Reuben Saltzman

My kitchen disaster

I recently had a major water leak in my kitchen which turned into an expensive problem. But I could have avoided the whole mess had I followed my own blog’s advice. Check it out.

Back in 2019, I installed a point-of-use water heater below my kitchen sink. I did this to eliminate a long wait for hot water, which was both annoying and wasteful. I blogged about this last year in Hot water faster. Life was great… until it wasn’t.

The Leak

I came downstairs one morning to find water on the floor in front of my kitchen sink, and standing water inside the base cabinet. I cleared everything out to find the source of the leak, and finally discovered that it was the water heater itself. It wasn’t the T&P valve, it wasn’t one of the connections to the water heater… it was leaking right out of the middle of the unit.

I quickly turned the water off and took a very short video clip showing the location of the leak.

Leaking water heater extended

I cleaned up the water and bypassed the plumbing to the water heater so I’d still have hot water at my kitchen faucet, annoyed that I had to deal which such as hassle before my morning coffee. Ha! That was just the tip of the iceberg.

I did my usual morning routine, then headed downstairs for my morning workout about an hour later to find this:

Wet ceiling

Wet floor

Apparently, the water heater had been leaking all night. The ceiling was saturated, the laminate flooring below the workout mats was soaked, and there was a lot of water in the wall. I contacted a water restoration company at that point, and they tore stuff apart and used commercial dryers for several days to help prevent future mold issues.

Water damage in basement

To get the room restored back to its original condition, I had to have the entire floor covering replaced, the drywall and insulation replaced on one wall, the ceiling redone, the room repainted, and a bunch of work completed in the kitchen as well. The project took way longer than it should have (that’s another story), but the bottom line is that this room was unusable for nearly six months. I paid a large insurance deductible and spent a ridiculous amount of time dealing with all of this.

Don’t be like me

Plumber Joe on my team (now a home inspector) blogged about how to prevent disasters like this a couple of years ago, under his guest post Automatic water leak protection. He installed a Guardian Leak Protection system at his house, which automatically turns off the water to your house if you have a problem.

I used to say that I’m not as paranoid as Joe, but I’m starting to think that I’m just not as experienced as Joe. Had I spent $300 for one of these systems and invested an hour of my time to install it, I could have avoided this entire mess. You better believe I have one of these systems installed today, along with leak detectors below my kitchen sink, dishwasher, refrigerator, and washing machine.

4 responses to “My kitchen disaster”

  1. Bruce Smith
    December 7, 2021, 12:22 pm

    Did you install another mini water heater below the sink; if so did you put a drain pan below the water heater and a the leak detector. Or did you plumb in a ‘recirculate’ system with the valve under the sink and the timer control and pump above the water heater? Or did you just run water at the sink like you use to until it gets hot?

    If you built a new home, and water heater was far from kitchen sink. Might be worth installing three pipe PEX system with circulating hot water line. I once inspected a new hotel in Fargo that had a four pipe water system to each room. Typically only see that in high end restaurant kitchens. Owner of hotel wanted each room to have instant hot water and cold water in every room. Expensive

    Love the Blog. When I have the time I listen to the podcast.

  2. Reuben Saltzman
    December 7, 2021, 3:53 pm

    Hi Bruce,

    Yes, I installed another water heater and made a custom pan for the water heater, but I did not install a drain. That would have required a drain line to be run through a large section of finished space. Instead, I put the water sensor inside the pan.


    December 7, 2021, 6:44 pm

    I picked up a three sensor kit around $40 that connects to my phone through our wifi that will notify me if there is a water leak.

  4. Reuben Saltzman
    December 8, 2021, 6:48 am

    Thank you for sharing, Leon. Do you have a link?

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