Urgent work needs doing but can't get plumber

plumbing, drainage and waste water questions here please

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l00ey
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Urgent work needs doing but can't get plumber

Post by l00ey »

Hi

I have leaks in my leasehold privately owned flat. Despite the building owner giving me permission to get a plumber to look at leaks in my bathroom and pipes, I cannot get one, phoned all afternoon, and the one who came today fobbed me off, despite there blatantly being leaks. I made some checks to confirm there were leaks, details below. Its a top floor flat and I am worried that I will not be able to get these urgent works done, and neighbour below will suffer leaks into their flat.

Here's the details, tried to be as detailed and brief as possible.

Leaks in toilet and possibly toilet feed-pipe
Intermittent sewer smell coming from store cupboard, with bathroom door closed
Stopcock leaks when opened despite nut being tightened.

Toilet
Toilet is 42 years old, cracked at base, with hairline cracks on both sides of bowl.
12months ago, pink limescale formed in bowl, water level seemed to go down a little and yellow limescale formed above water level.
Concerned about a leak I lifted the lino around base of toilet and assumed stickiness was glue from lino being stuck to concrete floor. The concrete floor is only 135mm thick, or 1.35cms.
Recently water level gone down an inch or two a few times.
I only thought to check floor near dis-used shower for comparison on 27th May 2020 and it was much drier near shower, indicating leak coming from base of toilet.
On 27th May 2020 I also pulled lino right back, exposing half the concrete floor, it was wet and sticky the whole length of the floor.
AS it was sunny, I lifted lino back as far as I could for a few hours, and the stickiness reduced, where the exposed floor was, however, the floor under the lino remained wet and sticky indicating another leak from another area, possibly feed pipe. The feed pipe was installed by old owner who was a cowboy builder, may be corroded. He breached the lease by making unauthorised alterations.
I know the floor is not on a slope and toilet leak not causing the leak all along the length of the floor, as I poured water on the lino, waited, and it did not move down towards the door.
Sewer smell
There has been a strong sewer smell coming from the store cupboard which permeates the hall, despite the bathroom door being closed, no sewer smell there.
This suggests a leak in another area such as the building owners crawls space where the old owner altered a lot of pipes.

Leaky Stopcock

Despite the nut being tightened when I turn the stopcock on it leaks.
The flat is private but leasehold, and Greensquare instructed me to turn off stopcock till I can get leaks fixed but I have had to keep turning it off and on as I need water, and it leaks when turned on.
I feel as if no one wants the work, yet I need it done, sewer gas is dangerous, and I could end up paying for damage to flat below as insurance won't pay for negligence, given that I only thought to compare different areas of bathroom for wetness after a year.

How am I going to get someone to do this urgent work, can't keep living like this, leaky toilets are urgent, so are leaky pipes.
Thanks
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chrrris
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Urgent work needs doing but can't get plumber

Post by chrrris »

Whereabouts are you? Almost every trade I know has been working (and some have been desperate for work) ever since this lockdown started. Most trades moaning about how quiet it is at the moment because nobody wants people they don't know in their house! Ask mates or neighbours for recommendations for local plumbers they know. You should have people chomping at the bit at the moment.
Haste is the enemy of quality.
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Urgent work needs doing but can't get plumber

Post by Rorschach »

I find it strange you are not able to find one, keep trying!

Also why are you asking permission from the leaseholder? If you have bought the lease you very rarely need permission for anything aside from major structural changes.
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Urgent work needs doing but can't get plumber

Post by camallison »

We had a problem with our boiler 3 weeks ago and the chap who services it for me each year came out with distancing measures specified by him. He is 64 and has long term health problems but wore a mask and gloves, wiping down everything he had touched afterwards with dettol wipes. No charge! He will be back in October for our annual check. Charge for that is £60 plus any parts if needed. It has been the same for the past 9 years and only 3 parts needed changing in that time for a total of £48.
Colin
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l00ey (Sun Jun 14, 2020 8:09 pm)
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Bob225
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Urgent work needs doing but can't get plumber

Post by Bob225 »

The pan on the toilet has gone porous replace it asap

what way does the waste run, into the hallway ? any leak will run and wick up any timbers or run down the pipework

stopcock it either needs to be turned off in the street or riser cupboard, if not it can be frozen and changed as long as it on an incoming lead pipe if that is the case it turns into a mare of a job


It may help if you say where you are located
l00ey
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Urgent work needs doing but can't get plumber

Post by l00ey »

chrrris wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 11:42 pm
Whereabouts are you? Almost every trade I know has been working (and some have been desperate for work) ever since this lockdown started. Most trades moaning about how quiet it is at the moment because nobody wants people they don't know in their house! Ask mates or neighbours for recommendations for local plumbers they know. You should have people chomping at the bit at the moment.
Sorry for late reply, I am in SW England. I have since had over half a dozen plumbers round, some good ones, recommended etc, but I think they are put off because the job looks like too much hassle as the old owner messed about with pipes, they never told me they couldn't do anything while visiting me, but they just didn't send quotes as promised and when I chased them up, they didn't't respond.
My paranoia is saying to me, no one is going to replace your broken leaky loo or leaky radiator because what your old owner did is gong to make the job too much hassle, so I am worried I am going to be stuck with leaks.
I've contacted every plumber/heating engineer in my local area more or less, including checkatrade and my builder, got some more coming but they might say the same, or worse still, be cowboys.
Even the ones I got through recommendations have gone cold on me, they come, look at job, say they will quote then don't respond or ignore chase up messages.
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Urgent work needs doing but can't get plumber

Post by l00ey »

Rorschach wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 6:44 am
I find it strange you are not able to find one, keep trying!

Also why are you asking permission from the leaseholder? If you have bought the lease you very rarely need permission for anything aside from major structural changes.
I've spent over a week trying, Ive made a huge list of plumbers/engineers those who come I think are put off by the bodge work the old owner did, a forum post I read by a plumber said that some don't want the work if its too much hassle, scared stiff I will be stuck with leaky loo and rad as I own top floor flat on leasehold and the freeholders are saying I will be held liable for any water damage.
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Urgent work needs doing but can't get plumber

Post by l00ey »

Bob225 wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 12:26 pm
The pan on the toilet has gone porous replace it asap
I'm trying, plumbers come, promise a quote, then ignore me when I chase it up, tried all week, many busy, some not working cos of covid.
what way does the waste run, into the hallway ? any leak will run and wick up any timbers or run down the pipework
Waste pipe is horizontal cos of top floor flat.
stopcock it either needs to be turned off in the street or riser cupboard, if not it can be frozen and changed as long as it on an incoming lead pipe if that is the case it turns into a mare of a job
Can't turn off stopcock, I need to use loo and I need to drink. I'll die of dehydration, got no one's loo I can use, got bladder issues, covid cancelled bladder scan. Meanwhile leak ongoing, got leak detection company coming Tuesday, scared they will find leak but no plumber to fix it. One plumber said not to keep turning stopcock on and off as it will damage it.
It may help if you say where you are located
Wiltshire
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chrrris
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Urgent work needs doing but can't get plumber

Post by chrrris »

l00ey wrote:
Thu Jun 04, 2020 7:22 pm
Sorry for late reply, I am in SW England. I have since had over half a dozen plumbers round, some good ones, recommended etc, but I think they are put off because the job looks like too much hassle as the old owner messed about with pipes, they never told me they couldn't do anything while visiting me, but they just didn't send quotes as promised and when I chased them up, they didn't respond.
I do sympathise.. It definitely does sound like something is putting people off. I must admit I've been out to jobs where you just think "Nah... this is a whole can of worms and I don't really want to be the one to open it up" but now is a good time because a lot of trades have been so quiet with the lockdown. Don't know what your approach has been with the guys you've had in so far, but I would say if you're up-front and tell them you appreciate what's there may be a bit of a mess, and maybe offer to pay an hourly rate for their time, plus materials, instead of a fixed price (obviously this needs a certain degree of trust that they're not going to swing the lead, but I'll think you'll find that most trades are fundamentally honest despite the impression you might get from Watchdog and the like). And also maybe split it into lots of small jobs and deal with them one at a time. If you hit someone with a load of dodgy, ancient, plumbing and say "how much to sort this lot out?" they're more likely to run a mile than if you say "Right can you come in and replace the leaky stopcock as one job first, and once that's sorted, look at replacing the toilet, then investigating the sewer smell..."

Also, if you have bladder problems and only one loo in the house, it might be worth offering to vacate the house for the duration of the work - stay with a friend or in a hotel. Changing a loo might take a full day, but if there are additional unforeseen issues to contend with, maybe longer than that. If I had someone telling me they needed a working loo for medical reasons at the end of the day (even assuming you could use a neighbours toilet during the day), and there where a whole load of unknowns due to either ancient, or substandard, existing plumbing then I'd probably be reluctant to get involved too.

The other thing that's just sprung to mind is that you mentioned the existing loo is 42 years old. If your house has a load of old, lead, pipework in then you'll struggle to find anyone who'll want to do anything with it other than rip all of the existing plumbing out right back to the stopcock and replace it all with copper or plastic. Obviously, that's a big, disruptive, job and one that you'll definitely need to vacate the house for for days/weeks.
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l00ey (Sat Jun 06, 2020 2:52 pm)
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l00ey
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Urgent work needs doing but can't get plumber

Post by l00ey »

chrrris wrote:
Thu Jun 04, 2020 11:23 pm
l00ey wrote:
Thu Jun 04, 2020 7:22 pm
Sorry for late reply, I am in SW England. I have since had over half a dozen plumbers round, some good ones, recommended etc, but I think they are put off because the job looks like too much hassle as the old owner messed about with pipes, they never told me they couldn't do anything while visiting me, but they just didn't send quotes as promised and when I chased them up, they didn't respond.
I do sympathise.. It definitely does sound like something is putting people off. I must admit I've been out to jobs where you just think "Nah... this is a whole can of worms and I don't really want to be the one to open it up" but now is a good time because a lot of trades have been so quiet with the lockdown. Don't know what your approach has been with the guys you've had in so far, but I would say if you're up-front and tell them you appreciate what's there may be a bit of a mess, and maybe offer to pay an hourly rate for their time, plus materials, instead of a fixed price (obviously this needs a certain degree of trust that they're not going to swing the lead, but I'll think you'll find that most trades are fundamentally honest despite the impression you might get from Watchdog and the like). And also maybe split it into lots of small jobs and deal with them one at a time. If you hit someone with a load of dodgy, ancient, plumbing and say "how much to sort this lot out?" they're more likely to run a mile than if you say "Right can you come in and replace the leaky stopcock as one job first, and once that's sorted, look at replacing the toilet, then investigating the sewer smell..."

Also, if you have bladder problems and only one loo in the house, it might be worth offering to vacate the house for the duration of the work - stay with a friend or in a hotel. Changing a loo might take a full day, but if there are additional unforeseen issues to contend with, maybe longer than that. If I had someone telling me they needed a working loo for medical reasons at the end of the day (even assuming you could use a neighbours toilet during the day), and there where a whole load of unknowns due to either ancient, or substandard, existing plumbing then I'd probably be reluctant to get involved too.

The other thing that's just sprung to mind is that you mentioned the existing loo is 42 years old. If your house has a load of old, lead, pipework in then you'll struggle to find anyone who'll want to do anything with it other than rip all of the existing plumbing out right back to the stopcock and replace it all with copper or plastic. Obviously, that's a big, disruptive, job and one that you'll definitely need to vacate the house for for days/weeks.
Hi

Thanks for your reply. There is one good thing, a known good plumber who visited, promised quote, but didn't respond, to my follow up Facebook messages and voicemail messages when he failed to quote, well, after I thought he had been put off, he texted me and said he was sorry for the delay, and would send me quote ASAP, do you think he was just fobbing me off?
If not fobbing me off, I hope he quotes, but if he is fobbing me off, why bother to text to say he was delayed?
I'm definitely worried now. What do you mean about can of worms? That would be more work and more money for plumber.
Thankfully I don't have lead pipes.

I'm worried because I may be stuck with leaky loo and leaky radiator.

I have nobody I can stay with.
At first my approach was that it was a bit of a mess, unknown source of leaks, but now I have a leak detection company coming on Tuesday, who detect but don't repair, I am now just saying to plumbers, I need a new loo and a new radiator.

Im Leasehold so I cannot be stuck with leaky loo and rad, as I am top floor and building owner said I would be held Liable for damages to flat below.
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Urgent work needs doing but can't get plumber

Post by dewaltdisney »

Do not worry and overfocus on this. A WC pan is easily replaced and it is just a bit of plumbing. Look at this https://www.screwfix.com/p/toilet-to-go ... 6ltr/78711 Unfortunately, many so-called trades are very picky with their work as they want to be in and out with an easy job. The other thing is they are too lazy to walk upstairs a few times with their tools. This leads you into thinking that it is probably worse than it is The guy who responded sounds like a reasonable chap and if he is a decent plumber he probably has a lot of work on. Let us hope he comes back. Meanwhile do not fret about it :thumbright:

DWD
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l00ey (Sat Jun 06, 2020 3:36 pm)
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Urgent work needs doing but can't get plumber

Post by l00ey »

dewaltdisney wrote:
Sat Jun 06, 2020 3:11 pm
Do not worry and overfocus on this. A WC pan is easily replaced and it is just a bit of plumbing. Look at this https://www.screwfix.com/p/toilet-to-go ... 6ltr/78711 Unfortunately, many so-called trades are very picky with their work as they want to be in and out with an easy job. The other thing is they are too lazy to walk upstairs a few times with their tools. This leads you into thinking that it is probably worse than it is The guy who responded sounds like a reasonable chap and if he is a decent plumber he probably has a lot of work on. Let us hope he comes back. Meanwhile do not fret about it :thumbright:

DWD
Thanks, the reason I was fretting is because even before @chrrris mentioned "opening a can of worms" I thought about that myself because of the extensive alterations the old owner did, he did roofing, plumbing, electrical work, tiing,carpentry and he was none of these trades, his wife inherited a perfectly normal flat, and he messed it up, without getting the permission needed by the building owner, that leaseholders are obliged to get before starting any works. Worse still, he didn't even get contractors in, it was DIY, and he didn't even refurbish or renovate, he just altered.
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Post by chrrris »

l00ey wrote:
Sat Jun 06, 2020 3:39 pm

Thanks, the reason I was fretting is because even before @chrrris mentioned "opening a can of worms" I thought about that myself because of the extensive alterations the old owner did, he did roofing, plumbing, electrical work, tiing,carpentry and he was none of these trades, his wife inherited a perfectly normal flat, and he messed it up, without getting the permission needed by the building owner, that leaseholders are obliged to get before starting any works. Worse still, he didn't even get contractors in, it was DIY, and he didn't even refurbish or renovate, he just altered.
As DWD said, don't worry too much about what I said - I didn't mean to make you fret. Bear in mind we haven't been to your flat and don't know what's wrong, or what state the existing plumbing is in. It may all be great for all I know! I was just giving a few possible reasons why some of the people you've had in may have been put off. If one of the guys you've contacted, and who's actually seen the job, has now got back to you, then all sounds well. :thumbright:
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l00ey (Sat Jun 06, 2020 4:42 pm)
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Post by l00ey »

chrrris wrote:
Sat Jun 06, 2020 4:12 pm
l00ey wrote:
Sat Jun 06, 2020 3:39 pm

Thanks, the reason I was fretting is because even before @chrrris mentioned "opening a can of worms" I thought about that myself because of the extensive alterations the old owner did, he did roofing, plumbing, electrical work, tiing,carpentry and he was none of these trades, his wife inherited a perfectly normal flat, and he messed it up, without getting the permission needed by the building owner, that leaseholders are obliged to get before starting any works. Worse still, he didn't even get contractors in, it was DIY, and he didn't even refurbish or renovate, he just altered.
As DWD said, don't worry too much about what I said - I didn't mean to make you fret. Bear in mind we haven't been to your flat and don't know what's wrong, or what state the existing plumbing is in. It may all be great for all I know! I was just giving a few possible reasons why some of the people you've had in may have been put off. If one of the guys you've contacted, and who's actually seen the job, has now got back to you, then all sounds well. :thumbright:
I'm sorry because I sounded like I was saying you caused me to worry when all you were doing was sharing your knowledge.
The flat is a complete nightmare. Not just plumbing.
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Post by fin »

it may appear to be a nightmare to you but it may just be a case of a plumber saying look at what the last blokes done here... jesus what a mess. there can't really be that much wrong with plumbing. surely.

stop cock sounds knackered. hopfully its an easy enough fix.

toilet pan sounds knackered. hopfully thats also an easy enough fix. they nearly always are to be honest certainly in my experience.

if the existing plumbing is a total mess it will likely be easier cutting the lot out and starting again. simple enough once you get into it. i wonder if by a right mess there is lead to copper joints and pipework going to now non existent appliances or whatever.

im a joiner not a plumber but i can cope with plumbing. bending pipework, soldering pipework, runing in pipework etc etc. i often do my own plumbing first fixes for kitchen refurbs rather than chasing a plumber up. although i do get a plumber for any gas work.

these past 2 months i have been extremely busy. often working till late on an evening. and weekends. ive had a canny few people ring up and wanting stuff done and all sorts. some ive actually forgotten about. some ive just not had the time to get too. seems as though everyone in my area has been mentally busy lately
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