Testing bathtub overflows

I’m trying to get a feel for how many out there fill the bath tubs and cause water to overflow into the tub overflow to test for leaks.

I do not test overflows because of time constraints. There is also a risk of forgeting and letting the tub overflow onto the floor.

What’s the general opinion?

Not me. Never done that, never will. Actually, that’s not entirely true. I was filling a jacuzzi tub once and forget it and caught it just a few seconds from overflowing. I’ll not make that mistake again!:slight_smile:

lol…ok…I confess…I was filling a sink one day and when unit the sink the check for leaks around the grout edge…you know normal signs of water damage and proper traps and so on…and well guess what…it was nearly overflowing…I caught it just in time…man that would have been nasty…lol

Is “not” testing tub overflows for leaks part of the SOP for NACHI or ASHI? I didn’t read it in there and it’s not really addressed as far as I can tell.

I only test them if there’s a plumbing access to actually see the over flow seal and connection. This allows me to release the main drain and stop the over flow leak immediately. And of course, one must be very careful with regard to upper level bathrooms. Ever notice WDO inspectors do not flood test upper level shower pans and have a disclaimer in their reports regarding same.

How would you test for leaks, wait till the water starts seeping out of the wall in back of it, or until the water starts dripping through the second floor ceiling…I have seen new construction where the tub overflow drain was not plumbed correctly. When the tub is enclosed around sheetrock I would never test it. You never know what might happen.

I do not fill any tubs to inspect the overflow drains.

But I can recall one time when I turned on both hot & cold nozzles in order to fill a tub to inspect the jacuzzi jets in a 2nd floor bathroom. The water was flowing slowly so I decided to go into the attic and let the tub fill slowly.

I ran into several issues while I was inspecting the attic and forgot I had the water running in the bathroom. As I was exiting the attic, I heard the water flowing and said to myself “OH SH!T…” I then jumped from the pull down ladder and ran to the bathroom, WOW…did I get lucky.

The water was cresting right at the tub edge and about to overflow onto the floor. One more second and I would have been in a real bad situation. I always make it a point to stay on the same level when filling tubs.

I had an almost identical experience. I intervened at exactly the same point. Only seconds left before disaster. It was a very valuable lesson for me as well. Thank God this one didn’t cost me anything. I was in the home alone so I only had myself there to see it. I learned my lesson. There have been others too embarassing to go into.

So, in other words we should disclose that we do not test the over-flows of tubs or sinks.

Does someone have a good suggestion of how this should be written?

I’m in agreement with what I’ve been reading but here’s my problem.
If the tub overflow can leak then it’s better to discover it during the inspection rather than after the new owners move in.

One way or another it’s going to be discovered.

Yes, I agree that you may not find a small leak if the area behind or under the tub is concealed. In this discussion I’m primarily concerned with baths over a finished level.

Many times the overflow leak could be discovered if I allowed the tub to overflow for a few minutes then listened and re-inspected below the tub.
Easier to argue that a small leak was missed in a concealed area. Most of the leaks I’ve seen during re-inspects are pretty big leaks that would have been easily noticed if the tub were allowed to overflow.

Now again remember that I do not and still do not endorse testing tub overflows. The problem is communicating this position to the buyer, agent and in some cases the seller (if the overflow leaks).

I might be inclined to test overflows on suspicious situations like,

-newer house out of warranty but one of the tubs have never been used,

-old house with ceiling repairs on first floor below tub area. Dry at inspection time but sellers have maybe learned not to overflow the tub.

-brand new tub installed in older home. Recent remodeling or new bathroom.

-Big house with many baths and beds but older couple with no kids live there and probably take showers only.

From a business standpoint, the time it would take to test 1-4 tubs in every house times 425 inspections a year probably wouldn’t equal the value of catching 1 or 2 leaking overflows, even if I had to pay for the repair. let’s say it added 15 minutes to each inspection times 425 inspections a year would be about 106 hours. Times this with my billable time of $100 -$125 an hour and that equals over $10,000. Hard to justify especially when it’s not a safety concern. (I don’t bill by the hour but I just used billable time to make an account for time used)

It’s a hard defense to say, yes, I could have tested this but I choose not to but that’s what it comes down to from my viewpoint.

Any other opinions?

I would much rather discover and disclose a leak on-site than hear about it later from an attorney, in which the damage will be vastly exagerated and the cost of repairs inflated. Plumbers charge almost as much as attorneys.

Hey, Keith.

I started out testing bathtub and shower overflows and really had my head chewed off by CREIA and its inspectors. Apparently, testing bathtub and shower overflows here in California is done by pest control services. After checking with several pest control professionals that I knew, my own attorney and I decided that it would be prudent of us not to test bathtub and shower overflows. So we put this into my Interactive Report System:

Nice quote Russel. I disclaim them in my contract as well…

hay Russel, call me ignint, but what in tar-nations does a pest control co. have to do with a tub drain???

personally i do test the overflow, but you don’t have to fill it up that high. just run warm water slowly, cup your hands over the trip lever and let it run in. same effect, much less time.

That’s a new one for me. Pest Control test overflows? At first I thought RR was jokeing but once I read his IRS v2 quote? Why would they be doing that?

PHEW!!! now i don’t feel as dumb…o.k. so i do, but at least i’m not alone. Plus you have a good first name.

I give up…why does the termite guy test shower pans and tub overflows?

RUUUUUUUUUSSSSS…please educate all us with bloody scalps from scratching our heads on this one.

Moisture is conducive to termites. In slab foundations the plumbing penetrations in the slab are treated for termites during construction. If there is a leak there, the chemical gets diluted and there is nothing to keep the little devils out.