One of the things most inspectors have in their inspection reports goes something like this, “Tub overflows are not tested, due to the high likelihood that they may leak.”
Now logically, one might think, “Well if they are going to leak, wouldn’t I want to know about it?”
Yes you would.
Inspectors generally are still not going to test these things in the context of a home inspection because the area of leaking is usually not accessible. The result of testing—-which would mean filling the tub high enough to run out the overflow—-would result in leaking into the wall/floor structures where it might do damage to these areas.
If you could look up at the gasket from below (sometimes if the basement is not finished off you can do this), you might be able to see way up in there and see the gasket as shown in this picture. Note how some of the gasket is missing/deteriorated?
What would testing accomplish—-except to show that water does in fact drain through the overflow? Could we then assume that all or some portion of the water was actually going down the drain?
The gasket between the tub and the drain attachment is a rubber type material that becomes very brittle with age and eventually cracks and even falls out of place. I am not sure why they can’t make a gasket for this location that will last more than 5 years, but they don’t seem to—-that I am aware of. This gasket should be replaced at least every 5 years because of this problem. I can think of no scenario where if water goes down the tub drain itself it would not also go down the overflow and into the drain. It is not likely that the overflow itself would ever become blocked with anything—-given how seldom it is used. In other words, “functional” testing is pretty much a waste of time, whereas replacement of the gasket periodically would actually accomplish something.
If you have been living in your house for 10 years and the gasket has never been replaced—-IT LEAKS, no need to test it.
—just change it! If y0u click on the smiley face below I will even show you how easily it “can” be done (your experience may vary).
Make your tub overflow with happiness!
Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
If you enjoyed this post, and would like to get notices of new posts to my blog, please subscribe via email in the little box to the right. I promise NO spamming of your email