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bellsnj 11-07-2007 08:33 PM

leaks when shower is running but from where?
I bought this house new 2 1/2 years ago. our upstairs bathroom deveopled mold under the linolium. IAt the time I thought the kids were messy because water was very often outside the tub. And we found some small water stains on out living room ceiling. I striped the linolium and the underboard(?). (lots of mold and mildew) the subflooring was wet so I clawed/scraped away as much of the wet and mold as i could. I treated the floor to kill the mold. pointed a fan on the area to dry and afterwards I laid tile - looks good. So I thought everything was fine...The water stains on the living room ceiling remained damp. several weeks go by and then water starts dripping through the ceiling. sorry for the long intro but...I cut a hole into the ceiling to spot the tub drain and the area under the tub. I filled the tub 4-5" and then drained it - no leaks. I ran the shower and behold - the water driped out where two sheets of wood come together directely under the the tub.
The only thing I can think of doing next is to cut a hole in the wall behind the shower face to see the leak.

here's my questions -
Is there anything alse I can do to find the leak?

The floor that I tiled may be wet again but it isn't showing signs - could thingas be getting worse - should I tear up some of the tiles to inspect?

what is the best size hole to cut into the wall considering I have to repair it too?

NateHanson 11-07-2007 08:55 PM

The leak could be anywhere between the mixing valve, and the gooseneck where the shower riser turns to point back into the tub. You could cut a small patch out behind the valve first, or just cut out a full-length section of drywall that will give you access to the whole thing. If you do it in one piece it will be easier to screw some trim onto that piece of drywall, and make a replaceable access hatch out of it. Pretty common actually.

You scraped the mushy plywood, pointed a fan at it, and then laid tile directly onto the rotten plywood? I hate to say it, but that ain't gonna last long. When you end up needing to do it again, I'd recommend replacing that water-damaged plywood underlayment with 3/4" CDX, and then laying down cement board underlayment in modified thinset, before laying your tile.

Mike Swearingen 11-07-2007 11:35 PM

I agree with Nate that you will probably need to redo the floor.
Damaged plywood should be cut compeltely out and replaced, and tile should only be laid on cement board, not directly onto wood or the plywood will cause the tile and grout to crack as the wood shrinks and expands. I always use pressure-treated plywood in bathrooms, kitchens, utility rooms and anywhere else that has potential water leaks.
Before cutting into any wall, you can try to repair where it most likely is the "goose neck" shower arm.
Unscrew the old shower arm counter-clockwise. Clean the threads and re-wrap the male threads with 2-3 flat wraps of teflon tape wrapped clockwise as the threaded end faces you. Tighten it back into the wall fitting, and then test to see if that didn't fix the leak. If it didn't, THEN cut into the wall.
Good Luck!

bellsnj 11-08-2007 06:41 AM

The bathroom floor board was 3/4' compressed chip board - not sure what you call it. The damaged wood area was about 9'circle. I dug about 1/4" . After it was dried I did spread mud into the hole and the surrounding clawed area, leveled it, then laid backerboard/cement board before tiling - sorry, I should have mentioned it.

I have flex pipe/pvc pipe throughout the house. any chance of me breaking /cracking pipeswhen I remove or install the shower army?

Thanks for the help!

justdon 11-08-2007 02:09 PM

you needed
I bet you needed a full length wall mirror on the wall where the plumbing package for the tub/shower is anyway. They cover a multitude of sins!!!

Other thought IS,,,is there ANY chance the water can be getting out of the tub area,,,thru a crack in a surround piece??? You didnt mention what the shower surround is made of,,those 3 or 5 piece things,or ceramic tile??? OR???

For the pro's here,,,whats the 'cutest' trick you have ever seen for a cover door to hide the access panel for tub faucet access??? Any brilliant ideas like an integrated paper holder when this is in tight quarters where you are 'sitting' on the stool??? Sorta space challenged in THIS application!!

Hope this all works out well and you can track down that ellusive leak!! They can be a bummer,,,also check where line comes out of top of faucet up to shower head??? Did anyone 'hang' a picture or something right where risor pipe is???(puncture with nail or screw??)

Mike Finley 11-13-2007 09:45 AM

If you have a tile bathtub surround and running the shower only creates a leak the most likely candidate is the grout. Take a close look at the tile, press on it, check for any spongy feeling, look a the grout really close in bright light, do you see hair line cracks along the grout where it meets tile?

To isolate your leak it's a matter of systematically eliminating things. The simplest method to see if it is the surround itself or something in the plumbing is to run the shower while not allowing any water to go anywhere but the drain. You can do this by using some plastic tubing the same diameter as the shower head stem, unscrew the shower head and stick the tubing on the stem, stick it into the toilet and turn on the shower. If it doesn't leak its now one of two things - the surround or the drain itself. Next switch your tubing over to the vanity faucet and stick the tube into the tub drain and run the water. If it leaks its the drain, if not it's the surround.

Mike Finley 11-13-2007 11:42 AM

Here is an article that describes the step-by-step process of finding your leak: :thumbsup:

How to find a leak in your shower or bathtub

bellsnj 11-28-2007 10:28 AM

Guys, thanks for your replies. I think I found the source of the leak. First, I changed the drain, using plumbers putty. Filled the tub and waited, no leak. After a week, leak appeared for a short while while my son was in the shower. I finally cut a hole in the wall directly behind the water valve (the wall has that 'crack down' stuff on it so I really didn't want to cut a hole). Anyway, no leak. I had the shower running, turned to cold, turned to hot, etc. Used a mirror to get into tough spots. no leak. I went into the attic, no pipes anywhere near where it was leaking. A few more days go by and it starts again, and again it is while he is in the shower. - so I made a larger hole in the wall. Behold! I find water leaking from the side of the fiberglass tub in several spots. About where the water is hitting the tub wall. I examined the tube frame and there are no cracks, dents, holes. However, there is a handlebar in the shower/tub frame (it's a single piece tub and shower). From the hole in the wall I can see the back and part of the long side of the tub where the one end of the bar protrudes from the frame. This area is covered in a paste/glue sealing it. It doesn't appear that water is leaking from this hole - I can't get a full view of it, but where can it be from? is it possible for water to travel within the fiberglass frame?
I plan on getting some kind of caulking and place a seal around the bar and where it interfaces with the tub fram.
Any advice?

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