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Old 12-14-2010, 09:23 AM   #1
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Bathtub Drain Leak Help!


Hello, this is my first post and I sure can use some help.
Here is the scenario
My bathtub drain leaks at the seal around the shoe (the little elbow with the flange on it that is on the bottom of the tub that the drain screen in the tub screws into)but only at specific times and I have not been able to recreate the leak.
It doesn't leak when the tub isn't being used
It doesn't leak when the shower is being used
It doesn't leak if I fill the tub with cold water and let it sit.
It doesn't leak when I drain the tub.
It doesn't leak if I fill the tub with warm water and let it sit.
It only leaks if one of my daughters or my wife takes a hot bath.
There is no overflow screen in my tub so the only place it could be leaking from is the drain because I put a pan directly under the drain under the tub and it fills up with water.
This is what I replaced so far...
I replaced the gasket that goes under the tub between the shoe and the tub bottom flange.
I originally put another gasket inside the tub between the tub drain and the tub but it elevated the drain and the tub leaked.
I then found out that was incorrect so I removed the gasket and used plummers putty. I ran the shower for a while. Bone Dry. I filled the tub with cold water and let it sit for an hour. Bone Dry. I drained the tub. Bone Dry. I thought I had it fixed. My daughter went up and took a hot bubble bath and when she was done I ran in the bathroom and checked the drain behind the tub and the pan I put under it just for safety had at least 16 ounces of water in it. I then unscrewed the drain and put alot more plummers putty around the drain hole and around the drain flange and screwed the drain back into the tub. I took a shower today and it was bone dry but I suspect as soon as somebody takes a hot bath its going to leak again.
I checked for cracks in the tub. There are none. I even had my wife walk around the tub while it was filled up with water and the tub is completely solid with no cracks or movement.
Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

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Old 12-14-2010, 09:40 AM   #2
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Bathtub Drain Leak Help!


on the underside of the tub, between the shoe and tub should be a rubber gasket, on the inside of the tub would be the flange that screws into the shoe this should have plumbers putty, are all these parts installed?

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Old 12-14-2010, 10:18 AM   #3
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Bathtub Drain Leak Help!


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Originally Posted by Ltnicks View Post
on the underside of the tub, between the shoe and tub should be a rubber gasket, on the inside of the tub would be the flange that screws into the shoe this should have plumbers putty, are all these parts installed?
Yes to both. I put a new gasket between the shoe and the tub and the flange that screws into the shoe is sealed with plumbers putty.
They are all installed and tight. Bottom of tub where the gasket goes is flat and smooth. Shoe flange is flat and smooth.
The flange that screws into the shoe is loaded with plumbers putty and its seated into the tub perfectly.
Also, the shoe is dead center to the drain hole in the tub.
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Old 12-14-2010, 10:40 AM   #4
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Bathtub Drain Leak Help!


I think we ruled out the drain.

you said it leaks when someone takes a bath, so to clarify do they take a bath or a shower?
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Old 12-14-2010, 10:41 AM   #5
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Bathtub Drain Leak Help!


If you can take some pictures of the setup, that may help.
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Old 12-14-2010, 10:46 AM   #6
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Bathtub Drain Leak Help!


So far you did the most obvious drain fixes. I am assuming you cleaned out the old plumbers putty before you applied the new. The other thing you might try is to look at the actual drain when you unscrew it again to see if it has any hairline cracks or if it is dirty. If so you should replace it and see if that solves your problem. If this did not take care of the problem and the leak is still noticed you will have no choice but to call a professional because we are dealing with another type of leak causing element.
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Old 12-14-2010, 11:07 AM   #7
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Bathtub Drain Leak Help!


another common leak that I am trying to rule out is a leak in the shower valve escuchen. running the shower will not show the leak, but when someone takes a shower the water splashes off them and on the wall, run the shower splashing the plumbing wall then check to see if water leaked. if so then take off the escuchen and put a bead of silicone around the hole
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Old 12-14-2010, 11:29 AM   #8
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another common leak that I am trying to rule out is a leak in the shower valve escuchen. running the shower will not show the leak, but when someone takes a shower the water splashes off them and on the wall, run the shower splashing the plumbing wall then check to see if water leaked. if so then take off the escuchen and put a bead of silicone around the hole

Thanks for the replies so far. There is no leaks in the shower valves.
When the tub is used for showering there is abaolutely no leaks whatsover anywhere. I even tried turning on the shower, pulling off the shower head (its on a flexible hose) and aiming it directly at the tiled wall and even directly into the drain and no leaks at all. Bone dry.
The only time the tub drain leaks is when somebody takes a hot bath.
I have tried to recreated it by filling the tub several times and letting it sit and then draining it and I can't get even a single drop of water to leak.
I even had somebody standing and walking around in the tub while it was full. It didn't leak a drop.
Also.. its positively leaking out of the tub drain because I put a baking pan underneath it and the pan had an inch of water in it after my daughter took a bath. Nothing else was wet.
My tub has a large access door to get to all the plumbing so everything is very easily accessable.
In case anybody asks.. my tub does not have a overflow drain and the spout where the water enters the tub is not leaking at all. The leak is coming from the drain under the tub and it only leaks when somebody takes a hot bath. If I had to guess.. I would say my tub is at least 40 years old. Its in great shape but its old. All the pipes that connecto to it are copper or standard steel threaded water pipes. It would be very easy to replace the entire shoe, threaded drain in the tub and the horizontal drain pipe connected to the vertical drain pipe but I don't want to make matters worse. I just can't figure out why it leaks only when a hot bath is being used.
At first I thought it was this..
The plumbers putty wore out and when somebody took a hot bath the hot water would soften up the already worn out putty and cause a leak because the rubber gasket under the tub was shot too.
So, I cleaned everything up nice, installed a new gasket and new plumbers putty. Bone dry for showers and after I filled the tub with cold water and let it sit for an hour.
Then.. somebody took a hot bath. I ran upstairs afterwards and the pan I put under the drain shoe had at least 16 ounces of water in it.
I unscrewed the drain and got out the plumbers putty and molded it around the drain opening in the tub (its a beveled hole down to the shoe) and I added a bunch more to the bezel around the drain cover itself and screwed it in. I whole bunch of putty squeezed out around the drain when I tightened it down. That was after midnight last night. I took a shower this morning and of course the pan was bone dry. When I get home tonight I will check after somebody takes a hot bath. If it leaks again I suppose I will need to replace the entire shoe, horizontal pipe and the drain in the tub. I am a little nervous replacing it though because my tub is so old and I am not sure if the new drains will fit properly.
Go figure...
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Old 12-14-2010, 11:32 AM   #9
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Bathtub Drain Leak Help!


When someone tales a bath, is there a leak before the drain's stopper is removed/opened? Or only once water is running down the drain?
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Old 12-14-2010, 11:44 AM   #10
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Bathtub Drain Leak Help!


BTW, the correct term for what you are calling a "shoe" is a "waste elbow", see for example: Replacement Parts for Brass Bathtub Drains.
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Old 12-14-2010, 12:13 PM   #11
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Bathtub Drain Leak Help!


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When someone tales a bath, is there a leak before the drain's stopper is removed/opened? Or only once water is running down the drain?
Good question. I will check that out tonight.
I know that when I filled the tub several times to check it it didn't leak at all whether the stopper was on or if the tub was draining. I let the tub sit full of water for over an hour and then drained it with not a single drop of water leaking. My daughter took a hot bath and directly after she got out I ran in the bathroom and checked it out and there was 16 ounces of water at least in the pan I put under the drain.
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Old 12-14-2010, 12:18 PM   #12
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Bathtub Drain Leak Help!


I'm guessing it has something to do with the weight of a person in the tub while it's draining. Perhaps it's flexing the tub just enough so that the gasket isn't sealing.
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Old 12-14-2010, 12:33 PM   #13
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Bathtub Drain Leak Help!


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I'm guessing it has something to do with the weight of a person in the tub while it's draining. Perhaps it's flexing the tub just enough so that the gasket isn't sealing.
I thought so too, thats why I had my wife and my daughter at 2 seperate occasions stand and walk around the tub when it was filled with water. No leaks at all.
I think it has something to do with the hot water affecting the plumbers putty around the screw in drain in the tub.
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Old 12-14-2010, 12:37 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by LateralConcepts View Post
I'm guessing it has something to do with the weight of a person in the tub while it's draining. Perhaps it's flexing the tub just enough so that the gasket isn't sealing.
+1
Just what I was thinking. If it's not a cast iron tub, is it set on a bed of cement/mortar? If not it sounds like the bottom is flexing during baths.
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Old 12-14-2010, 12:52 PM   #15
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[quote=Homerepairguy;551026]+1
Just what I was thinking. If it's not a cast iron tub, is it set on a bed of cement/mortar? If not it sounds like the bottom is flexing during baths.[/quote

Its a cast iron tub. Its set on a bed of mortar and it has reinforcement legs that extend out of all 4 corners that bolt to the floor. Its very secure and it doesn't appear to flex at all.
Its possible that I just didn't use enough plumbers putty the first time.
The first time I rolled a nice 1/4" round tube of it and molded it round the screw in drain where the bezel meets the threaded area. It leaked.
Last night I added another 1/$" round tube of it around the bezel and I took another 1/2" tube of it and molded it around the inside of the tub where the elbow meets the drain hole and molded it up towards the floor of the tub. I then screwed the drain in and a bunch of putty squeezed out. I wiped the excess off and took a shower. No leak as usual. The true test is when somebody takes a bath today. I have a catch pan under the drain just in case.

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