaged by a client in the suburb of Seacliff along Adelaide’s coastline to investigate water coming up through there tiled hallway floor.  The client had been in contact with their home insurance provider and they had suggested getting in contact with a local builder who specialises in insurance work, enter Mayfair Building Group.

Upon arrival to the site it was noted that the property was a two-storey building which shared a common party wall with the house next door and both properties were located very close to the beach (literally on the beach).  The construction of the building was solid brick with render coating on the external and painted.  Upon entering the ground floor, the owner showed us where the water was entering the building.

The water was entering in the hallway via the skirting boards and architraves and displaying on the floor tiles (as seen in image).  After closer investigation we could see that the architraves, skirtings and some parts of the ceiling cornices were showing signs of swelling a clear sign that what ever was occurring had been happening for a while.

In a situation such as this where a ceiling or a wall will typically absorb the moisture until it gets to a saturation point and then starts to show more obviously like what was now going on in this hallway by expelling the water onto the floor tiles.

water coming up from floor

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It was very clear there was an issue with the potable mains water supply.  Firstly, we had not seen any rain for at least one week and for the issue to be showing consistently now it means it’s not a broken waste pipe as this would only show up intermittently when someone used a fixture in the home (take for example a broken toilet pipe, it would only show a sign of a problem such as a cracked pipe when the toilet was flushed so not all the time).

We had already arranged for one of our licensed plumbers to attend the site with our leak locating equipment and proceeded to get the leak investigation process under way.

Identifying The Water Leak

In order to start narrowing down the problem area the plumbing pipes which delivery hot and cold water to the home need to be pressurised with a pressure tested.  A pressure test will show us that if an affected pipe is damaged because the pressure will drop on the gage and allow us to get closer to the source of the problem.  Leak investigations take careful and methodical steps to have an educated approach where the problem is occurring, not to be rushed.

Some companies without the skill, equipment and knowledge will just rush in and start pulling walls apart and ceilings down without proper investigations.  Our experience has shown us that water leaks can show up in a location far away from the source not allows directly where the water is currently displaying.

After carefully isolating all appliances and turning off the Rinnai Infinity Enviro continuous flow 26L hot water service we pressurised the cold water main first to approximately 1000kpa and then proceeded to also do this to the hot water pipes.  Once the tests both stabilised, they were monitored for 10 minutes each.  There was no pressure drop recorded on either one of the pipes, a very interesting result!

If the water was not escaping from our customers water supply lines, then where could this excessive amount of water be coming from?

Now that the obvious things have been checked this is where 20 plus years of experience working on insurance jobs across Adelaide helps.  At the start of this case study you will remember me describing the physical setup of these two properties.  The key piece of information being they both shared a party wall down the middle which separates both buildings safely in the case of a fire and helps eliminate transfer of noise from one tenancy to the other!

We approached the owner of the building next door about performing some moisture readings in there building.  Immediately upon placing the moisture reader on their walls the readings were significantly higher, quite alarming.  We then asked for permission to pressure test their shower breacher.  The shower breaching piece is a fixture installed in the wall which allows for mixing of hot and cold water and transfers it to the shower rose.  The breaching piece is not always under pressure only when the shower is in use.  Overtime these items are known to where out and crack.

Once the shower breacher was pressurised it would immediately loose pressure.  The reason we did not perform this task in our customers home is that her bathroom had recently been renovated and all pipe work renewed.  If a showers breaching piece is in good condition it will hold pressure, but this was not the case, in fact this breacher was losing pressure instantly implying a rather large crack or break.

In summary the problem in this case was occurring in the next-door neighbour’s home.  Due to the fact they share a common party wall (brick and mortar construction) it has allowed the water to transfer into the neighbour’s home and display here first.  There would be no doubt that the property with the faulty pipes would also have some water damage, but it is not showing on that side just yet (not that we could identify it in our short visit).

The process moving forward will now be to have the tiles removed from the shower wall and the plumbing pipes/taps removed and renewed.  Fortunately, the property with the faulty pipes have two bathrooms (ground floor and first floor) so while this rectification work is being undertaken, they will still be able to maintain functionality while our team of plumbers and tilers fix this problem.  There will also need to be some work performed by one of our second fix carpenters and painters in the property where the damage has occurred, new architraves and skirtings supplied and installed and then painted.