Would You Complain About Repairs on Home You Just Bought? To Whom?

This probably falls into the category of “that’s the way the mop flops”, but I thought I’d ask around just in case.

We purchased our home in late January of this year. Had it inspected (we spent the afternoon with the husband/wife team doing it), had a lawyer go over the purchase agreement, and honestly tried to read every single document scrupulously. It came with a warranty, so that gave me some peace of mind.

I missed a big detail, though.

The warranty doesn’t include the septic.
Nor does it include the well water system.

So we just spent $500 to diagnose and then replace the water pressure tank, which was shot.

But the well pump is STILL going off several times an hour, for no apparent reason. Since I can’t find a leak inside the house, we’re thinking it’s either under the house (I went into the crawl space on inspection day & there weren’t any puddles) OR maybe there’s a backflow valve associated with the pump that’s failed. If we need a new pump, that’ll be around $900-1,500.

The well’s right next to the deck, hopefully we won’t have to have it ripped out in order to get this diagnosed.

Not sure if any part of this will fall into the category “plumbing”, which IS on the warranty; hopefully they’ll be out to look at it today.

So I’m thinking the next time our Realtor sends me one of her perky emails, I’m probably within my rights to mention these issues.

Should I expect her to give a rat’s ass?
What about the home inspector?
Or the sellers - should they have “known”, and does it matter? They signed a disclosure saying everything here was okey-dokey.
I realize that with husbands and wives, sons and daughters serving in Iraq, this little matter is pretty small potatoes; we’re truly grateful for this home, it’s exactly what we’ve always wanted.

It’s just a little scary to be spending large chunks of money on repairs so soon, and we don’t want to be taken advantage of if we can help it.

As long as there’s airspace above the well and the well company can get their truck into position to yank the pump it you shouldn’t have to worry about your deck. The worst is you might have tire tracks in your yard.

Most home sales are in the ‘as is’ category. That’s why you ask for disclosure and have an inspection. The sellers are off the hook once you sign.

You might be able to bitch to your inspector but I don’t know how far you’d get. If it’s something that SHOULD have been picked up during the inspection there might be something to do about it.

Your realtor’s job isn’t to guarantee the house’s condition. It’s to find you a house you want, negotiate a price, and move the process through to completion. So that’s out as well.

Good luck! I had a balky septic and water system for a while in my last house. It can be a pain in the butt, I know.

By the same token, don’t call your mortagage lender if you have one. :wink: My sister in law is a mortgage lender (broker?) and gets calls from her clients at all hours of the nights when something goes wrong, like she’s their landlord.

Good luck with the new house!

You seem to be under the impression your agent is/was somehow retailing the house to you and should offer a warranty. The real estate agent is merely an agent facilitating the purchase. The condition and inspection issues are not her responsibility as long as there was no material misrepresentation regarding the house condition by her, to the extent she had specific knowledge of that condition.

I am puzzled in that you don’t seem to indicate a specific well & septic test was done. Well and septic tests & certifications are (in many areas - not all) a standard of the process in order to get a bank loan for a residential purchase.

Unless the home inspection specifically included the septic system in the items they were checking there’s no traction there. Many home inspectors do not check or certify well & septic systems. There are separate testing services for those.

If it can be proved they had specific knowledge of the incipient failure of the septic you might have a case. Failing that proving what they “knew” might be difficult.

Given that you’ve closed on the property and that W&S systems do occasionally fail to of the blue you’re pretty much SOL. The only possible leverage I can see is if your agent (esp if they were a “Buyer’s agent”) failed to inform you of the advisability or necessity of a well & septic test, but given the differences in state RE laws, and the current housing market where sellers are chasing houses this might not be a required item in your area. If your contract called for checking the W&S as a contingency, and you did not do this and went to settlement you’re going to have a hard time making a case for damages or compensation.

One reason I’m not a big fan of home inspections is they expressly disclaim any liability for the accuracy (or lack thereof) of their inspection. Don’t expect any recourse there.
And the homeowners would likely only be liable if they knew of a defect and failed to disclose it.
Don’t know anything about home warranties.
Welcome to the joys of home ownership, where expensive things break and need to be fixed/replaced.

Sounds like a good plumber is needed in order to properly find the leak. You’d certainly want to do that before digging up the septic.

Septic systems are usually explicitely not covered by home inspectors or the like (at least that’s what the home inspector I hired when I moved told me).

They tested the well and septic (I don’t think this is a septic problem, merely mentioned that it is excluded from the warranty along with the well). I guess the test boils down to “yup, you’ve got one.” :lol:

Actually, they did test for e. Coli (or is it E. coli?) and found none. Ran the sinks full-bore (the house had been empty), flushed all the toilets, and looked at the plumbing and water lines under the house.

For the septic it involved blue dye and looking for water in the yard.

And yes, I mentioned the Realtor in the context of misrepresentation - she was the Seller’s agent as well (don’t hit me, I didn’t realize we’d started a “relationship” with her by calling the name on the yard sign & having her show the house; when I tried to switch to another agent shortly thereafter, I was informed it would be unethical).

It just seems strange that things would malfunction so soon. C’est la vie, at least we love the house!

While I tried really hard to do my homework, apparently I didn’t quite do the Right homework.

Mortgage lender - hah! Don’t even get me started! Every single document we signed had errors. I wore myself out fighting with them over that.

You need to give a location. States and manicipalities all have different policies on homes. Some require that the items like sewer beds and wells are not ready to fail. The county clerk or registor of deeds should be able steer you to the person to ask.

It’s not all that unusual. THis may not be your scenario but if a well or well pump is not in great shape, but has a low rate of demand (ie one person or two older people vs a family) it can loaf along and still be functional. When the new demand comes online the system goes over the tipping point into failure mode. It happens all the time when older houses are sold.

When we bought our current house, we had a 90 day warrantee on pretty much everything (including the septic pump). I swear, it was only a few days, maybe a week at the most, after the warrantee expired when the plumbing under the sink went to crap. At that point it was like ok, I own it, I fix it, but thanks Mr. Murphy.

The only thing we were able to come back on the seller for was the roof. One of our agreements when buying the house was that I demanded that they certified that the roof would last another 15 years, otherwise I wasn’t going to accept the selling price (there were a few other conditions in there as well). Someone had done repairs on the roof and forgotten to install a piece of flashing, and the roof leaked in the next rain storm. Since the roof certification was part of our contract of sale, I was able to get the seller to pay for the roof repairs. Fortunately, the seller didn’t fight me on it. If the seller doesn’t want to pay for something, your only recourse is to sue them.

For anything else that’s not covered by the warrantee or isn’t spelled out in your contract, well, that’s the joy of owning your own house. As you said, that’s the way the mop flops.

I don’t know if you have a sand mount septic system or an old fashioned conventional type of system, but if you have a sand mount then you have a pump in the septic system also. You may be already aware of this, but just in case you’re not, septic pumps and well pumps are prone to getting killed by nearby lightning strikes, and these usually aren’t covered in the warrantee. Keep a bit of money on hand for pump replacement, because eventually you are going to need it.

Glad you like your new house! Congrats!

In response to your thread title, most likely yes, and to anyone who would listen!
Heck, might even start a thread on a message board… :wink:

I don’t have much to say about the compliants department but I do know wells and water pumps very well. It is what my business/family does. I’m third generation.

If you give me some more details I might be able to give you some advise. Is it a submersable pump(down in the well) or a jet pump(in the house or sometimes a well pit.) Depth of well? If it is under 300 feet(with your estimate I highly doubt it is) it is usualy not nessesary to get heavy equipment in all you need is open air directly above the well. If it is under the deck you’d probly only need to remove a couple boards.

Thanks for the replies, commiseration and speculation! Dinsdale - ;-).

boytyperanma, thanks so much for your time and attention! I’ll go ahead and detail today’s visit -

The plumber spent about an hour and a half looking all over for a leak & couldn’t find one. Went into the crawl space, examined the ground outside, spent a bunch of time in the furnace room, checked the outside hose. Said he couldn’t hear anything. But he agreed that there is a slow leak, I think it’s losing 3 lbs of pressure a couple of times an hour? The pump goes off night & day, I’ve probably learned to tune it out but it seems to run for 3-10 seconds every 20-30 minutes.

So he’s coming back on Tuesday with a helper & they’re going to pull out the pump (it’s outside, next to the deck, so I’m guessing that’s submersable) and check it for cracks/leaks/whatever. He mentioned that it’s probably 125 feet down, and he wouldn’t need a truck, he’s willing to pull it. Which I appreciate, we’ve got lots of plants & trees that we adore. He said the problem might be in the pipe, or the vinyl connection (something like that). Verbal estimate $425-$600 (depending on parts) and that includes today’s time.

When I install a pressure tank I always install a check valve near the base of the tank. If they did this it should be easy to determine if your losing presure in the house or outside the house. Inside the house it tends to be a leaking toilet or such. If it is leaking in the well or between the house and the well the tank presure wouldn’t be going down. If you do not have a check in the house have one put in. Then even if the check in the well has failed it solves the problem without pulling the pump out of the well.

Many things in this picture are not making sense to me. The setting on a pressure switch should vary at least 15 pounds of pressure. Most are set with a 20 pound range(30-50, 40-60 ect) that means the pump turns on when it gets down to 30 and turns off when it gets up to 50. So if you are losing “3 lbs of pressure a couple of times an hour” the pump should only be turning on every 3 hours if you use no water.

How much presure can the pump make? It should be set at a specific range it sounds like it is making the upper range to shut it off. They can manualy trip the switch to force the pump to push beyond that. I don’t know what size pump you have but most could make 80-90 pounds if it can do that odds are it isn’t leaking in the well or between.

The prices that you are getting quoted are very low in my opinion. I am on the upper end of cost as far as these things are concerned. Many companies do a decent job for less then me but when they aren’t even half of my cost it raises a red flag to me. If they have determined its leaking in the well the most common place for it to leak is the pump itself of the adaptor right above it. In many cases this requires the pump being replaced. The pumps I install range from $600-$1200 alone. There are alot of less expensive pumps but even them wouldn’t fall within a $400-$600 estimate. For me to replace everything in the well, pipe, wire, pump, check, torks and labor would be $1800-$2600 Depending on the quality of what was used previously some things can be reused.

You keep refering this person as a plumber. Is he a plumber trying to help you out and possibly going outside his expertise? I am not a plumber. I can conceptionaly plumb a house but I don’t pretend to be a expert source of knowledge in that area. I only go to just past the presure tank. Generaly I’m refered to as a pump man or well guy. License wise I’m a well driller.

Most things of this sort you can chalk up to the joys of home ownership.

You may have recourse if the seller’s disclosure had an intentional untruth or omission. The omissions may be hard to prove.

You may also have recourse against the home inspector if he/she gave you a report that had bad information, disclaimer be damned.

In any case, you would probably have to sue (or at least threaten it). If the dollar amount gets real high, it might be worth getting an attorney’s opinion for a small fee.

In most cases, the realtor has exactly the same information about a house that the buyer is given. For this reason alone, I would not fault the realtor.

Home inspectors are a free-lance operation, with little, if any, oversight. You can use the results of the inspection as part of the negotiation, but you can’t really attack them if they miss something critical.

I think that buying a new house is a learning experience, and that it may take 2-3 attempts before you really understand the ins and outs.

We bought our first (and current) house about seven years ago, and can relate the following:

  1. Within a few months of buying the house, we noticed that one part of the roof was sagging considerably. We called in “roof guys” who found serious compromises in the roof support system in that area–something that was not noted in the inspection notes. We ended up paying for roof replacement in that part of the roof.

  2. A tree in our backyard was seriously ill. We noticed a few dead limbs when we moved in, and a year or so later, we called in a tree surgeon to look at it. By that point, the top third of the tree was dead, although there is nothing in the home inspection about this at all. The tree people gave us a quote on removing the tree completely. Less than a week later, a storm knocked down the top of the tree, which came within inches of destroying part of the house. We had the tree completely removed, at a cost of $900, about a week later.

  3. Our house is primarily wired with aluminum, rather than copper, which was noted in the house inspection documents. While this is not a huge issue if you know about it, it appears that at least one of the former owners of the house was not aware of this, and several of the most commonly-used outlets and switches were replaced with CU-rated outlets/switches. We have had a few outlets/switches fail or overheat, but we have been scrupulous about getting AL/CU-rated switches/outlets to replace them. However, the house inspection makes absolutely no note of the fact that the after-market-rebuilt basement is wired with copper, with no grounded outlets.

  4. We did have an issue with leakage from one of the first-floor bathrooms into the basement, and the sale of the house was dependent on having this problem fixed. While the leakage was fixed before we actually signed the contract, we started having the same problems a few months later. It turned out to be a case of poorly laid caulking. The problem was fixed temporarily just before the sale, but it re-emerged a couple of monts later. Recaulking the bathroom solved most of the probelsm, though.

The lack of sense is probably due more to my poor description and recall than anything else; I was on the phone during the plumber’s entire visit, regarding various family crises (when it rains, it pours!).

Actually, he probably said that it dropped 3 lbs of pressure while he was sitting there watching it.

I will definitely ask about the check valve, as well as your other questions. Thank you for your explanation!

Since I was hoping that this truly was a plumbing problem (and thus covered by the home warranty), I had to call the warranty company and use the plumber with whom they have a relationship. So no, I didn’t call around town or get a personal recommendation on this company. I don’t know exactly what his or the company’s qualifications are; I was just using “plumber” as a likely term, but I don’t truly know.

And BTW, this is NOT the same company that replaced our water pressure tank earlier this week (b/c since the water pressure tank isn’t on the warranty anyway, I used someone from the phone book). The price on that job was $400 installed, plus another $100 for the prior visit during which the faulty pressure tank was diagnosed. Its bladder had failed & this guy said it was at only 9 psi. I do believe that it was faulty, b/c after the initial visit, when the guy emptied it out but didn’t replace it, I could tell that the well pump was working much harder.

I will ask those follow-up questions on Monday.

I hope I’m making better sense here - it’s 2:00 a.m. and I simply cannot sleep!

Oh, and I should explain, we live in a smallish town in Central Indiana, so our labor costs are probably significantly lower. I know that getting our cars repaired just got a whole lot cheaper vs. Chicagoland!

It’s been many years since I worked on well systems, but I’d suggest you check the pressure tank for air leaks before doing anything else. You said that a new tank was recently installed and you can’t find any water leaks. If the air, or most of it, leaks out of the pressure tank it will cause the pump to cycle too frequently. Just check all the fitting w/ a soap/water solution, even a small leak will form bubbles. It should only take a few minutes and might save you a lot of money.

Okay, I have an update & another question, if anyone’s still willing to listen…

Today the plumber and his assistant replaced the whole shebang (oh, and we folowed your suggestions for air leaks, A.R. Cane, and asked more questions as per boytyperanma – thanks!!).

So…$1500 later, and no more KA-brrrrrrrrr garbage disposal-type sound every 30 minutes. This is good. Our bank account…not so much.

Okay now here’s the thing, and I’d forgotten this ---- we found out, months ago, that on the day we were here to inspect this house, the water softener was hooked up backwards!

Now, this was not the same water softener that the Sellers had been using during their years in this house (which we knew) - they owned a fancy $5k something-or-other unit & took it with them when they moved out. They purchased a cheaper unit and had it installed by Culligan, and apparently Culligan didn’t hook it up properly!

The in and out had been reversed!

So, it’s a wonder we had any water at all on inspection day, it’s a puzzle to me how that happened.

What I remember clearly is sitting in the family room on inspection day & chatting and the house was completely silent, never heard the distinctive “kabrrrrrrrrr” of the old pump running at all, never mind it running every 20-30 minutes as it has been since we moved in! Since it’s a sound we’ve heard from Day 1, it never occurred to us that it indicated a problem.

I asked the plumber today if the backwards install would’ve prevented us from detecting the problem & he said absolutely.

So now we feel like that old Beavis & Butthead…

We are going to sue…the Sellers
We are going to sue…the Realtor
We are going to sue…Culligan
Seriously – anybody had any similar experiences? Whaddya think?