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Avoiding Do-It-Yourself Debacles
By: Barry Stone
March 26, 2002

Dear Barry,

A home inspector found rotted flooring under my toilet. When the toilet was removed, we found a crack in the drain hardware that holds the toilet in place. Do I need a carpenter, plumber, or general contractor to make proper repairs? On the other hand, would it be possible for me to do the repairs myself? -- Lee

Dear Lee,

Many homeowners are able to complete basic building and maintenance repairs on their own, and you may be among them. But the lack of general familiarity reflected in your question indicates that you may not possess the construction knowledge necessary for this particular project.

Replacement of the drain flange on the floor is not especially difficult for those with experience in corrective plumbing work. But there are numerous complications to which such repairs are prone. As most do-it-yourselfers can tell you, plumbing hardware can be disagreeably willful by nature. In this case, the old toilet flange might steadfastly refuse to separate from the drainpipe. And if it should elect to cooperate and relinquish its grip, the edge of the old pipe could be strong willed and decide to crack, or it might simply be incompatible with the new replacement flange.

What’s more, as is common with plumbing repairs, you should anticipate at least five consecutive trips to the hardware store as part of the task. To avoid these serial voyages, you must be the proud owner of a fully equipped plumbing truck. If you lack such provisions, and if this repair process sounds like more trouble than it’s worth, and if you’d prefer not to handle hardware that has functioned as a conduit for excretory waste, you’d be wise to opt for the services of a licensed plumber.

As to the rotted floor, such damage is the result of fungus infection. Here again, professional expertise can make a significant difference. If you remove all of the wood that appears damaged, but leave behind any infected members, continued rot can occur. Therefore, it is advisable to hire a licensed pest control operator to ensure that all fungus-infested wood has been removed or effectively treated with the appropriate chemicals.

The choice is yours. You can make the repairs yourself if you are well endowed with such skills and can withstand the frustrations of homeowner plumbing repairs. Otherwise, I’d assign these processes to qualified professionals.

Dear Barry,

Since selling our home, the buyers have complained about the air conditioner. Before the sale, we had the system serviced and it was working fine. During the escrow, the buyers’ home inspector said the system needed repair because of a leaking coil. We told the buyers the system had just been serviced, so they chose not to follow the inspector’s advice. After closing escrow, the system began to malfunction. At that point, the buyers requested a copy of our service receipt. That’s when we noticed the contractor’s written recommendation. The bill says the coil should be replaced and will cost $600. Verbally, he had said the coil would need eventual replacement. Now the buyers want us to buy a new coil. We weren’t trying to hide anything when we sold the property and are unsure about what we should do now. -- Mike

Dear Mike,

Although you were not trying to conceal a defective condition, nevertheless an inherent defect went undisclosed during the sale of the property. If it had come to light during the escrow, the buyers would probably have insisted on it’s repair, and you probably would have consented, rather than holding up the escrow. Therefore, as unpleasant as the loss of $600 may be, I’d recommend paying for replacement of the faulty A/C coil. However, in meeting this responsibility, you should request that the buyers sign a release form, freeing you of liability for any future problems with the A/C system.

Barry Stone can be reached at [email protected].

***

Copyright 2002 Barry Stone
Distributed by Inman News Features




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