Solve my mystery damp problem

(49 Posts)
BlogOnTheTyne Thu 26-Dec-13 05:46:49

(PigletJohn and others????) Newly converted garage with recently laid Amtico wood effect vinyl flooring and no current signs of leaking radiator pipes or roof....So why has the new large rug I laid down on the floor become very very damp and the nonslip mat beneath it and the Amtico flooring beneath that?

I'd also laid the new curtains on top of the rug, prior to hanging them and they too are very very wet. There's been sufficient dampness to penetrate from below the nonslip mat, through the rug, to the curtains on top. I am extremely confused.

I've got two theories and wonder if anyone can help me resolve things? My first theory is that the synthetic vinyl flooring, covered with a nonslip mat of synthetic material and then a part-latex, synthetic material rug have all created some kind of condensation 'trap' between the layers. Is that possible if you lay synthetic, non breathable material on top of vinyl? (I'm assuming the nonslip mat and the part latex rug are 'non breathable').

Can you get a build up of condensation on a floor like this, if you cover it? The area of the rug that became wet is beneath a window but also beneath a radiator.

There's a condensation problem in the room as there's a build up of condensation between a circular single pane window and the secondary glazing which was put up over it. It's not too bad now (that was another post here) but is still occurring. Haven't been opening the windows because it's been cold and wet outside but maybe should be doing this?

Second theory - which is more worrying: the new en suite toilet off this room, leaked a while ago (posted about that here too) and the builders returned to fix the waste pipe and hopefully prevent further leaking. There hasn't been any visible signs of an ongoing leak from there but I was worried at the time that the leakage had penetrated underneath all the newly laid basic flooring (a 'floating floor') and would remain there and slowly penetrate upwards across time, once the Amtico floor had been laid.

The builders assured me that it would be fine and that the floating floor they'd laid had an antidamp liner, as per builder regulations - so there couldn't and wouldn't be a problem with residual damp rising through the floor. Are they right? Or could this be what's happening now? But can dampness penetrate to that degree upwards through the builders floating floor, the flooring companies initial boarding out on top of that and then the Amtico vinyl as the final layer?

Why would this damp problem only be happening in one area, if this were indeed the case - and that area being furthest away from the en suite toilet?

So from the info. here, has anyone got an idea about why my rug and floor became wet? I've taken up the rug and nonslip mat but does this mean I can't lie a rug on the floor at all or would I need to replace the new synthetic one with something natural like wool and would that stop the possible condensation issue (if that's what it is)? Is this a common problem with synthetic rugs on vinyl flooring or could it even be something about the nonslip mat beneath the rug that's causing the issue (rug and nonslip mat are both Dunelm Mill)?

MinimalistMommi Thu 26-Dec-13 08:18:57

If the rug and curtains are very wet then it sounds like a pretty urgent leak?

BlueSprite Thu 26-Dec-13 08:43:13

Not an expert, but the level of dampness you describe does suggest a leak beneath the floor (however unlikely, due to the anti damp liner) and that maybe the non slip mat, rug and curtains have acted as a sponge and soaked it up. I would want to keep the floor free of anything and see what happens.

It does sound like the humidity levels are too high in the room (condensation on window), although this could be mainly down to a leak. Can you think of any reasons the moisture might have built up so much? (Other than lack of air flow, which is a major one!) Are you drying washing indoors? It just seems strange that the curtains got wet so quickly - presumably they hadn't been laid down long and you would have noticed if the rug was already wet?

For what it's worth (we had a damp consultation) I understand synthetic materials can indeed trap moisture, but I would want to rule out a leak first, due to the amount of moisture.

Hope you get to the bottom of it.

PigletJohn Thu 26-Dec-13 08:45:58

Yes

Wet floor
Leak.
Does your boiler have a pressure gauge?
Have you got a water meter?

BlogOnTheTyne Thu 26-Dec-13 09:13:17

OK. Been back into the room this morning - no covering on the Amtico floor now - and it feels totally dry and still can't see any signs of leaking radiator or pipes or any damp on floor, which feels dry.

Would a leak beneath the Amtico, the boarded underlay and the floating floor only be apparent if you put something over the top that might them bring it to the surface - ie the blotting paper effect? What I don't get is how non permeable or possibly semi-permeable nonslip mat and synthetic rug would do that 'blotting paper' thing and draw up moisture?

Also, why would there now be no sign of damp, once the rug and mat have gone?

The rug and the curtains laid on top were down for about 2 days I think before I went in the room again yesterday evening. I can't imagine that either was wet before hand as the rug was bought from the shop floor - so had been spread out from a 'hanger' for a while - not stored in the warehouse rolled up and I didn't notice it was wet when I laid it out. The curtains had been in plastic packaging and definitely weren't damp before.

PigletJohn, not sure if the boiler has a pressure gauge. The builder's plumber turned up the pump on the system as he said we needed more pressure to heat the 4 new rads. put in (3 on that garage development and one on the other side of the house).

Yes, we've also got a water meter at the top of our driveway, under a hard to lift manhole cover thing but not sure I can read it/access it.

I think I'll put some kitchen roll down on the Amtico flooring now and see if this draws up any moisture.

I'm beginning to panic as my builders (who have effectively finished here a few weeks ago anyway) aren't back from holidays till the day I re-start work from this new office and I already have several important work meetings all day every day that week, in this new room.

I really hope that the entire new Amtico flooring doesn't need to be taken up - as I'm not sure I can force the expense on the builders, if so. The Amtico was laid by a completely different company and I did email my builders - following the toilet leak - to put in writing my expectation that they'd foot the bill if the leak wasn't fixed and water ingress damaged the new floor - but they didn't respond at all.

So I'm not sure what my rights would be and also how do I know whether the entire flooring needs to come back up (£2K+ to put down) - which would effectively totally damage it and entire new flooring would then be needed - without taking it up anyway to check? It's all glued in place now and is permanent.

Of course no one is working today.

PigletJohn Thu 26-Dec-13 10:02:52

there might be a leak from the radiator pipe.

If the boiler has a pressure gauge, it will be visible, probably behind a flop-down flap. If not it will be fed from a small feed and expansion tank in the loft. Newish boilers are usually pressurised.

The value of a water meter in spotting leaks is that they have a tiny air bubble which moves whenever water passes through. If there is a leak it will never be still, even when all taps are off. Meters are usually under a small plastic hatch, about 8" square, in the pavement or on the boundary. Not a manhole.

Do you know a trusted plumber?

Tape a piece of clear plastic tightly to the floor. See if water forms on top, or underneath, the plastic. The bigger the better.

Open the windows to let the damp air out.

BlogOnTheTyne Thu 26-Dec-13 11:07:35

Oh God! I've just found that the back of the toliet has a pool of water there again. I assume that the leak they 'fixed' with a new waste pipe and silicone filler etc hasn't worked. Would this also mean then that the toilet has had a slow leak continuing that has gone right under the tiled floor in the toilet and spread under the entire new office flooring?

If that's the case, the only way to prove it, is for the whole flooring to be taken up -which will irreparably damage the Amtico flooring - laid only a week ago by a specialist firm.

What on earth am I going to do?

My builders will no way want to accept blame or foot the bill and although I'm about to put it all in writing to them and follow through with a telephone call, they said they'd be away till 6th Jan. Do I just let the leak continue in the meantime?

If I can get a plumber to come out (and I don't really know anyone except may the man who fit our new bolier at the start of this year - and he probably won't be working today) - will my building company pay for that visit?

BlogOnTheTyne Thu 26-Dec-13 11:37:04

PigletJohn. I can't find a pressure gauge. I've taped a large piece of plastic to the floor now. I've emailed the builders but I don't expect they'll reply. I'm not sure whether to call out a plumber now or whether if they do anything today (if I can even get someone to come out today) - the building company will argue that this is interfering with their works so that any claim I might need to make against them becomes invalid?

Would that be the case? Should I try to get hold of a general plumber shortly, if I can't get hold of the builders? Should I just stuff kitchen roll behind the toilet and wait till after today, when there might be more people working again - although not by builders?

PigletJohn Thu 26-Dec-13 11:47:52

a general plumber can do a WC water leak. I bet it is coming from the cistern. Take the lid off and tie up the float. The water level might look surprisingly high. There might be a service valve on the water supply pipe that goes into the side or bottom of the cistern. If it has a screw head turn it so the slot is across the direction of the pipe.

BlogOnTheTyne Thu 26-Dec-13 12:09:27

PigletJohn. I took the top off the cistern and it's anew style mechanism, I assume, as I don't recognise any parts and there isn't an obvious float. So not sure what to do next.

Can't find a service valve but then the whole thing is boxed in so it's probably behind the boxing.

Not sure whether to phone the builders now (thought I suspect they're all away on exotic holidays) or try to call an emergency plumber... Ina bit os a state here and the DCs day is ruined.

PigletJohn Thu 26-Dec-13 12:21:48

call your home insurers, say you have an escape of water which is damaging the floor, they will have a panel of local plumbers. Their initial concern will be to limit the water damage because it might cost them a big claim. They will be open today.

try not to get into a conversation about whose fault it is and why. Just say you don't understand about these things but the flooring is wet.

You will probably have to pay for the repair, but they may deal with the damage and possibly claim off the builder. They will have had practice of it.

BlogOnTheTyne Thu 26-Dec-13 12:54:48

I'm reluctant to call insurance company as I've made no claims for yrs and think this would affect my policy. However, I've phoned the company that fit my new boiler earlier this yr and he's not free today but could come tomorrow.

He also mentioned to me about finding the service valve. I'll have another look for this. Not sure where it'll be coming from however or if I'd recognise it if I saw it? Would it likely be on the left or the right or above or below the area around the back of the cistern?

Wonder if I should try to take off all the boxing myself too....?

He asked if the leak is only happening when the toilet is flushed and I'm not sure but if it is only then, would that mean that once I dry up all the water on the floor and don't flush the toilet again, there should be no further leaking?

This is really spoiling the entire day for the DCs who haven't even had lunch yet. Am furious with the builder now.

PigletJohn Thu 26-Dec-13 13:23:44

IMO you have a persistent leak and it will be from the cistern or supply pipe not the waste pipe. Of course I could be guessing wrong.

Modern cisterns are usually fed with a 15mm copper pipe going into the bottom for neatness (going in through the side near the top is less troublesome but is considered less pretty).

There is a good chance that there will be an isolating valve on this pipe, somewhere between the cistern and where it goes into the floor or wall. Cheap 99p valves sometimes leak. A Pegler valve is much better.

BlogOnTheTyne Thu 26-Dec-13 13:39:37

PigletJohn, you are being incredibly helpful here today and I really appreciate this. Thank you. It's not the first time you've helped me out.

I've had another good look as much as I can see behind and below the cistern. There's a barely visible silvery twisted 'pipe' thing going into the cistern and at various points, where it's still visible, there seem to be 'nuts' joining it to a harder piece of proper pipe and another 'nut' joining that too (sorry, i might mean a bolt not a nut). I can't however see an isolating valve which i assume would be like what you get on a pipe connecting to a tap where you can turn it to an off position.

It may be hidden behind boxing as most of it's occluded. Daren't try doing anything to the nuts/bolts in case I loosen something. There was some dampness coming somewherer nearer the cistern area above the area where the main pool of water has accumulated. So it may well be the cistern or supply pipe connection that's leaking and not the waste pipe.

The builders previously said it was the waste pipe and replaced this, sealed it, put back the toilet and regrouted the floor tiles.

I think I'd really like my boiler fitter to take a good look at everything tomorrow as he's much more experienced than my v nice but v young and inexperienced builders.

With regards to the wider issue of the damp coming up from the main room floor (if this is what happened with the rug), how long should I wait after taping a large piece of plastic there, until I check for damp underneath? Would damp underneath prove it's not atmospheric condensation but instead damp from under the floor?

PigletJohn Thu 26-Dec-13 13:47:25

I expect you have a braided stainless flexible connector. Some of them have an integral valve, the sort you turn with a screwdriver. The hose itself must not be twisted or kinked.

The larger nuts at the connection of the hose to the copper pipe and the hose to the cistern you had better not touch. the leak could be here but if you have not done it before you might make it worse. Tie dry kitchen roll round each joint you see, it will get wet at the leak.

yes, the plastic sheet identifies condensation, if it gets wet on top.

PigletJohn Thu 26-Dec-13 13:50:29

observe the screwdriver slot in this one

It will (should) be where it connects to the copper pipe.

It will (should) have been positioned so it is easy and quick to access the slot.

PigletJohn Thu 26-Dec-13 14:35:53

btw if you feel like it, you could stir some blue food dye into the water in the pan, and some red dye into the cistern, and see if either leaks out.

BlogOnTheTyne Thu 26-Dec-13 15:31:39

Spot on, PigletJohn. I can feel a leak from the top large connecting nut joining the graided steel flexible connector. There may be more further down too but the ones I can access feel dry.

The isolating valve is the third one down and I cna only feel this behind the boxing of the pipes. I can't actually see it and it's far behind the boxing and my arm and hand will only just fit behind there. To access it, I'd need to take off the repainted boxing that was taken off last time and then replaced and re-painted (rather shoddily I see).

I've put toilet roll round the leaking nut to see how much water is coming out. However, might this be condensation and not a leak? I can't actually detect whether enough water is coming form there to have made the pool behind the toilet. I assume just basic condensation however couldn't have created such a pool over the last few days.

I'm still not sure whether that leaking nut is responsible therefore for the pool on the toilet floor nor whether this is in any way connected to the dampness in the main room, adjacent, that soaked the rug and curtains.

If there isn't any condensation on top of the plastic I've taped toe the floor - by tomorrow, do I assume that the damp came from below and was 'sucked up' by the rug and therefore is indicative of damp beneath all the flooring?

I've had the windows open all day but will need to close them tonight for security and the central heating will also come on. So presumably the condensation will worsen overnight?

No response at all all day from the builders.

BlogOnTheTyne Thu 26-Dec-13 15:32:28

PS don't have any food dye in the house to test where the toilet leak is coming from. But thanks for that idea.

PigletJohn Thu 26-Dec-13 15:43:34

condensation will form on the cistern and pipe if they are cold. If you don't flush then they will come up to room temp unless they are leaking and cold water from the main is flowing in.

you can try to put a tray, grill pan or basin to catch the drips.

peggyundercrackers Thu 26-Dec-13 22:02:33

my folks old cistern used to get really wet with condensation so much so that you would think it was leaking and it would leave a puddle of water on the floor, I think a plumber eventually lined the cistern with something to stop the condensation forming but cant remember what they done exactly as this was years and years ago.

I cant see how water would come up through amtico - its rubber backed - cant you pull up a panel of amtico to look underneath to see if its damp? I know ours is not stuck down fast and we have lifted panels before and put them down again with no ill-effect.

legoqueen Fri 27-Dec-13 09:39:10

The food colouring idea is genius...

PigletJohn Fri 27-Dec-13 09:47:12

ta!

with two colours, you can identify three potential areas of leakage.

clear water will be from the supply pipe.

BlogOnTheTyne Fri 27-Dec-13 16:17:48

I called out an experienced plumber/gas man today - the one who fit our boiler earlier in the yr. He explained exactly where the leak is though i don't think I can put it in words here - something to do with the doughnut ring or oval or something and a leak there and also - after the builders 'repaired' the leak last time, the only part not repaired was the part that was leaking and they used tons of mastic that made it worse or created another leak or something.

Anyway, a few minutes after he arrived, my builders telephoned and were apologetic and I told them I already had a plumber here. They spoke to him on the phone and it was decided that the plumber would only do the check but not the repair works but the builders will foot the bill.

My builder then arrived after the plumber had gone. He admitted fault, blamed a young inexperienced worker who'd done the original fit and then the repair and said they'd sacked him but would also make him pay for the plumber today. Poor young bloke.

They said a completely different plumber of theirs will come tomorrow but they'll get back to me and they'll fit an entirely new toilet. However, they've not yet got back to confirm this and I hope they don't leave me in the lurch as I'd really rather have used the experienced plumber to do the job today. As the builders are paying, i suppose it's only reasonable to expect them to want to use one of their own people.

The wet rug and curtains remains a mystery but I have another theory: I stood in that part of the room today and could feel a very noticeable draught/breeze which i think came from the passivent in the skylight. Given the recent gales and rain where we are, I think it's just possible that excessive winds have thrust spray/rain through the passivent and onto the floor across the course of two days when I hadn't gone in that room.

It may usually be impossible for this to happen as passivents aren't supposed to be able to leak water but the unusal conditions may have over-ridden this. I've managed to half close the passivent for now - although i realise it should be kept open normally to reduce condensation in the room. I've relaid the rug which is now dry and I'll see what happens next.

The plastic sheet that I taped to the floor didn't get wet either on top or beneath it. So I assume that there isn't any water penetrating from underneath.

Peggy, the Amtico is stuck fast completely and was only put down last week. So I can't pull any up.

BlogOnTheTyne Fri 27-Dec-13 16:59:17

Oh great! Just spoken again to the builder who says they think someone will come out to fix the leak on Monday afternoon! that measn it's still leaking over the next 2.5 days and the plumber who came today could have fixed it in 2 hrs today!

However, the builders didn't want to pay his rates and have cheaper people they use.

I've clarified that if there's further damage caused by the leak, then the builders will need to foot the bill. They said I have to keep an eye on it regularly and put down a towel etc. I'm a bit cross again. It could have all bene fixed by the experienced plumber today. Not at all sure how good their own plumber will be nor if he'll actually turn up on Monday at all.

Should I be worried that my builders are happy to leave a toilet leaking for another 2.5 days? The plumber here today couldn't access the isolating valave as it's behind the boxed in pipes. So water continues to drip.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now