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Question DetailsAsked on 1/31/2018

water heater leaking after contractor moved it to repair wall behind it.

I asked my handyman to drywall the utility room. He had to move the water heat an inch over to drywall behind it. It started leaking two days later. He says it was bad/old soldering on the pipe. I say he touched it last so he needs to fix it. who is responsible?

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1 Answer


Well - putting aside the question of whether he would be violating the law by doing plumbing work, though for that minor a job most people would not worry about that, here is my take on this:
1) he had the option of saying the water heater needed to be moved to provide clearance (for drywall installation or just to maintain legal - manufacturer required - minimum water heater clearance, as might apply), and that it would cost you X dollars more to modify the piping to provide that additional clearance. Or if he did not want to do it or is not competent at soldering then he could have told you that you had to get it done by a plumber (probably about $100-180 range for that). 2) since he went ahead and moved it (apparently without modifying the piping, so it was evidently highly warped out of position and stressed, which presumably caused the joint leak) the time to do that (which should have been properly done by modifying/extending piping as needed to have stress-free pipe) would legitimately be charged to you as part of the job. Or if had given you a lump-sum bid then he should have either included that work in his bid, or atleat come back to you and told you he could not do the job as originally bid because of the clearance issue so it would take X $ more - not just shoved it over and stressed the pipe, which with 1 inch movement would be expected to crack even properly soldered joints or kink/crack the pipe so that was substandard work. 3) as you said, since he did do the water heater move, he should repair it or get it fixed - whether at added cost or not per 2) above. Most likely, in most cases, about a 10-20 minute job to unsolder probably 2-4 connections and either change/swap in new routing of angled 45's or 90's, or to cut in a stubout piece with coupling on each pipe to extend it, as works for that configuration. 4) if the leak is at a welded (as opposed to threaded) or stripped-thread fitting-to-tank connection because of moving it without disconnecting the pipes, not in the connecting piping joints, then he owes you an installed replacement water heater of same quality and capacity. Rare, but could happen. I also would take a look at the flue (if not electric) to see if it is intact or if he pulled it out of shape or possibly disconnected a joint to get that extra inch - direct vent plastic pipe should not be warped out of plane or straigth lengths visible curved or kinked and all joints should be in-line (not kinked) and properly glued. Sheet metal ducting should be round (not deformed out-of-round) and all joints should have 4 sheet metal screws in them. In most cases, because of the flexibility and variable angle capability of most sheet metal angle pieces, the angle and alignment can commonly be moved around an inch or two without changing nout ducting, so that part may be fine - be sure it sits snuggly and fully seated into the draft hood on top of the heater if it has one, and that the draft hood is centered on the water heater flue extension on top. One other thought - if required in your area, did he reposition and retighten any seismic restraint strapping, or just disconnect ot cut it ?

Answered 2 years ago by LCD

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