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Old 10-09-2011, 02:36 PM   #1
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"Invisible" leak in bathroom...


Multifamily house; the plumbing for the 3rd floor tub/shower exists above the 2nd floor master BR. After tearing down the BR ceiling for unrelated reasons, I discovered that the 3rd floor bath has been leaking for a very long time (long enough to turn the piece of hardwood floor onto which the leak is falling black). The cast iron pipes still exist, but were replaced with ABS some time ago (I just purchased the 99-yr-old home in August).

It's a relatively modern tub (ex. not cast iron). The current tenant says the "tub" sometimes "makes a creaking noise." The bathroom has a splash guard between the wall and the tub, so water is not spilling over the side of the tub and seeping through the floor directly. I re-caulked where the faucet emerges from the wall, as that was loose...but the leak still exists.

It would appear as though water is somehow getting onto the top lip of the tub (in the wall), running to the front edge, and then running down the wood in the wall. Once the wood is saturated, the water starts falling onto the ceiling below.

My dad and I have had our heads jammed up into the floor looking for the leak for about 60 combined minutes so far with a variety of flashlights and groping around with our hands. I took a 15 minute shower while Pops looked/felt around, and he couldn't feel any water on the top lip of the tub (despite watching water fall at the same time)...so perhaps that theory is partially disproved. It doesn't appear as though any pipe is leaky, or that any part of the tub is cracked...

I've also recaulked the "splash guard," and the faucet's knob (as well as the faucet a 2nd time). I haven't yet recaulked the front edge of the tub, but again dad couldn't feel any water up there so I'm not sure whether that's worthwhile.

I'm at a loss. I'm trying to avoid calling in a plumber who also can't see any leak, and redoing the entire 3rd floor bath (or cutting a hole in the 3rd floor bedroom wall to access the back of the shower, as I have tenants there right now). Any ideas for other possible things to check, or solutions?

Attached is a rudimentary drawing...unfortunately I am without a decent camera right now.
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"Invisible" leak in bathroom...-tub.jpg  

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Old 10-09-2011, 03:19 PM   #2
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"Invisible" leak in bathroom...


Does it only leak when taking a shower, and not when the tub is used ?
If so it could be the riser going from the faucet to the shower head.

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Old 10-09-2011, 03:58 PM   #3
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"Invisible" leak in bathroom...


What's behind the shower Wall? Anything? Firewall, closet, bedroom, is the tub tiled or 3 or 4 piece tub?

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Old 10-09-2011, 06:33 PM   #4
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"Invisible" leak in bathroom...


Quote:
Originally Posted by AlbacoreShuffle View Post
Does it only leak when taking a shower, and not when the tub is used ?
If so it could be the riser going from the faucet to the shower head.
No one takes baths, so I'm going to go with shower only. That suggestion was made by someone else as well; will have to look again at that pipe.

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What's behind the shower Wall? Anything? Firewall, closet, bedroom, is the tub tiled or 3 or 4 piece tub?
Bedroom; hence my hoping to avoid tearing down that wall. The tub is tiled.
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Old 10-09-2011, 06:57 PM   #5
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"Invisible" leak in bathroom...


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mustang
No one takes baths, so I'm going to go with shower only. That suggestion was made by someone else as well; will have to look again at that pipe.

Bedroom; hence my hoping to avoid tearing down that wall. The tub is tiled.
Ok is there a closet in bedroom behind shower wall.
Did you check the shower head from shower make shore not travailing back be behind wall?
It could be the adapter the shower are comes out of.

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Old 10-09-2011, 07:17 PM   #6
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"Invisible" leak in bathroom...


Quote:
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Ok is there a closet in bedroom behind shower wall.
Did you check the shower head from shower make shore not travailing back be behind wall?
It could be the adapter the shower are comes out of.
No, the shower wall is adjacent to the bedroom wall. BR closet is across the room.

I have not removed the shower head yet. Another forum suggested this, which I will try tomorrow: Remove the the tub spout and the shower head and cap the shower arm and the nipple stubbed out for the tub spout. Then turn on the Valve.
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Old 10-09-2011, 08:55 PM   #7
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"Invisible" leak in bathroom...


Quote:
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No, the shower wall is adjacent to the bedroom wall. BR closet is across the room.

I have not removed the shower head yet. Another forum suggested this, which I will try tomorrow: Remove the the tub spout and the shower head and cap the shower arm and the nipple stubbed out for the tub spout. Then turn on the Valve.
I would say cap the tub spout first.

Then turn on valve to fill shower riser with water.

Then turn off valve.

cap shower head.

Turn valve back on.

This will ensure that you don't miss a small leak due to the fact that the riser will be completely full of air at first.

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Old 10-09-2011, 09:41 PM   #8
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"Invisible" leak in bathroom...


Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan

I would say cap the tub spout first.

Then turn on valve to fill shower riser with water.

Then turn off valve.

cap shower head.

Turn valve back on.

This will ensure that you don't miss a small leak due to the fact that the riser will be completely full of air at first.

He is still going to have to look behind back wall with this method no?

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Old 10-09-2011, 10:00 PM   #9
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He is still going to have to look behind back wall with this method no?

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Not necessarily. If this method produces the leak he is seeing, then he's going to have to tear apart the wall to make the repair anyway

If the leak doesn't occur while performing this test, no wall demolition is needed at this time, and we can move on to a different test.

To the OP, have you checked the overflow on the tub? Sometimes people turn them upside down to "increase water level in the tub" which doesn't work anyway, and usually the only thing that it does is cause the overflow to leak when someone is bathing OR showering. I'm not choosing this problem as my guess, due to the fact that you say it's hitting the top surface of the tub before tracking down.

The other thing that commonly occurs is that the tub spout (if it's one with an o-ring) gets a tear in the o ring during installation, and as someone is showering, the water is blowing past the o ring and straight through the hole in the wall. I hope for your sake that it's THIS, as you won't need to demo anything to make the repair.

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Old 10-09-2011, 10:10 PM   #10
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"Invisible" leak in bathroom...


Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan

Not necessarily. If this method produces the leak he is seeing, then he's going to have to tear apart the wall to make the repair anyway

If the leak doesn't occur while performing this test, no wall demolition is needed at this time, and we can move on to a different test.

To the OP, have you checked the overflow on the tub? Sometimes people turn them upside down to "increase water level in the tub" which doesn't work anyway, and usually the only thing that it does is cause the overflow to leak when someone is bathing OR showering. I'm not choosing this problem as my guess, due to the fact that you say it's hitting the top surface of the tub before tracking down.

The other thing that commonly occurs is that the tub spout (if it's one with an o-ring) gets a tear in the o ring during installation, and as someone is showering, the water is blowing past the o ring and straight through the hole in the wall. I hope for your sake that it's THIS, as you won't need to demo anything to make the repair.

Wow thanks for that explaining how that test works. Now this is a adapter cap that you have to get right both male and female for the shower arm goes in?

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Old 10-10-2011, 12:55 AM   #11
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Wow thanks for that explaining how that test works. Now this is a adapter cap that you have to get right both male and female for the shower arm goes in?

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Old 10-10-2011, 06:30 AM   #12
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"Invisible" leak in bathroom...


Quote:
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What?
Yeah you said to cap each end tub spout and riser

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