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How to Inspect for Leaking Fixtures

Maintain fixtures and avoid floor damage with these simple inspection tips.

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A potential buyer needs to hear from a house inspector before committing to purchase a 1924 bungalow in Linthicum, Md. She's a little apprehensive about taking on a long-abandoned home so Reggie Marston, a 30-year veteran inspector, comes in to assess the situation.

Inspector's Notebook
Very often, small problems go unnoticed. But they can end up costing you big bucks. That was the case in Linthicum where a $10 toilet flange leaked and resulted in damage to the subfloor.

The toilet flange is connected to the sewer pipe and it’s sealed to the bottom of the commode with a wax ring. But over time, the toilet can become loose and the flange or wax ring can deteriorate, often causing a slow and almost unnoticeable leak. Damage can occur before you even know you have a problem.

To avoid problems, regularly check for water around the base of the toilet. That’s usually a sign of a leaking flange or wax seal. Rock the commode to see if it’s tight. A loose toilet could mean a leak. A stained ceiling below the toilet can also be a sign of trouble above. If you suspect your toilet is leaking, turn off the water valve behind the toilet, drain the bowl and call a plumber.

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