On New Years day I got a call from my wonderful, but concerned, niece who was house-sitting for my son. A small amount of water was leaking through the basement ceiling right underneath the kitchen floor. Problem was, she could not locate the source of the water. Hearing this I was immediately concerned too!
My brother-in-law (her dad) and I rushed right over to save the day.
On the way, we reviewed the most frequent causes of residential floods:
Broken Refrigerator Water Lines
Sump Pump Failures
When we went down to the basement we found that a wet ceiling tile had been removed, there was a bucket on the carpeted floor to catch drips, and a fan was already drying the carpet. My niece, her fiance, and her brother-in-law had done a good job of starting the mitigation process.
Up in the kitchen we discovered that the oak hardwood flooring was dry. There was no water under the sink or the dishwasher. We (carefully) pulled out the refrigerator – dry as a bone. Even the first floor bathroom and laundry room passed inspection.
The drip from the basement ceilling (which had stopped) was right beneath the middle of the kitchen floor, far away from any water source.
My niece said a glass of water had spilled earlier in the day, but it had been wiped up immediately. The dishwasher had run the night before, too, but with no apparent problems or leaks.
In the basement, we removed more ceiling tiles and traced the water supply lines from the kitchen sink all the way to the water meter. We also examined the refrigerator water supply line. Everything was dry secure, and without leakes!
Puzzled, we mopped up the small amount water on the air ducts near the ceiling and left. The leak remained a mystery.
My niece house-sat until March with no further water issues. To be safe, she did not run the dishwasher.
When my son and his family returned home they resumed normal living – including use of the dishwasher – with no water problems.
Two months later I got a call… the dishwasher had backed up and overflowed onto the floor. Water was dripping from the basement ceiling just like in January.
My son wiped up the floor, set fans in the basement and kitchen, and cranked up his Santa Fe Classic dehumidifier manufactured by Therma-stor (a housewarming gift). I loaned him a moisture meter from the office and he tracked the drying progress over the next few days.
He also replaced the dishwasher – it seems that model had a history of intermittent discharge pump problems.
Finally! Problem solved – mystery solved.
The moral of the story? Monitor the operation of appliances that use water: sometimes they leak in sneaky ways.
by Mark Finley, Administrator/Manager at A&J Specialty Services, Inc. DKI