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Old 06-08-2013, 06:41 AM   #1
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Leaky tub mysteriously stopped leaking


I had a tub leak from trying to replace drain. Repairperson put plumber's putty around drain, ran shower for 10 minutes, and leak seemed fixed. Eight hours later, water was slowly dripping through a light fixture downstairs underneath the tub. They said that plumber's putty works immediately, so they'd have to remove drywall to see where leak was coming from. I've been using another tub in the meantime for several months. I tested the leaky tub last night before making the call to remove drywall, and not a single drip came through. Is it possible it was actually fixed in the first place? If plumber's putty works immediately, I don't understand how it continued to leak the day of the repair (when no water was run before the repair), but now it isn't leaking. Any ideas?

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Old 06-08-2013, 07:01 AM   #2
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Leaky tub mysteriously stopped leaking


I doubt if you got that lucky----open up the ceiling and look----or start using it and wait until you see a leak----but that may cause much more expensive damage that replacing a bit of drywall----

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Old 06-08-2013, 07:53 AM   #3
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Leaky tub mysteriously stopped leaking


Could be a leak that only shows up when there's a lot of weight in the tub. As in, with a person standing there taking a shower or when they're in a tub full of water.

But if you had a leak that eventually worked it's way over to a light fixture, and that's how you're detecting the leak, then there's probably water damage from the leak over to that fixture.

Is there an access panel on the wall behind the tub wet wall? If so, look in there to see what might be leaking. If not, that'd be the first place I'd chose to cut open drywall. For one, to see the extent of the water damage and leak and two, to be able to keep an eye on it in the future.

I would never just assume the drywall and framing up there isn't ruined or at least moldy. I'd want to know now before things get worse.
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Old 06-08-2013, 09:35 AM   #4
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Leaky tub mysteriously stopped leaking


Frankly, I dont understand the first statement:

"I had a tub leak from trying to replace drain."

Who was the "Repair Person," and why would you not expect them to come back and properly correct the problem, and why would you not open up the area and correct the damage that must have occurred due to the original leak?

The normal procedure would be to open up and expose the defective area and assess it for damage, then go from there. This kind of leak can drip for years and cause a lot of damage that some people try to ignore.

You will feel much better if you correct it properly.
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Old 06-08-2013, 10:08 AM   #5
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Leaky tub mysteriously stopped leaking


Some mysterious tub leaks can be attributed to the overflow drain- that gasket is off center or not compressed.
You don't mention the type of pipe that is in the house. Rusted/rotted pipe can act this way as well- depends on the volume of water draining. May be a failed compression nut- may be any number of things....
But if you had someone do the repair- they need to come back and honor their warranty.
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Old 06-08-2013, 10:17 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jagans View Post
This kind of leak can drip for years and cause a lot of damage that some people try to ignore.

You will feel much better if you correct it properly.
So will your wallet. The cost to repair stuff like this at the outset is almost always CONSIDERABLY less.

Sure, it's messy to have to open drywall, repair it and then repaint. But that's nothing compared to having to replace major parts of the framing due to water damage. That often requires pulling down a LOT more of the drywall to replace the damaged materials.

This is never what anyone wants to hear, but pretending it's gone away is not a good plan.
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Old 06-20-2013, 06:40 PM   #7
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Leaky tub mysteriously stopped leaking


Sorry for the delay-- somehow I missed all the responses! Here are answers to the questions, plus an update.

In answer to wkearney99's question: "Is there an access panel on the wall behind the tub wet wall?"

Unfortunately, no.

In answer to jagans' question about my first statement about the leak from trying to replace the drain...

I was the initial "repair person" (oops) which is why a cheap fix turned into a potentially expensive problem. Long story short, I bought the wrong size lift-and-turn replacement fixture because I didn't realize the previous homeowner had put a hub adaptor in one of the baths. Rather than go back and get the smaller sized drain for that tub, I tried removing the hub adaptor and that's where I may have messed something up. I couldn't get the hub adaptor out, so I ended up going back to get the correct size. There was barely any plumber's putty around the drain since the old drain had a rubber stopper, so at first I thought it was leaking b/c of the lack of putty. I called a repairperson, he thought the missing putty was the issue, sealed it up, and that seemed to fix it. It wasn't until 8 hours later that it had a very slow drip coming through the chandelier downstairs. Months passed [without me using that tub-- I've been using the guest tub instead all this time] and when I tested it twice recently, not a single drip came through.

UPDATE: I scheduled a plumber to cut open the ceiling and see what was going on. When I described the behavior and explained that it didn't leak during my two recent tests, he said that he hated to tear down the drywall for something that wasn't actively leaking. He told me to use that bathtub exclusively for another month, and if it started leaking again, to call him back. Now that I've seen all the responses, it sounds like I should have insisted that he cut open the ceiling to look at it.

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Old 06-20-2013, 07:31 PM   #8
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Leaky tub mysteriously stopped leaking


Thanks for getting back to us----let us know what you find---either by opening the drywall or waiting for the light fixture to fill up again.
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Old 06-21-2013, 07:01 AM   #9
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I'd consider MAKING an access panel to gain access to the wet wall behind the tub. What's on the other side of it that would prevent putting on there?
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Old 06-21-2013, 09:04 AM   #10
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Leaky tub mysteriously stopped leaking


I like the idea of adding an access panel. I'm attaching a picture of the problematic tub that shows the wall behind the faucet and the open area behind it. Not sure if it would be helpful to add a panel there? When I called the repairperson (the one who initially came out to inspect the leak and used plumber's putty), he said he'd need to go through the ceiling downstairs (where the light fixture is). When I called an actual plumber to do the repair recently, he also mentioned that if it leaks again during his recommended 30-day test, he would need to open up the ceiling downstairs to see what was going on. Both of them saw the area behind the tub, but suggested going through the ceiling downstairs, so there must be some reason that I don't understand. (Sorry for all of my ignorance on this topic. I hope this helped.)
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Old 06-21-2013, 09:47 AM   #11
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As a plumber I care about fixing the leak more than I care about a ceiling hole.
I want to see and touch what I'm working on, especially a drain that is problematic.
An access in the wall at floor level will not help much for observing the drain- only the overflow. I'd go through the ceiling
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Old 06-21-2013, 10:10 AM   #12
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Leaky tub mysteriously stopped leaking


That makes sense about accessing through the ceiling-- thanks. (Yeah, that kind of surprised me too that he didn't want to cut open the ceiling. I appreciated his honesty at the time because I fully intended to fork out a lot of money that week for the repair/drywall/painting.) The more I think about it though, I don't like the idea of testing it that long. Other than the recent testing, I've been using the spare guest tub all this time, so hopefully I haven't done too much more damage in the past week. Thanks very much to everyone for all of the suggestions and information.
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Old 06-21-2013, 12:31 PM   #13
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If/when you need to replace parts it's helpful to have access from the wall behind. Since you have had water leaks there is the possibility to have damage to the area below it. Now, is this just a trivial bit of water, or is it something more involved? Hard to say without taking a look. A look from the access panel might help decide just how much disruption of the room below is necessary. Some? None? Or quite a lot? Hard to know without taking a look from one end or the other. Me, I'd start with getting a look from above and deciding what to do after that.
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Old 06-23-2013, 08:44 PM   #14
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I find that 'leaking drains' are more often something other than the drain---Dripping shower arms are real common--
"drain leak' only when pregnant wife took shower--bad cover plate.

Heavy weight son takes bath--leaking overflow seal---

Kids and visitors --shower curtain----

Actual tub drain leaks are rather rare compared to other 'tub leaks'
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Old 06-23-2013, 08:49 PM   #15
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Leaky tub mysteriously stopped leaking


Covered under home insurance if deductible is low.

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