Fixing Our Infamous Kitchen Leak!

So, I missed posting on Friday. Why? Because my kitchen was getting torn up searching for the source of the leak in our kitchen that we’ve had such a hard time finding.  You can see the damage up there, dripping away on our beam and messing up our ceiling … But I’m happy to say that we found the culprit!

Yep, here she is. The leaky pipe that caused us so much grief. There was a drip coming out of here about every ten seconds.  You can even see a drip coming out of the joint in this photo.

This pipe leads from my kids’ bathroom down through a chase in the kitchen into the basement. It was leaking through the kitchen ceiling, which is directly below this joint, and some water was also chasing aaaaalllll the way down the pipe to the basement.

This bad boy wasn’t easy to find. First, we had to open up the chase in the kitchen (above). Then, we had to tear apart the kitchen ceiling. Even with the ceiling open, we couldn’t tell where the water was.  As you can see, it was just soaked floorboards from the space hidden by the chase that continues into the room above, and there were no leaky pipes visible, only the copper ones you see above that lead to our upstairs radiators, which were just fine.

Finally, we broke through the upstairs chase, which is in our TV room on the other side of the kids’ bathroom wall. Opening that we found, Inception style, another chase. Yup, a chase within a chase. Here’s our guy busting open chase number two (the green boards) inside chase number one. Finally we could see some pipes, pooling water, etc. and soon enough spotted the leaky culprit.

So yay! Good news! But as with anything house related (or at least our-house-related) with the good comes the bad. Good news, leak found. Bad news, there is a structural beam that has largely rotted away in one corner due to said leak. This likely means that long before it became strong enough to notice the leak was slowly eating away at this beam.

Here’s a close up of the beam rot.  NOT what you want to see when you open a wall.

Other good news – we didn’t have to tear up the kids’ bathroom floor to find the leak’s source! Bad news, to fix the rotted beam and other shoddy plumbing issues we can see need fixing after tearing the wall open, we are going to have to renovate the kids’ bath while we do the kitchen.

Good news, we now have the chases open so can actually see what we’re dealing with in order to design the kitchen (if we can move plumbing, etc. to make space larger). Bad news, when they renovated the kitchen 20+ years ago they bumped out the side of the house slightly, and to do that they put in steel support beams. This means we can only gain about ten inches of space moving the plumbing, and that we won’t be able to get rid of the dropped ceiling I hate over where the stove is now (since a steel beam runs the length of that span, and for some inexplicable reason sits below the antique beam hidden by the drop ceiling. UGH).

More good news, our ceiling here was cement board, so it hadn’t gotten mold or anything.  There was some rotted wood from the beam, sure, but we wet-vac’d that up, and we don’t have a mold issue.  Though we did make a mess!

Ultimately, pretty much everything we discovered is going to cost me money. Replacing the plumbing pipes that are in horrible condition, poorly welded, etc. Fixing the structural beam. Renovating the bathroom. But the fact is that I would have had to deal with these things no matter what at some point. The leak was there, the beam was damaged, the plumbing was terrible, the kids’ bathroom has all kids of issues (broken vanity door fronts, hot water that gushes while cold barely comes out, toilet that clogs every 5th time you flush) … I just didn’t know about a lot of these problems before.

When the walls are open is the time to deal with this stuff. Sometimes it does feel like this kitchen reno is going to end up touching every other part of the house, though!

Here is the nice, pretty, repaired pipe!

Also, it doesn’t appear that there is water coming in when it rains. Which is weird because the leak always got so much worse when it rained that everyone (and by everyone I mean all visiting family and friends) thought I was nuts for thinking there was a plumbing leak at all, and that it was 100% attributable to weather. I mean, I thought it was both – a plumbing leak and an exterior leak. Because for real – every time it rained the leak got giant. BUT it is pouring today, and (fingers crossed) no new water. You guys, I HAVE NEVER BEEN SO HAPPY TO BE WRONG!