The Builder Says A Washing Machine Drip Pan Doesn't Catch Leaks Anyway

By
Home Inspector with Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
http://actvra.in/WfV

Are drip pans under washing machines, or water heaters, or HVAC mechanisms on upper floors important?

In this house, the builder says a washing machine drip pan doesn't catch leaks anyway.

If not, then why are they used everywhere else?

When I see a laundry room on an upper level, and in this house it is on the middle level, I always look to see what's underneath it.

Sometimes when there is an unfinished area underneath the builder does not put a pan under a laundry room.

Does the code require it?  No.  Nor does this county.

But what about common sense?  Or good sense?  Or best practice?

There is clearly no plan for a drip pan in this laundry room.  The drywall installation was scheduled for a couple of days hence.

And what's underneath?  The full bathroom for the basement mother-in-law suite.

You are looking at the wall that will house the sink on the left and the shower/tub on the right.

So why no drip pan?

My client asked.

Here is her email telling me what the builder said:

"He said because its a green house, no drip pan was done purposefully because the water hose would decrease the energy rating.  He was saying a drip pan wouldn't do anything if there really was a leak anyways."

Excuse me for sounding obtuse.  But, WHAT?

Well, silly, silly me!  Gee, I feel badly for even mentioning it!

I'm not sure what she means by "water hose," but still, I am wondering why any "hose" (supply or drain line) would affect any energy rating.  And why are there drip pans under so many things if they "don't do anything anyways?"

Sometimes builder practices baffle me, but sometimes builder answers BAFFLE ME TOO!

Maybe because I am so obtuse I am easy to baffle!

My recommendation:  when you see something amiss or missing in new construction, see if you can find out why.  If the answer doesn't make sense, LIKE THE ONE ABOVE, continue to pursue it!  Don't say whatever should be should be.  Instead suggest that WHAT SHOULD BE, SHOULD BE!  And a washing machine drip pan SHOULD BE BEST PRACTICE!

 

 

 

Posted by

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


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  1. Lenn Harley 08/31/2012 04:34 AM
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Show All Comments
Rainer
184,664
Thomas McCombs
Century 21 HomeStar - Akron, OH

It can't hurt. So put one in and then no one has to have this conversation.

September 02, 2012 08:49 AM #70
Rainmaker
1,219,071
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Sharon - things can sound good when first said, but when examined intellectually prove to be really stupid.

Karen - good idea!  Water detectors are great, especially near small leaks like under sinks, but someone needs to be home to hear it!  If nobody is home a pan can carry some or all of the water away.

Sharon - I see them installed in perhaps 90% of new construction around here.

Todd - hard to say without seeing the pan or the drain arrangement.  But depending on the flow of water a pan may not be sufficient to carry off all the water.

Michael - that is code around here, unless one is installed near a basement floor drain.

September 02, 2012 09:27 AM #71
Rainmaker
1,219,071
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Kim - the response did cause them to pause!  Air quality and green-ness are two different things.

I don't know either Randy!  It was an odd answer to be sure.

Bob C. - hard to know!  Around here it is exceptionally UNUSUAL not to see pans.

Bob M. - if there is a floor drain a pan might not be necessary.  But if there is a substantial leak, on a slab that water can go throughout the house!

A&T - these pans do not connect to the sanitary sewage system, but have their own dedicated drain directly to the outdoors.  You don't want a trap in that.

 

September 02, 2012 09:30 AM #72
Rainmaker
1,219,071
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Michael - this is a national builder and I was a bit surprised by all of this.  There were MANY other things on this inspection as well.

Robert - Water Cop sounds like a real good idea.  Also, when people are gone for some time, I recommend they turn off the water to the house.

Joe - you are welcome and please stop by any time!

Lyn - around here probably 90% of new construction have drip pans.  This is an unusual case.

Thomas - my thoughts exactly.  And it is easier to put one in now!

September 02, 2012 09:38 AM #73
Rainer
163,700
Rob Ernst
Certified Structure Inspector - Reno, NV
Reno, NV-775-342-4767- Inspector & Energy Auditor

I like these pans the best. http://www.floodsaver.com/surroundSpecs.html

As an Energy Auditor the only thing I can think of is he's staying that the pipe to the exterior is a source of air leakage. This would be true and would reflect as such when the blower door test was done. My solution would be to tighten something else up to make up for the drain line. Unless they are using mechanical ventilation the house needs some air leakage as to not go under the minimum ventilation guideline.

September 02, 2012 11:27 PM #74
Rainmaker
1,219,071
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

That's a nice pan Rob.  Doesn't look like it can be used with a front loader on the drawer stack.  I guess the drawer could be picked up on bricks or something.  That is such a passive air leak that only a blower door could detect it and during the test they only need to cover it with tape.  The blower door is to test for unknown leaks, and that isn't one of them.  If that pan hole is the only leak the house is too tight!

September 03, 2012 03:24 AM #75
Rainer
163,700
Rob Ernst
Certified Structure Inspector - Reno, NV
Reno, NV-775-342-4767- Inspector & Energy Auditor

It's a small leak but a leak. The IECC codes are harder on these leaks than ever before. The rough in blower door test is to look for unwanted leaks. You can only seal continuous ventilation systems and heat recovery ventilators. The post construction test would definitely not allow that to be sealed off and it would still show as leakage. It would cone to play when there is wind outside or when the house comes under negative pressure. I think the pan is more important. I was just trying to figure out the logic the guy might be using.

September 03, 2012 09:07 AM #76
Rainmaker
1,219,071
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

All agreed Rob.  I think he was smoke and mirrors.

September 03, 2012 09:16 AM #77
Rainer
163,700
Rob Ernst
Certified Structure Inspector - Reno, NV
Reno, NV-775-342-4767- Inspector & Energy Auditor

Plus now that I think about it the pan is often required as a moisture control device. Since new houses are tighter it is more important than ever. Good thing these buyers hire you but maybe the AHJ should hire you too.

September 03, 2012 09:24 AM #78
Rainmaker
1,219,071
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Rob - I see pans in 90% of new construction around here when the laundry room is over finished space.  Why not here I don't know.  There has to be money in it because of the "green-ness" of the home, as you suggest.

Also, Rob, I am seeing drip pans drained more and more often to a floor drain in the basement or into the sump pump pit.  Perhaps because of blower door testing.

September 03, 2012 09:28 AM #79
Rainmaker
268,309
Travis "the SOLD man" Parker; Associate Broker
Team Linda Simmons, Enterprise, AL 36330 - Enterprise, AL
email: Travis@theSOLDman.me / cell: 334-494-7846

I hadn't thought about it, partially because I almost never see a upstairs laundry room, but will remember to check from now on!

September 03, 2012 12:38 PM #80
Rainmaker
1,219,071
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

That's the spirit Travis.  They are easy to spot!

September 03, 2012 02:58 PM #81
Rainmaker
1,240,579
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

That builder sounds like a fool.  Although the excuse that the hose lowers the energy rating rings true of stupid government rules.  Not only should it have a drain pan; I would put in coved linoleum as that might provide some more minor protection.  

September 04, 2012 10:59 AM #82
Rainmaker
1,219,071
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Over a bathroom, Gene, and no pan could end up with very expensive repairs following a leak!

September 04, 2012 12:26 PM #83
Rainer
141,732
Robert Sole
REM Inspections LLC - Winter Springs, FL

Jay,

I used to feel the same way.  My purchsing manager asked me one time if I thought it would be a good idea to haave the plumbers install drip pans for washing machines in second floor laundries.  My reply was that while I did not belive they would do any good, it would make the buyer fell more comfortable.

About 2 weeks later, I came home from work and heard water running in my garage.  I didn't see any water but I could definitely hear it.  What I found was that my water heater had sprung a leak.  Not a minor dirp but a real gusher.  Other than a little that had splashed out, all the water was contained by the pan beneath the heater.

 

I called the purchasing manager the next morning and told him to make sure the pans were used in the laundry rooms.  We installed them on every home with a washer on the second floor after that.

September 04, 2012 02:46 PM #84
Rainmaker
1,219,071
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Well, Robert, nothing is 100%, but a pan is certainly better than no pan!  Around here the water heater pan is required on upper levels, and when far from the floor drain.  If far, a tube connects the pan to the drain.

September 04, 2012 03:32 PM #85
Rainmaker
99,764
John Sposato, Sharon Coffini & Melanie Didier
The Arizona Home Group - Chandler, AZ
Arizona Home Group

Sounds like the agent doesn't know what the hell they are talking about! What a joke. And THIS is exactly why a buyer needs represenation of their own agent!! I hope that you told the buyer so they can make a decision if this is okay with them. Here drip pans are required on 2nd floor laundries. 

September 05, 2012 11:13 AM #86
Rainmaker
1,219,071
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

This is new construction Arizona, so the buyers are dealing directly with the building supervisor.  I was with the buyer during our inspection, and they know very well!  About this and a bunch of other things!

September 05, 2012 11:32 AM #87
Rainmaker
261,430
Wayne B. Pruner
Oregon First - Tigard, OR
Tigard Oregon Homes for Sale, Realtor, GRI

Washing machines above the ground level always bother me. Make sure you have good insurance!

November 22, 2012 02:25 PM #88
Rainmaker
1,219,071
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

And make sure it covers a leak Wayne!  Hope you had a great holiday.

November 23, 2012 03:17 AM #89
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Rainmaker
1,219,071

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