How to deal with a blocked or leaking toilet
A leaking or blocked toilet can be a problem, especially if you live in a residential block. www.leaseholdersupport.co.uk suggests ways to solve the problem.
A blocked or leaking toilet is a problem that most of us have had to deal with at some point in time. However, when living in a residential block there may be confusion as to who is responsible for the repair and maintenance of the toilet system.
Toilets can become blocked in a number of ways:
A blockage in the pan.
A blockage in the U-bend.
A blockage in the outlet pipe.
A blockage in the drain or drainage inspection chamber outside.
A toilet may leak from the following places:
On the water inlet pipe that provides cold water to fill and re-fill the cistern.
At the flange joint where the soil or waste pipe joins the WC u-bend pipe.
Considerations in solving the problem:
The first signs of a blockage are likely to be slow drainage of the WC when it is flushed or water rising up the pan before draining. It ought to be assumed that the blockage is affecting a WC unless there are reports of other WCs in the building which could suggest a blockage in the drainage channels or chamber.
Leakage from a WC pan is likely to be intermittent whereas leakage from an inlet pipe that fills and refills a cistern is likely to be constant and could be connected to the mains.
For any leaks it is necessary to establish what area of the building is affected, as assuming a WC is boxed in, some excavation works may be necessary to determine the cause.
A leak to the outlet of a WC will be intermittent (occur when flushed) and probably first noticed by either a damp musty smell in the bathroom of the offending flat or water penetration into the property below. Water will run to the lowest point and will find any easy route which is often through the hole in a ceiling left for a light fitting!
Intermittent leaks in warm humid areas such as in a bathroom are often a cause of dry rot and should be treated very seriously. Dry rot can spread very quickly and cause damage to the structure of a building.
Service ducts between flats can further disguise a problem as water may even bypass the property immediately below and not cause damp until perhaps, a horizontal pipe or timber is hit which the water, via a bridging effect, travels into another dwelling.
When trying to diagnose the problem of a blocked or leaking toilet, you should ask yourself the following questions:
What floor is your flat
Do you know if the bathrooms are stacked one above another?
Is there a service duct?
In which direction does your WC waste leave your bathroom?
Do you know if other flats are affected
Does it subside at off peak usage times?
Have you checked the cold water pipe that fills the cistern?
Is there any water in the trap? If the water level in the WC pan falls, this could be because the WC pan is not properly installed, it may not be level or the ball valve in the cistern may be set too low to properly refill.
If there is a bad smell and no apparent sewerage leak, have any caustic materials to unblock the toilet been recently used?
Who is responsible for repair?
This will depend on the cause of the leak. The principle is that any communal pipe or drainage channel is a service charge responsibility and any pipe or service installation (WC) within a property is the responsibility of the owner of that property. Consideration therefore needs to be given as to where the blockage is, in the pan, U-bend, communal waste pipe, duct or drainage chamber. This may not be evident to the person reporting the incident but certainly any plumber attending should be instructed on his invoice to report what he has found so that if the repair does not form a legitimate service charge expense, it can be re-charged.
External soil pipes are a service charge responsibility as long as more than one dwelling is connected to it, from the point it serves more than one dwelling. This is because a typical lease would grant a lesseethe free uninterrupted passage and running of water, soil, gas, electricity from and to the demised premises through the sewers drains
How to deal with a blocked or leaking toilet is just one of the subjects featured on leaseholdersupport.co.uk. Members can download 130 FREE fact sheets to help them deal with common issues affecting residential flats, and gain access to online tools and step by step guides to make managing your own block easier. For more information visit: www.leaseholdersupport.co.uk
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