On a recent Friday night, I received a call from a panicked tenant complaining that water was leaking from the ceiling below the second floor bathroom into kitchen. After first asking the tenant to turn off the water to the house, I called my plumber and then went over to diagnose the problem
A quick inspection didn’t yield an obvious cause to the leak so we turned on the water try to chase it down. We couldn’t tell where the water was leaking from so we were forced to cut holes in the kitchen ceiling to see where the water was leaking from. The only obvious source was the toilet area but to be sure, we removed the toilet and cut another hole in the drywall behind the toilet. After looking through these openings in the drywall we realized there wasn’t a broken water line after all.
The water was backing up the toilet drain line through the flange in the toilet and out into the cavity between the ceiling and floor above! So we snaked out the toilet drain line and discovered Clorox wipes wrapped around the snake.
Clorox wipes or similar products won’t flush down in the toilet!
The wipes were caught in the toilet drain line, causing the water to back up through the toilet flange. Bottom line — it was tenant caused. They were using Clorox wipes to clean the bathroom and and then flushing them down the toilet.
These wipes do not break down in the sewer lines like toilet paper. They get caught inside the drain line and snag anything else coming down from the toilet, causing the toilet to back up. Yuck!
According to the California Association of Real Estate Lease Agreement, Item 11a:
“Tenant shall be charged to repair drain blockages or stoppages unless caused by defective plumbing parts or tree roots invading sewer lines.”
Tenant caused damage is the tenant’s responsibility. Between the plumbing bill and drywall repair, the flushing of wipes of this type will cost the tenant between $1000-$1500.