Robert Lamoureux: Holding your plumber accountable

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I have a home in Calabasas and about a year ago we had a plumbing leak. Our plumbing runs through the concrete so the plumber ripped out the concrete and did the pipe repair.

We put all the hardwood flooring back down and not long after that we noticed a musty smell, one of humidity. Being afraid that the pipe may have broken again, we went out and bought a moisture meter and tested the flooring.

Depending on the day, it is reading anywhere between 14 percent to 20 percent. It’s not showing 100 percent, so we’re not sure that the pipe is broken but these are high end wood floors and we need to get this figured out sooner rather than later.

It doesn’t feel wet but we can smell the humidity and of course it’s worse if we get down on the floor. There are no visible signs that it is wet but the smell and moisture meter tells us that there is an issue.

Do we need to rip out these floors again? How can we be sure that our home will be safe and undamaged?




It sounds like when the plumber demoed the concrete they broke through the visqueen which is a plastic 6ml or greater.

It’s likely that they made the plumbing repairs but did not repair the visqueen, and the symptoms that you are getting are due to the static pressure of humidity/moisture that is traveling through the concrete. I’ve seen this a time or two and am most certain that this is the source of the moisture.

You have two options: You can either live with it, which I don’t recommend because the moisture is a source for much more damage over the course of time; or you can go back to your plumber and begin the process of holding him accountable.

I do recommend that if you go this route that you document each and every step and use as many photos to state your claim. Hopefully, (the person responsible) will own the error, but you may have a challenge on your hands with this one.

The visqueen is a vital part of the original construction, keeping the moisture from the earth away from the building materials and ultimately, the interior of the homes. When that is compromised, this is a perfect example of what can happen. Given enough time that moisture will do plenty of damage, including potential mold growth.

Unfortunately, this will be a big one to tackle, but ultimately will be worth it.

You may even need to reach out to your insurance so that they can guide you through the process.

Good luck,


Robert Lamoureux has 38 years of experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contracting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Email questions to Robert at [email protected].

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