It is very common for inspectors to find indications moisture in the floor around toilets. This is usually from poorly installed or leaking wax seals that connect the toilet to the drain under the toilet. Often there is no visual indication of leaking and inspectors will rely on moisture meters to scan the area around toilets.
If you have vinyl flooring in your bathroom, you sometimes can see the signs of leaking in the discolored vinyl flooring around the base of the toilet. This staining can be from past or present leaking but if you, as the tenant of the home, know the history of the toilet and know that there didn’t used to be any staining—-you can pretty much bet there is a leak if you have watched the stain get bigger.
These same sorts of stains can develop at tub and shower areas as well.
The picture to the left is a classic example of this staining—-and was backed up by moisture meter as well.
The area of the sub-floor that is actually wet may be larger than what is described by the stain or may not be wet at all if the water is moving between layers of flooring. What happens is that the moisture wets the paper backing on the vinyl (as well as the adhesives used) and it becomes discolored. It is this discoloration that one is seeing through the more transparent surface of the vinyl.
These sorts of leaks, left un-fixed, can result in decay/rot in the sub-floor and should be attended to immediately when found. By the time the stains show—the water has been there for quite a while already.
Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
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